On January Days Good To Remember Spring Days Wild Spain Custom Tour 2022

Bee eater Spain 1

Rainbow birds - European Bee-eaters always such a thrill to see these gorgeous birds!

We run a lot of custom tours, tailor made to be ideal for you and your friends. Here is the story of one such custom tour in Spain....

Madrid To Saucedilla Day One Wild Spain 23 April 2022

We had arrived in Madrid on the night of the 22nd of April in torrential rain and cold temperatures, far from ideal, but luckily the morning dawned with just drizzle but still cold. We returned to the airport and met our lovely guests – Debbie, Steve and Sue and Pat – for their custom Wild Spain tour. We were quickly out of Madrid, we know the way so well now, and heading west for Extremadura.

Luckily the further west we headed the better the weather and the rain was soon forgotten as the sun broke through; this was more like Spain in April. As we made good time, and we began to see White Storks nesting alongside the road and huge Griffon Vultures soaring above.

White Stork March 2015 1

White Storks are a daily sight in this beautiful part of Spain.

We reached Saucedilla late morning where it was sunny but so cold! We did some birding at the wetland enjoying our first Purple Herons and Gull-billed Terns and close views of Crested Larks and more nesting White Storks before lunch in the village.

After lunch we explored an area nearby and were very lucky to see a Black-winged Kite a tough bird to find sometimes so a real thrill to see. The views were distant but luckily it is a very distinctive bird, but we hoped to see more during the tour. A pair of Ferruginous Ducks were another “bonus” bird here and we had superb views of Black-winged Stilts towering over a Common Sandpiper and White Wagtails. Marsh Harriers quartered the ground as both Griffon and Cinererous Vultures soared overhead, the distinctive song of Corn Buntings was all around us as it would be every day of the tour.

Spotless Starling port 1

This wonderful Spotless Starling was singing right by the front door of our hotel.

A short drive took us to the beautiful historic town of Trujilio, our base for the next week, and we settled into our gorgeous hotel, what a fantastic place. After we had unpacked and taken in the splendour of the hotel we walked to the stunning main square where we enjoyed our dinner while watching Lesser Kestrels, Pallid Swifts, Spotless Starlings and more White Storks.

The Plains Of Spain With No Rain 24 April 2022 Wild Spain Custom Tour

After a delicious and plentiful breakfast, we headed out into the morning sunshine, what a beautiful cobalt blue sky. We were greeted by a stunning male Black Redstart in the hotel carpark as “oily” Spotless Starlings sang above and a male Serin performed his “butterfly” display flight.

A short drive, passing Black Kites and Woodchat Shrikes, took us to a beautiful area of steppe, the plains of Spain, carpeted in glorious wildflowers. We were soon enjoying frame filling views of one of our most sought-after species of the trip – Great Bustards. And oh they really are great! Two of the huge males were in full “foam bath” display where these amazing birds seem to turn themselves inside out and inflate their chests and strut about looking most bizarre indeed. Meanwhile the females seemed to take no notice at all. To be out on these plains in beautiful weather, with the wildflowers and the bustards was just magical. But of course, there was lots more, Calanadra Larks filled the air with their wonderful songs as Marsh Harriers quartered the flower filled steppe, Lesser Kestrels whizzed about while Griffon and Cinereous Vultures just soared slowly over – where to look! Unusual calls told us where to look next as Black-bellied Sandgrouse swept over the steppe such wonderful birds and we were lucky on this occasion seeing several small flocks, they can be tough to find. Our first Montagu’s Harrier of the trip floated over a yellow carpet of flowers in the sunshine just wow! Back to the Great Bustards and we soaked up more views of these incredible birds – this is why we love our tours in Spain so much.

At a nearby reservoir, we enjoyed close up views of Thekla’s Lark singing in the sunshine along with Little Ringed Plovers and our first gulls of the trip – Lesser black backs. Crag Martins put on an amazing show flying so close but never easy to get a good photo of these fast-moving birds. Then huge excitement as two Great Spotted Cuckoos flew in! Such fantastic birds and always a thrill to see these long-tailed, long-winged birds.

