Madrid and Extremadura 2015

I'd promised Michelle and not too 'birdy' combination of culture and a walking holiday. This was it.

6 - 8th April

We arrived to warm sunshine. This was very welcome after the grim spring in the UK but became less so on the long walk, from the bus stop to our hotel. Rather than rush around 'ticking off' all the sites we deliberately took it easy combining a bit of wandering around the city and the Park Reina with the truly superb Museo Sofa Reina. We spent about five hours at the latter and still only looked at three out of the four floors of permanent exhibitions. 

I spent about half an hour just looking at Picasso's masterpiece: Guernica. 

We also spent a fair amount of time 'chilling' with beer and wine.

Wildlife watching was limited. Both monk parakeets

and red-eared terrapins are introduced. 

A speckled wood of the nominate sub-species look very different to the ones I am used to in the UK.

Apart from that, serins provided the only wildlife interest.

7-11th April Extremadura

It was then back to the airport, to pick up the hire car, and off to the totally gorgeous town of Trujillo.

Then, after lunch in the plaza, it was time to start exploring. A gorgeous first afternoon and last day but we did have rain and cold weather for a lot of the rest of the time which was rather frustrating.

Part of the main reasons I'd wanted to return to Extremadura was our lack of bustards on our last visit. Mainly due to exploding a tyre on a bank holiday. Sadly we still failed with little bustard -we didn't spend much time on the plains as it didn't go well with the walking bit of the holiday - but, during my time limited driving around time, we did see several great bustards.

Sadly, I feel I peaked with the bird photos with these and it was downhill from there!

At least five Montagu's harriers were present in the one of the areas we saw great bustards.

Other birds of the plains included Calandra larks(typical uncooperative), hundreds of corn buntings, the occasional roller, southern grey shrike and black kites

Much more of our time was spent in the hills walking through dehesa, olive groves, forest and more open rocky areas.

Serins, corn buntings and Sardinian warblers were abundant.  Also very common were woodchat shrikes;

not quite as common, and very un-cooperative, were southern grey shrikes.

Azure-winged magpies were frequently seen but this species seems to have a great fear of cameras! Other birds included:
cirl bunting - occasionally seen

Bee-eaters were more often heard than seen, but were reasonably common.

A colony of Spanish sparrows were seen beside the River Tozo.

Lesser kestrel

white stork
and spotless starling were most common around the towns.

Large psammodromos was the most common, and showy, reptile.

Iberian wall lizard and Spanish terrapin were considerably less co-operative.

Spanish festoon was the most exciting butterfly as it was a new species for me

but scarce swallowtails are always really smart.
Others species included:
western marbled white
western dappled white
large tortoiseshell

Provence orange-tip
and black-eye blue.

The one species of dragonfly seen was yellow clubtail.

This migratory locust was found in the middle of Trujillo.
A few red-striped oil beetles were seen.

as well as Scarabeus laticollis

Oxythyrea funesta
This may be Mylabris hieracii. If anyone can confirm or tell me it's not I'd love to hear from you. 

firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus

I'm not really a botanist but I did try to identify a few plants. I am keen on orchids. These proved rather hard to find than I'd hoped so I was relieved to finally find saw-toothed
and tongue orchids. 

Other species identified included:
Gladiolus illyricus
gum cistus
Hispidella hispanica
western peony
and Spanish iris.