• Little Owl

Extremadura, Spain – Winter Tour

Cranes, Bustards, Sandgrouse and Vultures!

  • Duration

    7 December 2024 to 13 December 2024

  • Location

    Extremadura (Spain)

  • Led by

    David Lindo – The Urban Birder with Martin Kelsey

  • Group size

    up to 8 participants

  • For assistance with booking flights

    please contact Sacha Barbato at Travel Counsellors
    +44 (0)1603 360 099

  • Price

    £1,500 per person plus flight

  • Single supplement


  • Deposit

    £300 per person

  • Remaining balance due 60 days before travel start date

    Second Payment: 7/10/2024

  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com

Free loan of Leica binoculars is available for the duration of the tour – subject to availability. Please ask for details.

About Spain

Spain is by far the most well known destinations in Europe when it comes to wildlife and it brings in birders from all over the world.

Extremadura is perhaps the best region in Spain for birding. Situated inland in the southwest of Spain, the region butts onto the border of Portugal. At twice the size of Wales the region is sparsely populated with just over a million inhabitants.

The local currency is the Euro.

Tour overview

Extremadura, although well known by British birders, is one of the least known regions of Spain – even by the Spaniards. The area is twice the size of Wales and is indeed, Spain’s biggest secret.

The region is traditionally known as spring venue for birding and wildlife watching but the autumn and winter are nevertheless rewarding times to visit. Although most of the summer visitors like the Lesser Kestrels may have left there is some autumn passage continuing and the winter visitors are arriving. Indeed, as a whole Extremadura has the richest winter birdlife of any region in Spain and the most individual wintering birds than almost anywhere else in Western Europe. One of the lasting impressions visitors will have of Extremadura is of the sheer number of birds, everywhere.

Extremadura boasts a wonderful variety of habitats ranging from mixed-farming plains to open managed woodland pasture where the famous Iberian pigs roam free-range, deep rocky valleys, irrigated lands, reservoirs and mountains. Added to this mix are the beautiful towns and villages that are steeped in history and great for wildlife. During the time of this tour the landscape will be turning green after the summer drought with beautiful autumn flowers in bloom attracting the remaining butterflies and dragonflies that are still present.

The specialty resident steppe species like the Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse will be findable. Winter flocks of Stone Curlew gather making them much easier to see than during the spring. Passage waders like Black-tailed Godwits and waterfowl like geese will be moving through the rice- fields where the harvest will be starting, inducing feeding frenzies amongst the egrets, storks and gulls that follow the combines and tractors.

The autumn is a very special time within Spain’s fifth biggest region. At this time year the region’s signature bird – the elegant Common Crane – is to be found abundantly frequenting the rice fields and dehesas (cork oak woodlands). Their musical and wild bugling calls can sometimes fill the air as nervous flocks consisting of family parties take to the skies as they traverse to their feeding areas. An important portion of the world’s population, in excess of 150,000 birds, choose to winter in Extremadura, where the locals welcome them with open arms. Indeed, their grace and elegance has been well appreciated and celebrated throughout the ages and the Spanish affectionately call them, ‘Damas Grises’ – Ladies in Grey.

Meanwhile, at the world famous Monfragüe National Park, Red Deer will be rutting with Griffon and Black Vultures drifting over their heads. Whilst indulging in those sights and sounds there is a good chance for viewing a local Golden or Iberian Imperial Eagles.

The return to Madrid will include an en route visit to the Embalse de Arrocampo, one of the top birding hotspots of the region.

Expected birds

Great Egret, White Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Black-winged Kite, Golden Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Western Swamphen, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Common Crane, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Owl, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla’s Lark, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Bluethroat, Cetti’s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Spotless Starling and possible suprises!


NB. The sequence of places visited may alter to take into account changes in the weather.

Saturday 7 December – Arrive in Madrid Airport

After an early afternoon arrival we will transfer to Extremadura in a comfortable minibus. Journey time approximately 3 hours.

Overnight stay for the duration of the tour at Casa Rural El Recuerdo, our tranquil and rural base near Trujillo, in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura.