We then headed back across the steppe stopping to see our first European Rollers and photograph a pair of Hoopoes posing on the fence – such amazing birds and always a joy to see.

Lunch was at a great bar that served up huge portions of freshly cooked tapas and we feasted outside watching European Bee-eaters, Spanish Sparrows, Lesser Kestrel, and a real surprise bird a Black Stork soaring against the blue sky – wow!

Then on to another reservoir which has forest around it providing super habitat for many birds. A Common Nightingale sat out in full view singing and we enjoyed lovely views, we heard so many during this tour and did see a good number. European Bee-eaters were feeding near the track and camera skills were put to the test again with this fast flying species – Debbie did amazingly well taking superb photos of these “rainbow” birds. The water itself was rather quite though an Osprey on a rock was a nice surprise and a breeding plumaged, Black-necked Grebe looking stunning in the sunshine.

We headed back to Trujillo and enjoyed another wonderful dinner.

A Day In The Park Monfrague National Park Wild Spain Custom Tour 25 April

Another day another blue sky and glorious sunshine and we headed north to spend the whole day in the Monfrague National Park famous for its birds of prey and so much more. We zipped along to reach the park early and we were rewarded with stunning views of the Griffon Vulture colony as these giants of the bird world rose off the cliff in the morning sun. Cameras were very busy indeed as some these massive vultures passed pretty close to us and some at and even below eye-level allow the best possible views. Both Cinereous and Egyptian Vultures also put in an appearance along with two Peregrine Falcons that looked tiny amongst the vultures. But there was more – Black Storks were nesting on the same cliff face, and we watched gorgeous Blue Rock Thrushes on the boulders just below us along with Rock Buntings, Black Redstarts, Serins, Red-rumped Swallows and Crag Martins – what a wonderful start to the day!

Next stop produced huge and fantastic Alpine Swifts zooming low overhead along with masses of nesting House Martins and the beautiful sound of singing Golden Orioles.

Coffee and cake went down very well indeed, and we were able to watch nesting Barn Swallows at the café as more vultures drifted over head!

Next stop a viewpoint overlooking cliffs where we had previously seen Bonelli’s Eagles and amazingly as we step out into the sunshine, we saw two of these rare and hard to find eagles above us! What timing! We also enjoyed super views of a singing male Western Subalpine Warbler and a perched Black Kite in a cork oak.

Another cliff and more raptors and we timed it, again, perfectly for a wonderful view of a magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle against the blue sky yet another wow moment! The golden head and white “shoulders” gleaming in the sunshine what an awesome bird!

Short toed Eagle Spain

A Short-toed Eagle soars against a beautiful Spanish sky.

A nearby café again provided a superb tapas lunch as we sat outside and watched more birds. A male Woodchat Shrike posed for us as Iberian Magpies hopped about under the cork oak trees. White and Black Storks soared overhead along with Short-toed Snake Eagle and Booted Eagle. Another stroke of luck here when a Rock Sparrow, another tricky species to find, was spotted under the oaks what a wonderful place for lunch.

After our lovely and long late lunch, we headed back through the park stopping to admire the vultures again and the stunning scenery before heading back to base.

Dawn On The Plains Day Four Wild Spain Custom Tour 26 April 2022

We were out into the dark of pre-dawn, following a first breakfast in our hotel rooms thanks to the raid on the supermarket yesterday, it was cold but calm. We headed west from Trujillo and drove through a belt of cork oaks stopping in the dark to listen. We did not have to wait long until we heard the distinctive “sonar-like” call of a Scops Owl and it was soon answered by two more.

