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Wildlife in and around the city of Bristol

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Bristol and Avon Bird

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Wildlife in the Forest of Dean

Bob Bushell’s Wildlife
Photography

Saturday 22nd April 2017

We met up with Shetland Wildlife in London Gatwick Airport. One of our guides for the week was Judd Hunt. After a very smooth flight, we landed in Madrid, which was an hour behind the UK's time. We met up with Martin Kesley, who was our co guide for the week in Extremadura. After the minibuses were shorted out, we were on our way into the very heart of Extremadura. We stopped halfway along the route at a place called Restaurante 134 near Gamonal. This was where I ecountered my first Crested Lark sighting on this holiday. It was foraging around the car park. A very scarce migrant to the area was a Male Whinchat perched on a bush. We also saw a Moorish Gecko on the outside wall of the cafe. A Booted Eagle soared overhead. It was also good for nesting House Sparrows & Barn Swallows. Later that day, we arrived at Martin's home village of Pago de San Clemente which is 10 kilometres from the ancient town of Trujillo. There were plenty of House Sparrows nesting under the eaves of the Guesthouse. I saw a Male Serin in the nearby field from my bedroom where we were staying. A White Stork flew overhead. Extremadura was also the best place to see Spotless Starlings. These birds compeletely replace the Common Starlings in Southern Europe, although in Winter both species occur. An unusual yellowy coloured House Sparrow was present with the other Sparrows. It was an amazing place and this was just the beginning, there was a lot more to come.


Extremadura, Spain
22nd-28th April 2017

Thekla Lark

Crested Lark

Crested Lark

Crested Lark

Moorish Gecko

Serin [Male]

Spotless Starling [Summer]

Spotless Starling [Summer]

Sunday 23rd April 2017

 

Our first full day in Extremadura began on the plains between Trujillo, Santa Marta De Magasca & Caceres. The first birds we saw were Spanish Sparrows perched on the fence posts. They unfortunately disappeared, so there were no pictures of them. Other birds around the area was a very showy Thekla Lark singing on a fence post. We only saw a few Great Bustards on the plains and they were very distant. Some Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse made a few fly pasts. While we were walking down the track we spotted a small Snake, which was later confirmed as Montpellier Snake. A Green-striped White Butterfly was resting with it's wings closed. A European Bee-eater flew over head. Extremadura is good for a good number of Corn Buntings. I also saw my first Male Montagu's Harrier foraging on the ground, before taking off and flying away. We headed back down the road to have another scan. A Griffon & Black Vulture soared overhead. Spanish Sparrows were drinking from the ponds. We had a bonus bird in the form of a Rufus-tailed Rock Thrush. This bird normally breeds up high in the mountainous region. The nearest mountain range to Santa Marta De Magasca was the Gredos Mountains. On the opposite side of the road were 2 Southern Grey Shrikes. Further along we had very excellent views of European Rollers, unlike the ones we saw in the Carmargue which were more distant. These birds were using nestboxes. Some of the nestboxes were also being used by Little Owl and Lesser Kestrels.

After a while we stopped for lunch in a layby above the valley. We saw Western Dappled White Butterfly, Spanish Terrapin, Bath White, Spanish Marbled White, Black-eyed Blue & Ortolan Bunting, which I didn't get a good picture of but it was nice to see.
A Orphean warbler was heard calling from the hillside but we could not locate it, a Red Kite quickly flew over being chased by a pair of Azure-winged Magpies.


The afternoon was spent searching around the farmland to the west of Trujillo. The first creature to catch the eye was the Continental Swallowtail, which is similar to the British race found in the Norfolk Broads. However when a few reach Britain, they tend to wander further afield, whilst the British population is confined only to the Broads. We also saw a Fan-tailed Warbler, sometimes refered to as Zitting Cisticola. A pair of Montagu's Harrier were hunting around the fields. The Male is similar to a Male Hen Harrier, except for the dark markings on the upper & underwings. The Female by comparison is very like a Female Hen Harrier, except a bit more buff and orange coloured. A Calandra Lark was singing from on the rock. We parked in a layby & walked down the track. We saw Red-striped Oil Beetles, Broad-bodied Chasers, Western Clubtail Dragonfly & Short-toed Lark. A couple of Orchids were found by Martin called Heart-flowered Tongue & Bug Orchids.


On our way back to Trujillo, we spotted a Black Kite perched on top of a building.


After dinner we went to look for the Red-necked Nightjar. Our first bird of the evening was a Wryneck.  A Short-toed Treecreeper was seen in a small woodland. We waited a while before the Nightjar appeared. Unlike the European Nightjar which has churring song, Red-necked Nightjar has a hollow knocking song. It also has a red neck. Mum spotted it singing up in the tree & showing well. After a while it flew off to begin it's night time hunting. We headed back to guesthouse. We saw a Cicada & Marbled Newt on the way.



Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Green-striped White

European Bee-eater

Corn Bunting

Calandra Lark

Black Kite [Adult]

Rufus-tailed Rock Thrush [Male]

Southern Grey Shrike

Little Owl

European Roller

European Rollers

Western Dappled White

Black-eyed Blue

Azure-winged Magpie & Red Kite

European Swallowtail

Fan-tailed Warbler

Montagu’s Harrier [Male]

Calandra Lark

Red-striped Oil Beetle

Broad-bodied Chaser [Female]

Broad-bodied Chaser [Male]

Bug Orchid

Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid

Montagu’s Harrier [Male]

Western Clubtail

Black Kite [Adult]

Short-toed Treecreeper

Red-necked Nightjar [Male]

Marbled Newt

Monday 24th April 2017

Our early morning walk began at 7:15AM and we walk up Church Lane. We saw Corn Bunting, Woodchat Shrike, Hoopoe, White Stork & a brief view of Azure-winged Magpies.

After breakfast we headed to the plains south of Trujillo. We saw a very distant Male Little Bustard displaying. This bird has declined rapidly in recent years. A Hoopoe was calling on a dry stone wall. A Black-winged Kite flew west and a Marsh Harrier flew east. Another Black-winged Kite hovered above the fields. A Female Montagu's Harrier flew down the road towards us and landed briefly before taking off again.

We went further along a lane & on the opposite side of the road was a building that was used by nesting Lesser Kestrels. The Female is very much like a Female Common Kestrel, except long primary tips of it's wings extend beyond the tertials. The Male has a blue forewing when perched. In flight it’s unlike Common Kestrels, they have a white underwing. Nearby there was a pair of Black-eared Wheatears. A Booted Eagle flew overhead. A Stone Curlew was resting amongst the vegetation. Further on there was a another Hoopoe perched on a rock & another Black-eared Wheater on the fence. One of the European Bee-eaters used a crash barrier for a perch. A White Stork flew past.

We had a quick stop near the rice filelds looking over a river and reedbed, were we saw Great Reed Warblers, Melodious Warbler, Golden Oriole (heard only) and Penduline Tit.

A few minutes later we stop on another bridge and saw White Stork on a nest and a Spotted Crake (with difficulty).

We had lunch in the layby overlooking the Pena Mountain Range. There were quite a few Griffon Vultures, Black Stork, Alpine Swifts some of the group saw a Golden Oriole in the trees along b the river. Two Bonelli's Eagles flew in and landed on a pilon.

Our final port of call for the day was some wetlands, which I think are used to suply the rice fields. The birds here were Kentish Plovers, Ringed PLover, Little ringed Plover, Avocet, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandiper, Black-winged Stilts, Dunlin and star birds were Collared Pratincoles.

We found a Marsh Fritillary in the garden that evening. Later that evening we manged to see some Azure-winged Magpies perched but the light was fading.

Montagu’s Harrier [Female]

White Stork [Adult]

Black-winged Kite [Adult]

Montagu’s Harrier [Female]

Lesser Kestrel [Female]

Booted Eagle [Adult]

Black-eared Wheatear [Male]

European Bee-eater

White Stork [Adult]

Lesser Kestrel [Male]

Hoopoe

Pena Mountain Range

Griffon Vulture

Red-rumped Swallow [Adult]

Bonelli’s Eagle

Bonelli’s Eagles

Collared Pratincole

Black-winged Stilt [Male]

Collared Pratincoles

Marsh Fritillary

Collared Pratincole

Tuesday 25th April 2017

We had a early morning walk around the town. The first bird we saw was a showy Nightingale singing from the tree. There was an Azure-winged Magpie on the path further up and while I was trying to see how closer view I could get, Dad was watching a Melodius Warbler singing from a bush. GRRRR! Still I’ve got plenty of time to catch up with another one.

After breakfast we headed down to the dam at Alange Reservoir where there was a big colony of Alpine Swifts. They nest in the actual dam. Also Gull-billed Terns were flying around the reservoir. The nearby rocky outcrop provided the habitat for Rock Bunting & Black Wheatears. A pair of Crag Martins were collecting mud from the path for their nest. A Purple Heron flew over the dam. A pair of White Storks were on a nest below the dam.



