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Spectacular skies greeted us during our visit to old Trujillo in the heart of Extremadura. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
So many birds around that you don´t know which to choose and observe. Do you recognize this feeling? We experienced many of these exciting moments in Spain during the Field Guides tour in May.
It started straight away, on the first day, overlooking the natural lagoons of La Mancha Húmeda, where we had the chance to observe a great variety of species of ducks, grebes, terns, and passerines. The highlights here were the White-headed Duck, Eared Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, Whiskered Tern and Penduline Tit. In the National Park of Coto Donana again we found ourselves surrounded by birds: larks, bee-eaters, flamingos, Great Reed Warblers, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple herons and a surprisingly well showing Little Bittern. With a bit of searching, scanning and listening we were able to also detect Red-knobbed Coot, Marbled Teal and Isabelline (Western Olivaceous) Warbler.
Later in the week, close to Trujillo (Extremadura), we all enjoyed the excursion on the open, rolling plains, with Great and Little bustards, Eurasian Roller, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Montagu´s Harrier and many, many White Storks. For the shy Black Storks we had to wait one day more. In Monfrague National Park we discovered 3 pairs nesting on the breathtaking cliff of Peña Falcón. Together with dozens of Eurasian Griffon Vultures, and several Eurasian Black and Egyptian vultures, Blue Rock Thrush, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Bunting, they make this viewpoint into one of the best birdwatching spots of Europe.
Last but not least we were thrilled with the abundance of woodland birds around the stunning Parador hotel in the Sierra de Gredos. Amongst many others we saw Firecrest, Goldcrest, Crested and Coal tits, Western Bonelli´s Warbler, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Pied Flycatcher. Some of us even managed to get a glimpse on the elusive Citril Finch. In between all these exciting moments of “ornithological overbooking” we had plenty of other good moments with sightings of endemics like Spanish Imperial Eagle, Iberian Magpie, Iberian Shrike, Iberian Woodpecker, Iberian Chiffchaff, etc… and other good species like Bonelli´s Eagle, Black Wheatear, Red-necked Nightjar and Rufous Bush Robin. Too many to mention all of them! Even Chris achieved some lifers!
Furthermore we had some impressing cultural visits to ancient monuments like the mosque and the Roman bridge in Córdoba and the historical centre of Trujillo. The weather was very favorable to us with mild temperatures and almost no wind or rain.
Last but not least, I enjoyed the company of all the members of our expedition to Spain very much, making this tour into a wonderful and highly pleasant experience. Marcelo added a special, cheerful note with his highly appreciated presence, and so did Chris with his extensive birding and guiding skills. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to co-guide this tour. Many thanks to you all!
Best regards — Godfried Schreur
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
The gang posing beneath one of the famous molinos that dot the landscape in the La Mancha region of Spain. Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
GRAYLAG GOOSE (EUROPEAN) (Anser anser anser)
COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna)
GADWALL (Anas strepera)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Anas clypeata)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
MARBLED TEAL (Marmaronetta angustirostris)
One of the pairs of Marbled Teal that gave us a fantastic show near Donana. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (Netta rufina)
COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina)
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)
WHITE-HEADED DUCK (Oxyura leucocephala)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
COMMON QUAIL (Coturnix coturnix) [*]
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (Alectoris rufa)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
A couple of the many Greater Flamingos seen, showing off their pink to great effect in flight. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)
GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus)
LESSER FLAMINGO (Phoeniconaias minor)
BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra)
WHITE STORK (Ciconia ciconia)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)
We were surprised to find two different Lesser Flamingos hanging out with the Greaters. This is a rare visitor from the south. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
LITTLE BITTERN (Ixobrychus minutus)
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
SQUACCO HERON (Ardeola ralloides)
We had an uncommonly great view of Little Bittern at Donana. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE (Elanus caeruleus)
EGYPTIAN VULTURE (Neophron percnopterus)
Along with quite a few Eurasian Spoonbills. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
EUROPEAN HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis apivorus)
CINEREOUS VULTURE (Aegypius monachus)
EURASIAN GRIFFON (Gyps fulvus)
SHORT-TOED SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus gallicus)
BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraaetus pennatus)
SPANISH EAGLE (Aquila adalberti)