On the edge of the “dehesa” oak woodland we stopped again, still dark though light showing to the east and listened again. Crested Larks were already high above in the inky sky pouring out their songs, a Common Cuckoo called and was joined by a hoo-poing Hoopoe. Then a strange call reached our ears a Stone Curlew was “wailing” as if flew above us and Steve did well to spot it.

The rolling plains were alive with larks including chunky Calandra Larks.

As the light spilled across the vast sky from the east, we moved a little further and walked out along a dirt track across the rolling grass plain covered in wildflowers. Here the bird song we much louder with big brutish larks, Calandras, joining the dawn chorus with their wonderful songs and mimicry of other birds. Corn Buntings were every few dozen yards singing their rasping songs – the soundtrack of Extremadura. Further away strode magnificent male Great Bustards with Montagu’s Harrier floating past them as Black and Red Kites drifted across the plains. We could see the castle of Trujillo in the background beneath the now blue sky what a wonderful place to be.

We heard the distinctive calls of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and scanned the vast sky for the gorgeous birds and after several flight viewsthrew we spotted some on the ground. The top of the range telescopes really came into their own here transforming these lumps in the grass into beautiful birds, just wow! A few minutes later it was the same story when we heard a very welcome sound – the raspberry blowing of a male Little Bustard! Another of our sought-after species this morning and the scopes allowed us to see his “Newcastle United scarf” as he threw his head back calling his most bizarre call.

We then headed back to the hotel for a huge second breakfast all those amazing birds give you an appetite for sure.

Second breakfast done we headed back to the plains to a different area and soon found our main target bird – European Roller – and we spent ages watching and photographing them such wonderful birds. Of course, there was so much more to see here with a flock of Great Bustards, two fantastic Spanish Imperial Eagles soared close by and we could hear them calling to each other, lots of Lesser Kestrels, super views of Short-toed Larks and more! What a fantastic place.

Next, we headed back to Trujillo to have some time exploring this beautiful historic town and of course to watch the nesting White Storks, Lesser Kestrels and Pallid Swifts the beauty of a custom tour – it is tailor made to how our guests want it.

Warblers Wetlands And Vultures Wild Spain Day 5 27 April 2022

After another wonderful breakfast at our stunning hotel, we headed north of Trujillo to an area of heathland where we had enjoyed great birds on previous visits. It was sunny and calm so good conditions for the hoped-for warblers. After a little effort we all had good views of Dartford Warblers playing their usual game of “now you see me now” you don’t. More persistence was required for the Spectacled Warbler, but we kept looking and after some frustrating glimpses a wonderful male showed off for us in the sunshine – rather like a miniature Common Whitethroat with a lovely pink wash to the underparts and we all agreed well worth working for. Wood Larks sang above us and perched on wires, Iberian Grey Shrike showed off, a European Turtle Dove flew past our first of the trip and always exciting to see. We also watched Hoopoes, Sardinian Warblers, Calandra Larks, Short-toed Eagles and more in the morning sunshine.

A short drive took us to a wetland where we quickly boosted our already very impressive trip list. A Savi’s Warbler sang from the reedbed and was quickly in the scope for super views of this most bizarre sounding warbler. Glossy Ibis lived up to their name looking very glossy indeed in the sunshine. Eurasian Reed Warbler was the next warbler to be added to our list as Gull-billed Terns patrolled over the open water what a fantastic place. Another part of the wetland allowed us super views of Red-crested Pochard, Purple Herons galore, Cetti’s Warbler and Great Reed Warblers before a lovely lunch at a nearby bar enjoyed outside in the warm sunshine.

We took a route across an area of steppe back to Trujillo in the now hot sunshine under blue sky. Sadly, this area is nowhere near as bird rich as it was in the “good old days” but we still found plenty to enjoy. Small pools held impossibly long-legged Black-winged Stilts and Little Grebes as Woodchat Shrikes watched from fence wires. We saw vultures on the move and stopped to see what they were up to. These huge Griffon Vultures were dropping down into a grass field and we suspect they were looking for after-birth from sheep that were lambing there? Certainly, no dead animal on the ground and it was comical to watch these huge birds bouncing about on the grass. Many more Griffons soared right overhead a fantastic sight against that oh so blue sky. Further along the road we stopped to watch rainbow birds – gorgeous European Bee-eaters – that played “keep just to far away from the camera” with us! But what a thrill to watch these birds and figured we would many more opportunities to photograph these wonderful birds.

