Last April I went to Extremadura, where I visited the Monfragüe National Park and its surroundings; the Caceres plains, Los Barruecos, La Serena and I also did a hide session at the ones from Photo Raptors, located in Sierra de San Pedro, close to the Portugal border.
The Monfragüe National Park gave us the opportunity of seing a big number of nesting species. It is an amazing place to do birdwatching, even from the car parks located along the road that crosses the park. We saw: white stork (ciconia ciconia), black stork (ciconia nigra), griffon vulture (gyps fulvus), black vulture (aegypius monachus), Egyptian vulture (neophron pernopterus), Eurasian eagle owl (bubo bubo), booted eagle (hieraaetus pennatus) and Spanich imperial eagle (aquila aldalberti), among others.
At the Caceres plains we could see little bustard (tetrax tetrax) and great bustard (otis tarda). We also saw a few European rollers (coracias garrulus).
The visit to Los Barruecos was a bit stressfull: there were a big number of people (spanish) who not respect nature. There were no guards and most of the people were screaming, running or going too close to the nests, despite of the posted signs. It was so clear that they were disturbing the white storks, because some of them start flying as soon as people get too close, leaving the nest alone, which could compromise the eggs/chicks. The place is so nice, but if the human preassure is always like this…
The morning session at the hide from Photo Raptors was amazing. It was my first time in a hide like this; I did a few in the past in a portable hide, at a feeder, but nothing compared with this one. This hide offers the possibility of being turned to choose the background and the light direction, and as it has 2 levels, it is also possible to choose if you want to stay up or down. The upper part is better for flights and the lower to take photos of the birds on the ground… we choose down. It seemed that nothing was coming at the beginning… but after half an hour a common raven (corvus corax) came and, just after it, a Spanish imperial eagle (aquila aldarberti) came. After then, it became busier and some black vultures (aegypius monachus), griffon vultures (gyps fulvus) and a Egyptian vulture (neophron pernopterus) came.
The number of vultures, not only griffon vulture but also black vulture, increased and it draw my attention the way they measured their strength among them, to decide which one started eating the carrion. Sometimes it was enough to approach one each other: it was so clear which was the most experimented one so the other one moved away like accepting its inferiority. At other occasions the strenght difference was not so evident so it was necessary to open the wings and sometimes to show one of the legs, like showing their “weapons”. Finally, on those cases when the strengths were so similar they had to do a small attack, in the air, very close to the ground, usually with the two legs on the front… it never went any further.
A small group of azure-winged magpies (cyanopica cyanus) also did a short visit. Some black kites (milvus migrans), came sometimes, in pairs, and the Spanish imperial eagle come back several times. A small group of sparrows came to collect some feathers for their nests.
Having all these species so close and seeing how they interacted was a quite interesting experience I recommend to everybody.