Sierra Grande de Hornachos

One of the great things about birding in Extremadura, Spain is the incredible number of different sites within which to spend hours birding. It is a region the size of Wales that most visiting birders spend time only in the key spots like Peña Falcón (Falcon Rock) in Monfragüe or the steppes around Trujillo.

The other day I ventured into the Sierra Grande de Hornachos in west central Extremadura. Situated next to the Moorish town of Hornachos it is a Special Protection Area for birds and a Site of Scientific Interest.

I spent a couple of hours alternatively driving around and then walking trails encountering only a few locals. I saw many of the classic species for this steppe meets mountain habitat including Rock Thrush, Dartford Warbler and Black-bellied Sandgrouse.

I also spent time watching Thekla Larks sing.

The shorter and straighter bill plus the bespectacled look on its face are among a couple of the suite of identification features that help separate it from the frustratingly similar Crested Lark.

I was also lucky to watch up to three Golden Eagles at close range whilst I stood by a roadside. I still find it hard to comprehend seeing these majestic birds away from the high remote mountains of Scotland and instead under a hot Spanish sun.

At one point one of the birds was mobbed by a Booted Eagle. The size difference was astounding!

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