Back in town we enjoyed a lovely dinner in the main square soaking up the sites of this historic and beautiful location.

Even More Vultures And Oh So Much More Wild Spain 28 April 2022

An early start from Trujillo and we drove north to meet friends of ours that operate a bird hide near the Monfrague National Park – a very special place indeed. Once inside the hide we barely had time to sit down before the “show” began in stark contrast to our visit a few weeks ago when we waited a long time for birds to appear.

The area right in front of the hide was a giant bird table with meat scattered on the bare earth and it attracted a lot of birds! Massive Griffon Vultures fell from the sky onto the meat and were quickly joined by even bigger Cinereous Vultures and all this just a few yards in front of us totally amazing! It was not for the faint-hearted as the vultures don’t do table manners it resembled a disorderly rugby scrum as the birds ripped into their breakfast. Both Red and Black Kites tried to grab scraps and surprisingly a White Stork waded right in there to grab food. The vultures fought and pushed and shoved to get the best bits of meat it was a fantastic and equally gruesome sight and cameras were working hard to capture the spectacle. It was hard to know just where to focus the camera as so much was happening all at once – two Cinereous Vultures bounced into the flowers with a chunk of meat making a great photo, a Griffon Vulture was on a dead tree feasting on a rabbit carcass, a Raven swooped in and grabbed an egg it found in the grass, Black Kites were in the oak trees lit up by the morning sun – what a place!

As the food was eaten the scene became calmer with smaller numbers of birds present and at this point in came an Egyptian Vulture! This wonderful adult bird with a bright yellow face picked up scraps left by the bigger vultures and again cameras were busy capturing this wonderful bird. But there was, even more now the vultures had mostly gone an unexpected thing happened birds came to collect feathers discarded in the scrum of feeding birds! Both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Spanish Sparrows all collected these nest materials. Then even better Rock Sparrows arrived to join in the collection of feathers, and we enjoyed wonderful views of these tricky to find birds. We all agreed it had been an amazing experience and so many photos had been taken!

Even as we walked back to the minibus from the hide, we another great bird – a singing Western Orphean Warbler! This big warbler sang from some cork oaks though tricky to get good views of. Just down the road was a lovely bar where drinks and lunch went down very well indeed after a fantastic morning in the hide.

After a lovely lunch we headed into the nearby Monfrague National Park and enjoyed even more vultures! Amazingly even more photos were taken of Griffon Vultures, just how many do we need? But of course, there was much more and we watched Blue Rock Thrushes, Rock Buntings, Black Redstarts, Crag Martins, Western Subalpine Warblers, Black Storks and more!

What a fantastic day and all not far from our perfect base in Trujillo.

A Bird Filled Day With Our Lovely Friend Martin Wild Spain 29 April 2022

This morning we headed south from Trujillo and met up with our friend, and local expert bird guide, Martin Kelsey to enjoy a day exploring some his favourite areas of Extremadura.

Our first stop was only a few minutes from where we met, a narrow track complete with tongue orchids a new species for us led to cliff face. What a surprise Martin had for us, on the cliff where two well grown Eagle Owl chicks! Wow! What a perfect start to the day. We kept a good distance from the ledge where the birds were sunning themselves in the warmth of the early sun. Through the telescopes we had frame filling views of these big owl chicks and their beautiful yellow eyes that blinked slowly in the sunshine. As we watched we realised that there was something on the edge of the nest, a dead hedgehog! We hadn’t considered that owls would eat hedgehogs, but Martin told us that it does occur with Eagle Owls. We crept away leaving these wonderful birds to doze in the sun.