BONELLI'S EAGLE (Aquila fasciata)
Donana was also a great spot for Squacco Heron, which seemed to be doing quite well this year. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
EURASIAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus aeruginosus)
MONTAGU'S HARRIER (Circus pygargus)
EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter nisus)
NORTHERN GOSHAWK (Accipiter gentilis)
RED KITE (Milvus milvus)
BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans)
COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo)
One of the majestic Spanish Imperial Eagles seen. This species is increasing in numbers in Spain. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
GREAT BUSTARD (Otis tarda)
LITTLE BUSTARD (Tetrax tetrax)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WATER RAIL (Rallus aquaticus) [*]
WESTERN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio porphyrio)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
RED-KNOBBED COOT (Fulica cristata)
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)
A Great Reed Warbler belts out its song. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
EURASIAN THICK-KNEE (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)
EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ostralegus)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)
NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus)
KENTISH PLOVER (KENTISH) (Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus)
Tablas del Daimiel was a great place to see Bearded Reedling, with a little patience. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula)
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (EUROPEAN) (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa limosa)
BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)
We had a couple of nice studies of Eurasian Penduline-Tit as well. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
RUFF (Calidris pugnax)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)
COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago)
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
COLLARED PRATINCOLE (Glareola pratincola)
This pair of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse blasted past us for our only sighting. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
SLENDER-BILLED GULL (Chroicocephalus genei)
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
MEDITERRANEAN GULL (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
AUDOUIN'S GULL (Ichthyaetus audouinii)
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis)
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus)
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons)
The beaches of Donana were a great spot to study Auduoin's Gulls. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)
BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger)
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
PIN-TAILED SANDGROUSE (Pterocles alchata)
Perhaps the most iconic bird of the trip, the White Stock, whose nests dotted many landscapes. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
STOCK DOVE (Columba oenas)
COMMON WOOD-PIGEON (Columba palumbus)
EUROPEAN TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia turtur)
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)
GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO (Clamator glandarius)
COMMON CUCKOO (Cuculus canorus)
But Monfrague was the place to see the rarer Black Stork. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
LITTLE OWL (Athene noctua)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
RED-NECKED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus ruficollis)
EURASIAN NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus europaeus) [*]
ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba)
COMMON SWIFT (Apus apus)
PALLID SWIFT (Apus pallidus)
WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT (Apus caffer)
We were all thrilled with each sighting of Hoopoe. What a bird! Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops)
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis)
EUROPEAN BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster)
EUROPEAN ROLLER (Coracias garrulus)
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos minor buturlini)
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos major)
EURASIAN GREEN WOODPECKER (IBERIAN) (Picus viridis sharpei)
We had some terrific looks at Roller too, doing well locally thanks to nest box programs. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
LESSER KESTREL (Falco naumanni)
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus) [I]
RED-BACKED SHRIKE (Lanius collurio)
SOUTHERN GRAY SHRIKE (Lanius meridionalis)
WOODCHAT SHRIKE (Lanius senator)
We tracked down the regional endemic Iberian Chiffchaff. Not much to look at, but with a distinctive song. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus oriolus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
EURASIAN JAY (Garrulus glandarius)
IBERIAN MAGPIE (Cyanopica cooki)
EURASIAN MAGPIE (Pica pica)
RED-BILLED CHOUGH (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
EURASIAN JACKDAW (Corvus monedula)
CARRION CROW (Corvus corone)
This Song Thrush seen in the Jerte Valley was at the extreme southern end of its breeding range. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
Panuridae (Bearded Reedling)
BEARDED REEDLING (Panurus biarmicus)
GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK (Calandrella brachydactyla)
CALANDRA LARK (Melanocorypha calandra)
LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK (Alaudala rufescens)
WOOD LARK (Lullula arborea)
EURASIAN SKYLARK (Alauda arvensis)
The spectacular setting of Penafalcon and Salto de Gitano in Monfrague National Park. A birdwatcher's paradise. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
THEKLA LARK (Galerida theklae)
CRESTED LARK (Galerida cristata)
EURASIAN CRAG-MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Cecropis daurica)
COMMON HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon urbicum)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
COAL TIT (Periparus ater)
Pink skies at the Parador de Gredos. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
CRESTED TIT (Lophophanes cristatus)
EURASIAN BLUE TIT (Cyanistes caeruleus)
GREAT TIT (Parus major)
EURASIAN PENDULINE-TIT (Remiz pendulinus)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
LONG-TAILED TIT (Aegithalos caudatus)
EURASIAN NUTHATCH (Sitta europaea)
SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER (Certhia brachydactyla)
A young Spanish Ibex staring down at us high in the Gredos. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
EURASIAN WREN (Troglodytes troglodytes)
GOLDCREST (Regulus regulus)
FIRECREST (Regulus ignicapilla)
Cettiidae (Bush-Warblers and Allies)
CETTI'S WARBLER (Cettia cetti)
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus collybita)
IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus ibericus)
WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER (Phylloscopus bonelli)
We had some great lizards including this Schreiber's Green Lizard in the Gredos. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Acrocephalidae (Reed-Warblers and Allies)
WESTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER (Iduna opaca)
MELODIOUS WARBLER (Hippolais polyglotta)
EURASIAN REED-WARBLER (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
GREAT REED-WARBLER (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
SAVI'S WARBLER (Locustella luscinioides) [*]
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
ZITTING CISTICOLA (Cisticola juncidis)
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers)
EURASIAN BLACKCAP (Sylvia atricapilla)
And this Cyren's Rock Lizard, which is primarily found only in the Gredos and adjacent ranges. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
GARDEN WARBLER (Sylvia borin)
WESTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER (Sylvia hortensis)
SUBALPINE WARBLER (INORNATA) (Sylvia cantillans inornata)
SARDINIAN WARBLER (Sylvia melanocephala)
GREATER WHITETHROAT (Sylvia communis)
DARTFORD WARBLER (Sylvia undata)
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa striata)
This crazy bug is known as Nemoptera bipennis is sometimes called the Thread-winged Lacewing or Spoonwing. We saw quite a few of these in the Andujar region. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
RUFOUS-TAILED SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas galactotes)
EUROPEAN ROBIN (Erithacus rubecula)
COMMON NIGHTINGALE (Luscinia megarhynchos)
EUROPEAN PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hypoleuca)
BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros)
RUFOUS-TAILED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola saxatilis)
BLUE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola solitarius)
The Two-tailed Pasha, one of Europe's fanciest butterflies in Monfrague. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
EUROPEAN STONECHAT (Saxicola rubicola rubicola)
BLACK WHEATEAR (Oenanthe leucura)
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe)
BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR (Oenanthe hispanica)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
EURASIAN BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula)
SONG THRUSH (Turdus philomelos)
MISTLE THRUSH (Turdus viscivorus)
These strange creatures are called Red-striped Oil Beetles. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
SPOTLESS STARLING (Sturnus unicolor)
DUNNOCK (Prunella modularis)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (ASHY-HEADED) (Motacilla flava iberiae)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)
WHITE WAGTAIL (Motacilla alba)
TREE PIPIT (Anthus trivialis)
WATER PIPIT (Anthus spinoletta)
The alpine country high in the Gredos Mountains. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
CIRL BUNTING (Emberiza cirlus)
ROCK BUNTING (Emberiza cia)
ORTOLAN BUNTING (Emberiza hortulana)
CORN BUNTING (Emberiza calandra)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
COMMON CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs)
EUROPEAN GREENFINCH (Chloris chloris)
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)
EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis)
EURASIAN LINNET (Carduelis cannabina)
CITRIL FINCH (Serinus citrinella)
EUROPEAN SERIN (Serinus serinus)
HAWFINCH (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
SPANISH SPARROW (Passer hispaniolensis)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus)
ROCK PETRONIA (Petronia petronia)
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
BLACK-HEADED WEAVER (Ploceus melanocephalus) [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild) [I]
OLD WORLD RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
CAPE HARE (Lepus capensis)
EUROPEAN RED SQUIRREL (Sciurus vulgaris)
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
FALLOW DEER (Dama dama)
RED DEER (Cervus elaphus)
SPANISH IBEX (Capra pyrenaica)
Totals for the tour: 206 bird taxa and 7 mammal taxa