We went to Merida for lunch. We saw a Black-crowned Night Heron & Little Bittern flying past. A Hoopoe was also foraging nearby and occasionally giving a high pitch contact call. A couple of Glossy Ibis also flew past. A Male Serin was singing from the roof of a house. From the Roman Bridge we saw Cattle Egrets, Red-eared Terrapins, Pallid Swifts, Golden Oriole flying over and a Purple Swamphen or Gallinule. The afternoon was spent at Alcollorin Reservoir. We saw Gull-billed Terns, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egrets, Spoonbills, Scarlet Darter, White Storks, Red-rumped Swallow, Woodchat Shrike & Common Sandpiper.

Back near the guesthouse a pair of Sardinian Warblers were still showing well occasionally on & off.  A Black Kite flew over. Also managed to get excellent views of Azure-winged Magpies on the ground. A Corn Bunting was singing from a fence post.

Me photographing the Swifts

Alpine Swift

Gull-billed Tern [Summer]

Alpine Swifts

Alpine Swift

Alpine Swifts

Black Wheatear [Male]

Crag Martin

Roman Bridge, Merida

Hoopoe

Glossy Ibis [Summer]

Red-eared Terrapin

Pallid Swift

Pallid Swift

Purple Gallinule [Adult]

Woodchat Shrike

Purple Gallinule [Adult]

Woodchat Shrike

Cattle Egrets

Sardinian Warbler [Male]

Azure-winged Magpie

Sardinian Warbler [Male]

Azure-winged Magpie

Wednesday 26th April 2017

We had a early morning walk around the town & the star birds were a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos. A Sardinian Warbler showed well outside the house.

We made our way to the Monfargue National Park, stopping near Trujillo to look for Great Spotted Cuckoos. We didn't see any that morning but we saw a Knapweed Fritillary and Southern Grey Shrike.

In the Monfrague National Park we saw more Griffon Vultures, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, Rock Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Black Stork & Red-rumped Swallow from the first viewpoint.


The next viewpoint overlooked the lake & more mountains. A few more Griffon Vultures were flying & nesting. A couple of Egyptian Vultures flew around the top of the mountains and landed briefly. They are a bit smaller than a Griffon. The veiwpoint overlooks a nest site of Spainsh Imperial Eagles, sadly the chick died earlier this year due to the lack of Rabbits. Which would explain why the Adult that we saw didn't hang around very long.


After lunch we had a walk around another part of the National Park. The Rock Sparrows that breed here weren't easy to see & kept giving us flight views only. The Western Orphean Warbler was singing nearby. A Male Golden Oriole showed well at times.

On to another stop where the woods were good for Mediterranean Speckled Wood, Serin, Spanish Gatekeeper an Crested Tits and a Booted Eagle.

In more open habitat, a Red Deer Hind was feeding briefly before walking into the bushes for shade. We saw the Deer sitting in the bushes, while we were walking down the road. We managed to see 2 Western Orphean Warblers briefly in some bushes.

From the final viewpoint within the National Park we had a treetop view of a pair of Golden Orioles. A Bonelli's Eagle flew overhead.

After having tip off about the Scops Owl roosting in a local park the previous evening, on the way back to the guesthouse we stopped off to see the pair of European Scops Owls roosting in a tree.

On the evening walk we didn't see or hear any Long-eared Owls, but we saw another showy Nightingale which was later flushed by three big guard dogs jumping up the wall.

Monfrague National Park

Griffon Vulture

Knapweed Fritillary

Blue Rock Thrush [Male]

Blue Rock Thrush [Male]

Crag Martin

Black Stork [Adult]

Blue Rock Thrush [Male]

Rock Bunting [Male]

Red-rumped Swallow [Adult]

The group at Monfrague

Griffon Vulture

Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture

Spanish Imperial Eagle

The group at Monfrague

Golden Oriole [Male]

Spanish Gatekeeper

Mediterranean Speckled Wood

Crested Tit

Bonelli’s Eagle

Red Deer [Female]

Western Orphean Warbler

European Scops Owl

Egyptian Vulture

Thursday 27th April 2017

We started as with previous mornings with a walk around the town. A pair of Short-toed Treecreepers were feeding youngsters in the old building. There was nothing much else, apart from the Goldfinch feeding along the road.

After breakfast, we headed to place called Jaraicejo & to the east of the town lies some pristine heathland. The first bird we saw there was a Black Vulture, it's one of Europe's biggest Vulture species. Dartford Warblers perched briefly. A Corn Bunting sang on the wire. A Spectacled Warbler showed briefly in flight & perched on the gorse. Butterflies included Small Copper and Queen of Spain Fritillaries.