A short trip south and we were out on the steppe again watching one of the birds of this very special region of Spain – Great Bustards. A gang of huge males strutted through the carpets of wildflowers in the sunshine just how we imagined them before the trip. Calandra Larks sang above us, raptors soared above us, Corn Buntings sang from fence posts all around us and “zit, zit” calls of Zitting Cisticolas was almost constant. It was just perfect and uplifting a joy to be out in this gorgeous place with like-minded people celebrating nature.

Further across the rolling steppe Martin showed us a displaying male Little Bustard and much closer than our previous encounter and again the telescopes allowed super views. The “Newcastle United fan” of the bird world complete with his black and white “scarf” blew raspberry after raspberry as he threw his back proclaiming this steppe was occupied.

European Bee-eaters whizzed about like tiny rainbow lighting up the grasslands as Hoopoes flit along in front of us and Griffon Vultures soared effortlessly above.

On the very first day of our “Wild Spain” adventure we seen a Black-winged Kite another of “the” birds to see here but the views were distant, we had asked Martin could he help to upgrade our kite experience. Of course, Martin knew just the place and we made that our next stop. An area of open cork oak woodland with flower meadows but sadly no Black-winged Kites. We looked further along the track, enjoying superb views of European Bee-eaters but no kites. Back to the first stop and a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew past but no kites. It was looking like a bust and we were about to leave when Martin called “Got one!” whew! There half hidden in the top of one of the oaks was a beautiful Black-winged Kite. Panic as we got the bird in the scopes and everyone got a good look. Then another of these diminutive raptors flew in, and then another! We now had three Black-winged Kites showing off in the sunshine just fantastic! Thank you again Martin.

Next Martin guided around the maze of dirt tracks across an area of rice fields. These fields, when wet, attract migrant waders, aka shorebirds and today we found a few. Little Ringed and Common Ringed Plovers, a flighty Wood Sandpiper, a Greenshank, and a Whimbrel. As we watched the waders, they took flight in panic, and we realised that we were not the only ones to have spotted these migrant birds. A Peregrine Falcon was stooping at the wet field and “locked-on” to the Whimbrel! Both birds tore across the blue sky, and we held our breath as the falcon gained on the wader. Both birds were lost to view before we could see the conclusion of the chase but a few minutes later the Whimbrel returned to the field apparently unharmed.

Lunch was next on the agenda, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal at a bar not far from the rice fields where we were met by lovely friendly locals, another joy of this special part of “Wild Spain”.

After a long and delicious lunch, taken during the hottest part of the day we headed north to a reservoir where the trees provided welcome shade. So many birds here and so many wildflowers too stunning in the glorious sunshine. We enjoyed prolonged great views of two Great Reed Warblers having a “sing-off” in the reeds, Common Kingfisher added a splash of colour, Purple Herons, so many Cattle Egrets, singing Nightingales, three Little Stints, more Bee-eaters more raptors just fantastic birding.

All to soon it was time to head back towards Trujillo and drop Martin off back at his place on route. But the day was not over, Trujillo was hosting the National Cheese Festival! The whole of the huge main square was given over to stalls with cheeses from every part of Spain – heaven! We wandered around and took in the sights, smells and tastes before enjoying a wonderful meal at a stunning restaurant that Steve had found on an earlier wander around the town. The food was amazing and what a lovely way to round off such a fantastic day. Huge thanks to Martin for his great company and sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge of Extremadura and its wonderful wildlife.

Another wonderful day on our custom-made Wild Spain tour! We would love to arrange a custom Birdwatching Trips tour for you or you and a small group, maximum of six guests, anywhere you would love to enjoy great birds. Just drop us a line here and we can do the rest…


We have run our special custom tours to many destinations here in the UK and overseas including Spain, Finland, Borneo, Ecuador, South Africa so just ask us, and we can help put together a perfect tour for you.

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