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Posted on Mar 6, 2013 | 0 comments

Outside Asturias: Monfragüe, Extremadura

A view of the ‘Dehesa‘.  Grazing land amongst the Cork, Holm and Portuguese oaks – taken from the path leading to Castillo de Monfragüe.

Last weekend we crossed the border of Asturias, drove over the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range and passed through Castile and Leon. As ‘aficionados de la naturaleza’ we’ve often been told “you must go to Monfragüe, it’s a birders paradise”. So Monfragüe National Park in Extremadura was the destination.

We enjoyed clear blue skies, although the strong sun was accompanied by a cold wind.

Bird sightings were of impressive quality.  Among the highlights were – Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Stork, Black Stork, Red Kite, Peregrine Falcon. As well as deer, fox and an otter family.

Belinda watching for Griffon, Black and Egyptian vultures, Imperial Eagles and otters – from Portilla del Tiétar. We spotted them all from this viewpoint.

A griffon vulture near the dam at La Malavuelta.

A griffon vulture at Salto del Gitano. There was a large vulture colony here. We also saw Peregrine Falcon and an Imperial Eagle calling.

An otter fishing at Portilla del Tiétar.

The mother otter returned to the holt and 2 cubs appeared.

Fox in Monfragüe, Extremadura
At dusk a fox appeared. It was a chance sighting and already getting dark. I didn’t have much time to fine tune camera settings but managed this shot even with a slow shutter speed.

Another reason to visit Monfragüe was to meet up with some good friends and head to the Feria Internacional de Turismo Ornitológico, an event showcasing bird watching tourism in Extremadura and other regions of Spain.

There were numerous talks and workshops including;

Matt Doggett and Richard Shucksmith from Earth in Focus, who spoke of the methods they used to capture images of Gannets underwater off the coast of Shetland Isles.

We also very impressed with a talk by Javier Ramos and Rafael Ramos who outlined camouflage and hide techniques used in bird photography.

The website of Wild Watching Spain is well worth a visit.  They offer specialist packages for wildlife observation and photography.

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