Monday 6th May 2013

   First real day of the holiday. Decent(ish) buffet breakfast, had to pay extra for it, but worth it. Nicked a few bits and bobs for the journey!!!!

   Drove North to Avila, then towards the Gredos Mountains. The birds that would become regular, were all seen on the drive. Red & Black Kite(loads), White Storks (nesting on nearly every pylon), Spotless Starlings and Woodchat Shrike. A Short-toed Eagle was seen and a couple of Hoopoes too.

   As we got up higher there seemed to be Cuckoos everywhere, calling and being seen. Never seen so many before! First proper stop was Parador de Gredos, a rather posh looking Hotel, to look for Citril Finch mainly. Birds here included Serin, Linnet, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Western Bonellis Warbler, and what sounded like Citril Finch too. After about 5 minutes only, something caught my eye, near the small church like building on the other side of the road. I walked up, and there on the grass were a pair of Citril Finches, my first lifer. We drove around looking for more, but no sign, i did hear more though.

Spanish Wagtail (Male)
   Next stop, La Platforma. This is a car park at the end of a road into the Mountains. It is used mainly for walkers etc. to walk to the Cirque de Gredos, and the Laguna. As we turned onto the road a male Serin sat in a bush right alongside the car, and had a preen. We stopped by the river halfway down, Coal, Great and Blue Tit, lots of Serin, Nightingales and a Grey Wagtail were seen and heard. A bit farther on, near a farm with some sheep pens, there were a few birds, including about 5 Northern and 1 Black-eared Wheatear, Corn Buntings(everywhere), White & Spanish (Yellow) Wagtails, a Woodlark and Black Redstarts.

Rock Bunting (Male)
   We drove on higher up. I was hoping for Bluethroat and Ortolan Bunting here, but we didnt see much at all. A couple of Griffon Vultures flew over, a couple of Ravens and a Booted Eagle. We got to the car park, i had told my Dad that he would see Rock Bunting here, as i had seen them before there. First bird i saw was a Dunnock, but in almost the exact spot i saw one last time, was a male Rock Bunting. A pair of Black Redstarts were nesting in the buildings there, and a pair of Spanish Wagtails were about.

   On the way back down we saw our first Blue Rock Thrush, bit distant though. A stop at the farm again, this time there was a too brief view of a male Ortolan Bunting! All the other birds were still there. After a few stops on the way back, which didnt produce anything else new, except hearing a Fan-tailed Warbler, we were back on the main road, the Valley de Jerte. Onto Plasencia, then to the Camping Monfrague, where we would be staying for 6 nights. In the campsite we had, Azure-winged Magpies, this is the easiest place to see them anywhere, as they come down to bread!!!! Also Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.

Crag Martin
   Sorted all our stuff out then took a drive to Salto del Gitano, and Pena Falcon. The Salto is a watch point, with a car park, over looking the river and a big rock, Pena Falcon. There we had lots of Griffon Vultures, worth a visit just to see them all! There are also at least 2 pairs of Black Stork nesting there, a pair of Ravens and a pair of Peregrines were seen. Around the car park were Crag & House Martins, Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows, Rock Bunting, Serin and Linnet.

   Not a bad first day. Hopefully not so much driving from now on, until the long drive across the country!!!!!

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