4th June. A Plan

Today would be better as we actually had a plan. Firstly get up to the Santa Marta Plains for dawn. Unfortunately I mis-calculated the dawn and our 5am alarm was a bit on the early side. This did however pay off in that we rather frustratingly had an Eagle Owl calling behind the hotel. Arriving at the plains in total darkness at 6am meant a wait of almost an hour before it got properly light.

Apart from 2 heard only Little Bustards and 11 Great Bustards the rest was pretty run of the mill.

By 8.30 I had given up on any Sandgrouse just as 5 flew across the road 3 of them landing in a weedy field. These proved to be the rarer Pin-tails. We drove up the first Santa Marta track to get better views but unfortunately on leaving the car flushed a party of 6 Black-bellied closely followed by the 3 Pin-tails. A distant Cuckoo flushed off the fence turned out to be a Great Spotted and was joined, surprisingly, by another 2. Happy that we had cleared up around the plains we headed into Trujillo for breakfast items before attempting the Spanish Imperials once more. This time, due to the plan, we were more successful and had scope views of the two adults close to the nest. Our next port of call was to the south of Trujillo to large Sierra de Bravas reservoir where we had distant hazy views of the Gull-billed Tern colony. Also here were 3 Red-crested Pochards and 2 Gadwall. A pair of Rollers showed well around an old farm building though there seemed to be several pairs in this area. A brief visit to the Paddy Fields added nothing new to the trip list and by now my head was throbbing due to lack of sleep and the heat.

Following a 2 hour siesta during which we discovered that those sly Spaniards don’t actually go to bed for a nap they just pop into the nearest back street bar, get pissed and make so much noise that those tourists, observing their tradition, get bugger all sleep. Following our broken sleep we called at the local supermarket and purchased supplies for the rest of the day, packing the picnic bag with ½ kilo of prawns, ham, bread, water, sangria, olives etc etc for just 15 euros (a meal which later turned out to be the best of the trip).

First stop of the afternoon was the Embasse El Campo. A few new trip species were added including Savi’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Night Heron, Little Egret and Purple Heron.

An alternative route to Monfrague is to take the new dual carriageway to Plasencia from the N5. This route was very quick and infact only took 30 minutes to get to the Eagle Owl spot - about 2 hours too early! An extended meal stop near the Hydroelectric Dam provided some nice views of Black Kites, Black Vulture and many Griffons.

Following our excellent supper we headed back to the Eagle Owl spot ,which I've temporarily forgotten how to spell (see below). After a couple of hours of nothing besides a couple of Subalpine Warblers, nightingale and the first perched Black Vulture of the trip which made me realise why they're now called Monk Vulture. We were then joined by a group of noisy Spaniards, who spent the next hour or so shouting laughing and barking - well the dog did! This continued until 10pm when they finally decided to go. It was at this point that they stopped in the road and started jabbering excitingly at a lump on a rock behind us. My fluent Spanish skills acquired over the few days enquired "Bubo?" to which I received a "ce" - language barrier my arse. This lump was indeed a juv Eagle Owl which was later joined by an adult before both disappeared. It was now getting very dark so we headed back to Trujillo having a brief unsuccessful listen for Red-necked Nightjar and almost wiping out a Scops Owl whilst negotiating the treacherous Monfrague highway.

1 comment:

John Hague said...

We loved Exremadura, no we're armed with a better camera and good optics I doubt it'll be too long before we're back.