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Spain - Extremadura

Birds of prey, bustards, sandgrouse and brilliant Spanish spring birding

2025 Dates
  • 23 Apr - 30 Apr 2025
Duration8 Days
2025 Price
£2095 pp
£235 single supplement. Deposit £400

pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are inc.

2026 Dates
  • 18 Apr - 25 Apr 2026
Duration8 Days
2026 Price
Price TBC
2027 Dates
  • 17 Apr - 24 Apr 2027
Duration8 Days
2027 Price
Price TBC
Max Group Size12

Extremadura and the Monfragüe National Park are brimming with some of the best birdwatching in Europe, featuring many of Europe’s rarest and most endangered species.

We will enjoy truly outstanding raptor watching, with all five Spanish breeding eagles, Bonelli’s, Golden, Booted, Short-toed and threatened Spanish Imperial, plus three vultures, Eurasian Black, Egyptian and Griffon. Sightings of these birds can be truly exceptional, as all can be seen close to our vehicles. Lesser Kestrel and Black-winged Kite are a delight in sites we know well, and we should have regular sightings of Montagu's Harrier.

The holiday begins with a transfer to our hotel, with birds of prey overhead virtually from the start. The birding really is exceptional, with birds every few yards it seems. During our days in the steppes, we expect to see good numbers of Great Bustard, and also look for the spectacular breeding display as males almost turn themselves inside out and look like huge white balls of feathers. Other sought-after specialities here are Little Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. Further birds likely in this tremendous area include Bee-eater, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Iberian Grey Shrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Little Owl, Red-rumped Swallow, Calandra Lark, Woodlark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Black-eared Wheatear, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Woodchat Shrike, Crested Tit, Melodious Warbler, Rock Sparrow, Hawfinch and Eurasian Penduline Tit, and we take you to breeding places for both White and Black Stork. We expect very good views of almost all these birds. An exceptional sighting on a recent holiday was of two melanistic Montagu's Harriers, which flew alongside the bus for several minutes.

Around rocky pinnacles, Red-legged Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla's Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin and Alpine Swift are found, and Eurasian Eagle Owl can often be seen at their day-time roost. From our elevated vantage point, we can look down south onto the trees of the Western Holm Oak dehesa, and north over the arid plains of La Serena. The dehesa holds Eurasian Hoopoe, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Azure-winged Magpie, and if we have been lucky with spring rains, will be a carpet of dazzling colour as flowers bloom in the brief, warm spring. In and around the Monfragüe National Park and nearby wetlands to the north, Purple and Squacco Herons, Little Bittern, Spanish Sparrow and Savi´s, Sardinian, Western Bonelli’s, Western Subalpine, Dartford, Spectacled, Western Orphean, Melodious, and perhaps shy Western Olivaceous Warbler are in our sights too. A brilliant experience brim full of birds!

This holiday is leisurely in pace, and most of the key birds are readily available close to our transport. This means we have exceptional chances of viewing the key species on more than one occassion.

Other wildlife includes the large and impressive Ocellated Lizard. Butterflies may include Queen of Spain Fritillary, Green-striped White and Spanish Scarce Swallowtail amongst others, and we also expect close views of Spanish fighting bulls!

Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

Day 1: Madrid to La Serena
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly from London  to Madrid. We then travel parallel to the western part of the granite Sierra de Gredos mountains with its peculiar rock formations and lovely pine forest. Driving from Madrid to La Mancha and then through Extremadura, we should have several encounters with local specialities including European Bee-eater, Lesser Kestrel and Spotless Starling, plus a wide range of raptors, before our arrival at our base just north of La Serena. Three nights in the Orellana area. 

Day 2: La Serena Grassland
We explore La Serena, one of the most important areas in the world for steppic birds. It is here that we expect to see the impressive Great Bustard perform its incredible breeding display. The males almost turn themselves inside out and look like huge white balls of feathers. Many other exciting species occur here too, including numerous Little Bustard, Stone-curlew, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Collared Pratincole, Greater Short-toed Lark and Calandra Lark. We should also see Montagu's Harrier in good numbers, and watch its attractive display flight. The “sierras” around La Serena are excellent for rock loving birds, and we will walk to an old Moorish castle, now in ruins, where the views of the plains are stunning. The fabulous birds should include Golden Eagle, Bonelli´s Eagle, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Southern Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Alpine Swift, and Red-rumped Swallow. Roller breed here in good numbers and are easy to find as they love to perch openly on wires by the roads. Other birds should include Serin, Woodlark, Hoopoe and Corn Bunting. Overnight in Monfragüe area.

