Having been struck down by blog writers block for the last 12 months, where you have all these great blogging ideas but as soon as you sit at a computer they all vanish or worse still you write complete shit and I am fully aware that has certainly been the case at times - okay most of the time.
Anyway before I go all Jack Nicholson in the Shining here's my latest offering.
I love the Spanish but their habit of congregating (quite rightly so it's their country after all) in large groups coincidentally at the best birding spots means you're best avoiding the popular areas at weekends.
With this in mind we made a the decision to tour the plains between Trujillo and Caceres. We set off shortly after breakfast, the temperature already coasting into the high twenties and as a consequence most of today's birding would be done from the car.
Following the Gosney Guide tip we drove along the road from Santa Marta de Magasca towards Caceres (site 16 page 5) where no less than eight Rollers were found along the telegraph poles.
Little Bustards in June are particularly difficult, not because of the lack of birds but because of the height of the vegetation, so a female at the side of the track to La Encinilla Farmhouse was an unexpected bonus.
The site by the bridge over the Rio Almonte on the EX-390 again failed to produce any Black Wheatears but we did have great views of Alpine Swift and a close Black Kite. Despite the abundance of the latter species I never seem to get decent photos, so I was reasonably pleased with this one.
Today was Jo's birthday and her choice of birthday treat wasn't a nice meal in the square but to see the Eagle Owls in Monfrague. Given that we'd heard that many people had missed the owls the meal option would have perhaps been easier to fulfill. However later afternoon we headed out to Monfrague calling at a couple of sites en-route to Portilla del Tietar. Our visit to the Castillo was brief due to an incredible plague of flying earwigs that even I couldn't stand.
Picnicking at La Tajadilla we were joined by a mangy looking fox that seemed happy to take the prawn heads that we threw for him depriving the Azure-winged Magpies of their supper. The fox is mentioned on page 8 of the Gosney Guide as being present in January 2013 - so clearly makes a good living from picnickers!
We arrived at the Portilla del Tietar around 8pm and were immediately greeted by one of the adult Spanish Imperial Eagles overhead and one of the young Eagle Owls. Over the next two hours the two young owls and a single adult performed in full view completely fulfilling Jo's birthday wish.
I also compiled a bit of shaky video with excited commentary from a German tourist.