Sunday 8 December – the rice fields of central Extremadura

We start the holiday exploring the areas of irrigated farmland in the centre of Extremadura. Although not deliberately intended these vast swathes of land have become a vital ‘happy accident’ habitat for numerous species of birds. After the rice is harvested, the farmers flood the fields in readiness for the next sowing of seeds which is normally in the spring. We may come across tractors working in these wet fields being followed by hordes of Black-headed Gulls, White Stork, Cattle and Little Egrets. This interim period ties in beautifully with the migrations of shorebirds and the cranes that sometimes gather in number on favoured fields. Some of the fields resemble mini wetlands whilst others are just plain muddy!

But it is in some of these fields where the largest concentrations of Common Cranes can be found and we will find large flocks, sometimes numbering in their hundreds, of this wonderful bird. The area is also excellent for waders like Dunlin, Northern Lapwing and Black-winged Stilt along with smaller numbers of Common Snipe, Ruff, Little Stint, Common Greenshank and, if we are lucky, Jack Snipe. Birds of prey will be prevalent especially Western Marsh Harriers and the occasional passing Hen Harrier. We will not overlook the reed-filled ditches for the winter flocks of hundreds of Spanish Sparrow along with groups of the gorgeous naturalized Red Avadavat and Common Waxbills. We should also happen across many Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail smaller numbers of Water Pipit and we may find Bluethroat.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

Monday 9 December – Monfragüe National Park

This will be a day spent in the iconic Monfragüe National Park. No self-respecting birder can ever come to Extremadura and not visit this world-famous place. It is a superb site for raptors. Expect to have scintillating views of both Black and Griffon Vultures as they swill around the imposing Peña Falcon; the huge cliff face that seems to be focal point for raptors. There will also be a possibility to see Peregrine, Red Kite and eagles. We will travel through part of the National Park tracing the dammed Rió Tiétar on the lookout for more raptors as well as rock dwellers like Crag Martin, Black Redstart, Rock Bunting and Blue Rock Thrush. We will also search for woodland species such as Hawfinch, Firecrest and Crested Tit.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

Tuesday 10 December – the plains of Trujillo

After breakfast we will visit the plains and river valleys west of Trujillo. Here, we will be on the lookout for four of Extremadura’s signature birds: Great and Little Bustards and Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. The supporting cast will include more Griffon and Black Vultures, Western Marsh and Hen Harriers and hopefully eagles like the Spanish Imperial may make an appearance. Expect Calandra, Crested and Thekla’s Larks, flocks of Corn Bunting and Spanish Sparrow and hopefully Rock Sparrow and Little Owl.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

Wednesday 11 December – Sierra Grande de Hornachos and Llera

Today, we will head south into the Badajoz Province to visit the stunning Sierra Grande de Hornachos. We will explore this mountainous area on the lookout for Spanish Imperial, Golden and Bonelli’s Eagles as well as for the area’s specialty, the Black Wheatear. Hornachos is arguably the best place in Extremadura to find this nationally decreasing and incredibly handsome wheatear. We will have lunch at nearby Llera where we will also keep an eye out for Spanish Imperial Eagle, Red Kite and Chough. In the bushes around us could also be Thekla’s Lark and lurking Dartford Warbler.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

Thursday 12 December – reservoirs around the Cáceres city

On this, our final full day, we will start proceedings by visiting Parque Principal in Cáceres for a spot of urban birding. This large park near the centre of this beautiful medieval city is a surprising hotspot for birds. It is also the best place in the whole of Extremadura for getting up close and personal with Iberian Magpies. This Iberian endemic seem to be quite fearless in the park and can often allow close approach – ideal for photography.

Afterwards, we will tour some of the many reservoirs around the city targeting waterfowl like Northern Pintail and will be search for any shorebirds that we might find like Green Sandpiper and ‘grasspipers’ like European Golden Plover.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

Friday 13 December – back to Madrid and home…

After breakfast, we will transfer to Madrid for the flight home via a brief visit to the Embalse de Arrocampo. This area of reservoirs is one of the hotspots of the region and is great for finding Western Swamphen, Water Rail, Bluethroat and possible Bearded Tits.