On the way to Arrocampo we stop and found a Melodious Warbler, Sub-alpine Warbler and Ophean Warbler. At Arrocampo we saw a Purple Gallinule fly into the reeds. A Female Little Bittern showed well at the back of a small pond. A pair of Stonechats were feeding youngsters. A Pair of White Storks were nesting. Also saw a couple of North Banded Groundlings, a species of dragonfly. A Male Little Bittern flew across to the reeds on the other side. We first heard a Savi's Warbler reeling but was not seen. We drove around the wetlands where we saw Great White Egret, Cattle Egrets, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis & Black-winged Stilts. A couple of European Bee-eaters perched on the fence posts but were very jumpy.
Back near Arrocampo a couple of Purple Herons flew over. Also saw a couple of Long Skimmers & Sqaucco Herons. One Savi's Warbler showed well on top of a reed and reeling. Sadly this individual had its tail missing, possibly lost it in a battle with other males. A Spoonbill flew over and landed out of site & a Black-crowned Night Heron flew past.

We went to an area near Almarz for Eagle Owl. There was only a Juvenile visible on the cliff edge. The Adults were probably nearby roosting in a cave. It was also a place for a rare & special Orchids. We saw the Almarz Bee Orchid, this species is found in this part of Europe & nowhere else. Also in flower was Woodcock Orchid. We also saw a False Ilex Hairstreak Butterfly. A Booted Eagle flew over. We heard Cirl Buntings singing on the other side of the quarry, but couldn't be located. Later that day I manged to photograph a Male Serin bathing from the guesthouse.

Black Vulture

Short-toed Treecreeper

Short-toed Treecreeper

Dartford Warbler [Male]

Queen of Spain Fritillary

Arrocampo Reservoir

Little Bittern [Female]

Stonechat [Female]

Stonechat [Male]

White Stork [Adult]

Black-winged Stilt [Female]

Black-winged Stilt [Male]

Glossy Ibis [Summer]

Purple Heron [Adult]

Squacco Heron

Long Skimmer [Female]

Great White Egret [Summer]

Great White Egret [Winter]

Purple Heron [Adult]

Savi’s Warbler

Almarz Orchid

Woodcock Orchid

False Ilex Hairstreak

Serin [Male]

Friday 28th April 2017

Our last full day in Extremadura began with an early morning walk. A Corn Bunting was singing from a small bush. The original plan was to head up into the Gredos Mountains in search of mountain species, but due to bad weather forecasted we stuck with the idea of going back to the plains.

After breakfast we headed back to the plains between Trujillo, Caceres & Santa Marta De Magasca for some more sightings of Spanish Sparrows and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. It was quite a cold day. What a differance a week made! We didn't see any Great Bustards, Butterflies or Snakes this time. We still had great views of both Thekla and Crested Larks on the fence posts. Fewer European Rollers were perched of the wires this time. I managed to photograph a European Roller & Male Lesser Kestrel in flight together. Further along the road we had excellent views of an Adult Great Spotted Cuckoo perched on the fence at close quarters. A couple of Short-toed Larks were foraging on the road.

Saturday 29th April 2017

After breakfast we headed back along the motorway towards Madrid from Trujillo. We stopped halfway to get fuel before completing our journey to Madrid Airport where we said goodbye to Martin before catching our flight back to London Gatwick.

It had been fantastic week and I saw 46 new birds that hoilday. Extremadura, what a magical place!

Many thanks to Judd Hunt of Shetland Wildlife and Martin, Claudia and Patrick Kelsey for looking after us so well.




We went back to look for Pratincoles, but the weather was getting worse. A Temminck’s Stint Ns Spooted Redshank were added to the waders. We drove back along the road to Vagus Altas where we saw some European Bee-eaters. We also made an exciting find in the form of a Juvenile Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, which was a first for Extremadura and the 9th record for Spain. Judd contacted Martin about it on the radio & in no time at all, Martin pulled up alongside us. This could be a bird from Morocco as they breed early in the year. It dropped down onto the ground for a while. Then it perched further down the fence line & after coughing up a pellet, it flew off with the other Bee-eaters. There were few more Bee-eaters further up the road. A Turtle Dove was perched in the tree. Later we saw a flock of Turtle Doves near the rice fields. Further down we saw some Red Avadavats in the field. A White Stork foraged in another field. Near Madrigalejo we saw a couple of perched Collared Pratincoles in the flooded fields. Afterwards we made our way back to the guesthouse to get ourselves ready for the journey home the following day.

Great Spotted Cuckoo [Adult]

Thekla Lark

European Roller

Great Spotted Cuckoo [Adult]

Short-toed Lark

European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater [Juvenile]

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater [Juvenile]

Red Avadavat

White Stork [Adult]

Turtle Dove [Pair]

Collared Pratincole

Bee-eater

Extremadura 2017