Showing posts from April, 2016

Extremadura: Iberian Ibex

There was one Extremaduran animal that stood out to me when looking around at places to visit in the region. The first species to ever become 'un-extinct' and one of Europe's rarest mammals - the Iberian Ibex.

There are four known subspecies of Iberian Ibex, two of which are extinct. The subspecies of interest to us in Extremadura was capra pyrenaica victoriae ; the Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex, found only in particular small mountain ranges in Central Spain, in particular the Sierra de Gredos - the range on the northern border of Extremadura. A small population still survives in a national park in Northern Portugal as well.

The other surviving subspecies, the Southeastern Spanish Ibex, is endemic to mountain ranges in Southern Spain, particularly in Andalucia. The other two subspecies, the Portuguese and Pyrenean Ibex went exctinct in 1892 and 2000 respectively. Interestingly though, the Pyrenean Ibex is the first ever taxon to become 'un-extinct', when a clo…

Extremadura: The Lords of the Plains

Locally nicknamed the 'Lords of the Plains', the Bustards of Extremadura are one of the major attractions for birdwatchers from around the world and, in my opinion, understandingly. The two species that roam the steppes in this region certainly deserve their nickname, and the respect they get from both the people around them, and the travellers who come to see them.  

As one of my favourite birds, and one I have only ever seen once before, the Great Bustard was a steppe species I really wanted to see. The plains around Trujillo and Caceres make the perfect habitat for these charismatic birds, so it wasn't long before we caught our first glimpse. Whilst driving through the plains along a dusty country lane, we were met by a small group of Bustards, in flight, travelling towards us. Luckily for us, they landed on the far side of the field next to us, allowing us to get out and have a look. This group were all females, and soon were sat down in the long grass, with only their …

Extremadura: Raptors

raptor list:
Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Red Kite, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Montagu's Harrier, Marsh Harrier.

Extremadura is a raptor haven. Whether you're hiking in the mountains, on the steppes, exploring the dehesas or simply driving along the roads or motorways, you'll see raptors. Extremadura boasts a variety of raptor species - vultures and eagles patrol the cliffs whilst harriers and kestrels scour the steppes. With such a high density of raptors, it was hard not to see a lot of the species on offer.

The species we saw in the greatest number was the Griffon Vulture, by a long way. Monfrague National Park has up to 600 pairs living and nesting within the park. So it wasn't surprising that it was here that we saw Griffon Vultures in their largest numbers. 

Monfrague Castle offered fantastic views of vultures who glided lazily past us, very close -…

Extremadura: An Introduction

Extremadura is a remote region of Western Spain, bordering Portugal, known particularly for its diverse wildlife. The region mainly comprises of forests, mountains, lakes and steppes, which support an enormous array of animals; birdlife in particular. In fact, Extremadura is famous for its birdlife, in particular its large numbers and density of birds of prey.

We have spent the past 10 days in this area, looking for its many species of wildlife, both in national parks and in its towns and along its roads. More posts to come.
The particular species of interest in Extremadura include the rare Spanish Imperial Eagle, found only in this part of Spain, various vulture species, harriers, bustards and the Iberian Ibex, found only in Extremadura and in the mountains of the south-east of Spain.
Habitats: To support the vast number of species it does, Extremadura has a wide variety of habitats, including mountains, steppes and dehesas.

The dehesas of Extremadura cover 35% of the total area, and are …