Special trip notes

The tour will depart from Madrid Terminal 1 at 1400hrs so it is imperative that participants arrange to arrive at the airport before that time. Indeed, you should aim to book flights that arrive at the airport by 1300hrs.

For the return flight, clients should book flights departing after 1500hrs on the final day.

This trip is suitable for all ages and abilities.

The pace of this tour will gentle. We will let the wildlife come to us

In Extremadura most of the region’s rain falls during the spring and autumn/winter. There can be a tendency for fog/mist first thing the morning. But this is often patchy and localized. The temperature will be comfortable during the day, but the mornings can be particularly chilly so bring warm clothing as well as wet weather apparel, but we should also be able to enjoy some sunshine as well.

If you need any outdoor apparel, you can enjoy a 15% discount from Páramo Directional Clothing whose fabulous products are all ethically manufactured. Please visit this link.

Recommended literature

  • Collins Bird Guide – Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterström
  • Crossbill Guide for Extremadura
  • Martin Kelsey’s blog: http://birdingextremadura.blogspot.com.es/

Book now

  • Duration: 7 December 2024 to 13 December 2024
  • Price: £1,500 per person plus flight
  • Single supplement: £140
  • Deposit: £300 per person
  • Remaining balance due 60 days before travel start date

    Second Payment: 07/10/2024

  • Group size: up to 8 participants
  • For assistance with booking flights

    please contact Sacha Barbato at Travel Counsellors
    +44 (0)1603 360 099

  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com

Cranes, Bustards, Sandgrouse and Vultures!

— 7 December 2024 – 13 December 2024 —

Led by David Lindo – The Urban Birder with Martin Kelsey


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Price includes

  • Full board accommodation.
  • Drinks and meals.
  • Transport in a comfortable minibus.
  • The services of your guide David Lindo – The Urban Birder and Martin Kelsey
  • The optional loan of a pair of sexy Leica binoculars for the duration of the tour – subject to availability –

Price does not include

  • Airline tickets and airport taxes
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Entry fees to monuments and museums (if desired)
  • Incidental refreshments at cafes and bars, plus all additional drinks


I’m slowly coming back down to earth after my trip, I was quite knocked out by Extremadura. Everything about it was good – the accommodation & food, the company, your knowledge, and the birds of course. So thank you, and you’ll likely see me on another trip sometime.

Polly Taylor(Edinburgh, Scotland)

The tour was more amazing than I expected

Lilian Holmes(Birmingham, London)

Ashley and I wanted to thank you so much for guiding us on that wonderful tour in Extremadura last week. Your knowledge and expertise were truly amazing and we really enjoyed seeing so many new birds – BIMBOS!

Anthea & Ashley Edgar(Cambridge, England)

It really was an excellent weeks birding: the welcome from David and Martin, the group of such lovely people who all got on so well together. The trips around the Extremadura countryside, the evenings, the food and drink, Martin and Claudia’s hospitality, David and Martin’s knowledge and of course, not forgetting the birds all made it a very worthwhile experience. I’m very glad I came on it. I shall tell every one at home how good it was.

John Lilley(Essex, England)

Thank you a really enjoyable few days, lots of birds, lots of wine, very nice accommodation really nice group.

Mike Beer(Cheltenham, England)

Just to let you know I really enjoyed the week’s birding in Extremadura. I felt really welcome since we met at the airport. It was great to benefit from the in depth knowledge both you and Martin had of the birds in the area and it was nice to have the company of other birders in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

James Walsh(Leeds, England)

The whole package was just great. Casa rural El Recuerdo was a superb place to stay and we couldn’t have been looked after any better. The company was amazing, light hearted birding at its best, just what we wanted! We especially enjoyed the Alpine Swifts and Spanish Imperial Eagles. So pleased we visited AMUS (conservation centre & wildlife Hospital) too and we’re now able to support their valuable work.

Louise & Jim Bentley(Bolton, England)