Day 3: Mérida and the Guadiana Valley
We vary the habitats today by following the Guadiana River west towards the ancient city of Mérida. Standing on the old Roman Bridge, views over the river and its islands will give us excellent opportunities for observing Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen, Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret and Common Kingfisher, while the banks and local parks are attractive to Common Waxbill, Eurasian Hoopoe and with luck, a late migrant or two such as European Pied Flycatcher. Another short walk might prove lucky with early arriving Western Olivaceous Warbler in the willows. A large reservoir nearby often pulls in migrant waders, plus it attracts freshly arrived Gull-billed Tern, while an adjacent rock outcrop gives us another chance for Black Wheater, Rock Bunting, Thekla's Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Bonelli's Eagle amongst others. Eurasian Griffon and Egyption Vultures passing over give us a hint of more to come. 

Day 4: Agristeepe, resevoirs and the Dehesa
We take our time to make the relatively short transfer towards Monfragüe. We pass through a series of steppic and dehesa habitats, plus visit a wetland or two on the way to maximise the number of species we may find.  We enjoy more possibilities of Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and European Roller on the plains, Black-necked Grebe, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole, Great Reed Warbler, waders and other interesting wildfowl on the pools and reservoirs and European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Western Orphean Warbler and Crested Lark, amongst others, in the fields and dehesa en route. Birds are everywhere, with raptors appearing just about anywhere, but one or two spots can simply be outstanding for the overall number and variety of birds present.  Four nights near Monfragüe.

Days 5 and 6: Monfragüe National Park
Monfragüe National Park is an area of truly dramatic scenery, and regarded by raptor watchers as one of the most outstanding sites to see birds of prey in Europe. We will explore the north side of the park where specialities such as Eurasian Black Vulture breed, together with Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, and eagles are well represented with Golden, Booted, Bonelli's, Short-toed and threatened Spanish Imperial – all five Spanish breeding eagles! Around the rocky pinnacle of Peñafalcon, which holds Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Crag Martin and Rock Bunting, we will look for breeding Black Stork in one of the easiest sites in Europe to watch these shy birds at the nest. Eurasian Eagle Owl can often be found at their day-time roost close to where a pair of Spanish Imperial Eagles nests. Western Subalpine Warbler, Hawfinch and Short-toed Treecreeper are just some of the birds of the woodlands. One evening after dinner we will explore a good area for Red-necked Nightjar. The magical ambience in the “dehesa” before dusk will suggest how close to Africa we are, as Eurasian Scops Owl and Red-necked Nightjar delight us with their song. 

Day 7: Monfragüe National Park
Close to Monfragüe National Park we find a well-vegetated reservoir well worth a visit, as we will find an interesting variety of birds and immediately around it, such as Great Spotted Cuckoo, Squacco and Purple Herons,  Little Bittern, Savi´s and Cetti's Warblers, several raptors including Eurasian Black Vulture and Black-winged Kite, plus Spanish Sparrow amongst others. Driving through the Mediterranean habitats en route we will find an interesting variety of warblers: Sardinian, Western Subalpine, Dartford, Spectacled, Western Orphean and Melodious Warbler. You should also see Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie and European Bee-eater. With time we'll drive back through Monfragüe just to enjoy the magnificent scenery again, stopping for any particularly noteworthy birds.

Day 8:  Departure
We return to Madrid, birding en route if we have time, for our flight home.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

  • return scheduled flight from London – Madrid, airport taxes, baggage and hand luggage up to airline included limit.
  • airport transfers, ground transportation, accommodation and meals as specified.
  • the services of Heatherlea leader/s.
  • The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more...

What's not included in your holiday price:

  • travel to and from departure airport before and after holiday, in-flight meal, baggage above airline included limit
  • incidental tips, expenses of a personal nature including drinks and personal insurance.

More holiday information:

Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel with all rooms en suite,
Food Breakfast is typical of Spain, consisting of a roll with jam/cheese/ham. Fruit juice and tea or coffee are also available. Evening meals are generally local dishes, which are good but often quite simple. Vegetarian and other diets are welcome.
Walking is generally light/moderate. There may be some uphill track and road walking, though generally an average level of fitness is required.
Weather Typically, temperatures will range from 10c in the early morning to perhaps 25c in the heat of the day. Sunshine should be plentiful, but cloud and rain are possible. Cold weather, with temperatures as low as 5c, are rare but possible.
Insects biting insects may be encountered, though not usually as a major problem. A good repellent is advised but probably not needed.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or or quote without flights so you can make your own arrangements. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.

Your Guides

John Muddeman

John has lived in the mountains near Madrid since 1997, and has led numerous birding tours throughout Spain and particularly in Extremadura throughout the seasons. A very experienced Leader with over 300 group tours worldwide to his name, John also has a keen interest in the field identification and conservation of reptiles and amphibians, dragonflies, butterflies and moths, mammals and flora. Author of "A birdwatching guide to Extremadura" in 2000, John is an honorary member of the regional guiding association, GUIDEX. We are delighted to welcome him to this tour!

Other birding and wildlife holidays in Spain

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).
Tour Details

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248