Showing posts from March, 2010

Honeyguiding in Extremadura

Every spring, in March, I help lead a holiday in Extremadura for the small tour company Honeyguide. It is run by Chris Durdin (ex-RSPB) and has a strong conservation ethic. Each year the holiday in Extremadura makes a donation to the Spanish Ornithological Society (this year over 900 euros) and similar support to given to local conservation bodies and projects in all of its destinations. The company has a very loyal client base (indeed all 14 of the members on this year's holiday had been on Honeyguide holidays before) and aims at those who have a broad interest in natural history, so ample time is given not just to birds, but also other animals and plants. We really explore to get a good idea of not just what is around, but also what makes it tick, understanding the landscape, visiting different habitats. Although botanically the spring has been slow, we found almost all of the plants we were hoping for, including six species of orchids and some wonderful specimens of Iberian Fri

Spring comes rolling in

I have just completed leading a thoroughly enjoyable and productive six day tour here in Extremadura and after three months of seemingly almost endless rain, the sunny days and blue skies were a blessing indeed. The landscape is emerald green now, with a haze of yellow crucifer, with clumps of wild narcissus. We did extremely well for birds, each day producing memorable highlights: my first Purple Heron of the spring, four Spoonbill flying in a line against a deep blue sky, no fewer than twenty species of birds of prey, a total of 75 Great Bustards and wonderfully close views of Little Bustard in a flower-rich meadow, fifteen species of wader (not bad for the interior of Spain in mid-March), both sandgrouse, no fewer than ten Great Spotted Cuckoo sightings in one morning, eye-level views of Alpine Swifts in the mountains, Pallid Swifts in late afternoon sunshine whilst we sat in the main square of Trujillo, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming near the house literally as we were leavin

Urban Birding with the Urban Birder

Mérida is the capital city of Extremadura with a very important Roman heritage. One of the most impressive features is the Roman bridge which spans the Guadiana river right in the centre of the city. As well as an extraordinary historic site, it can also be one of the best places for birding in Extremadura. I was there at dawn on Wednesday with David Lindo (aka the Urban Birder - see his website ) and his photographer Russell Spencer. David is a passionate advocate of the joys of urban birding, demonstrating what tremendous opportunities there are in towns and cities around the world. Most people live in cities and yet many overlook just what potential there is right on their doorsteps to watch birds and other wildlife. David is a great communicator and on top of that, an outstanding birder - I enjoyed every minute of the two days I had to show David and Russell some of the urban birding opportunities in Extremadura. In just an hour on the Roman Bridge we had see