Monday, 26 March 2012


The latest issue of the birdwatching magazine Ardeola (vol. 58-2, December 2011) contains the Spanish Rarity Committee's findings for 2009. Only six of the 291 accepted records correspond to Extremadura (two of these dating from 2008). Most are based on photos so we can use these to illustrate said records.

Possible hybrids of Western Reef Heron x Little Egret (Egretta gularis x garzetta). Three different birds were seen in Extremadura. The identification of these birds is debatable since it's not certain whether they are in fact hybrids or melanistic Little Egrets. Up to 2009 there had been 53 records of 65 birds accepted by the rarity committee in Spain as assumed hybrids (plus 35 pure Reef Herons), five of them in Extremadura (plus two pure birds).

Brovales Reservoir, Jerez de los Caballeros (Badajoz), 10.01.08 (Emilio Costillo).

Arrocampo Reservoir, Saucedilla (Cáceres), 12 and 13.03.09 (Collin Jewitt; Steve Fletcher).

Charca de Los Gañanes, Guijo de Coria (Cáceres), 18.07.09 and the same bird again at Portaje Reservoir (Cáceres) on 07.08.09 and 12.09.09 (Sergio Mayordomo, César Clemente and Javier Mahíllo). This is possibly the same bird that was seen in 2008 in Coria and in Guijo de Coria (Ardeola, 57: 491).

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii). Two birds seen in Extremadura, to be added to three previously accepted records (1992, 2000 and 2004). The sum for the whole of Spain is now 43 records involving 58 birds.

San Vicente de Alcántara (Badajoz). In Sierra de San Pedro, an adult with typical plumage features of the western African population on 10.01.09 (José Gordillo).

Monfragüe, Portilla del Tiétar (Cáceres). An immature bird on 24.05.08 (Alfonso López and Ángela Molina).

Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius). Los Canchales Reservoir (Badajoz), 03.11.09 (José María Salazar Alonso and M. Rial). This is the only record accepted without photographs. It is the second accepted record for Extremadura; the first was in Mirandilla (Badajoz) from 19.02.04 to 04.03.04 (F. Prieto, J. Ledo and J. M. Benítez). Up to 2009 42 records had been accepted in Spain.

The records rejected by the Committee involved no Extremadura bird. Nonetheless, we do know of other rarities seen in 2009. On 28.02.09, Manuel Pérez González saw at Portaje Reservoir the same Marabou Stork (Leptotilos crumeniferus) seen in October and November 2008 in Plasencia and Acehúche (Cáceres), respectively (photo above taken in 2008 in Acehúche by Andrés Rodríguez). Also in 2009 a possible Western Reef hybrid was seen in Portugal near the Badajoz border on 12.05.09 and on 13.07.09, Caia Reservoir (the nearest colony is in Badajoz city), and a pure Western Reef Heron on 02.10.09 flying in the direction of the Badajoz heron roost (Luis Venancio). Last but not least, an assumed Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalus) was seen at Arroyo Guadalefra, Orellana la Vieja (Badajoz) on 14.05.09 by Stefaan Horemans (source: Rare Birds in Spain). If accepted this would be a first for Extremadura but it doesn't even seem to have been submitted.

CR-SEO (Comité de Rarezas de SEO). 2011. Observaciones de aves raras en España, 2008. Ardeola 58:441-480.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Possible Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus). Monfragüe, Cáceres, 29.09.2004 (by Javier Prieta). Some features and the date itself suggest this species though the field identification is not certain.

It just so happens that yesterday, 19 March 2012, the first Iberian Chiffchaff was recorded in Extremadura. Recently I was also approached about a future book on this species. So it now seems a good time to take stock of its Extremadura status ...

Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) was hived off of as a separate species from Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) in 1996. The first certain Extremadura record of the brand new species then came in Plasencia (Cáceres) in April 1997, most likely a passage bird (Javier Prieta). The first probable breeding of the species was recorded in Piornal, Valle del Jerte, Cáceres, where a pair held territory in a mixed Scots Pine / Sweet Chestnut copse in 2001 and 2002 (J. Prieta). Also in May 2001 another male was heard singing in Torremenga, La Vera, Cáceres (Jesús Calle). In 2002 a small breeding population was found in Sierra de Tentudía, Badajoz (Javier Salcedo), after which there were more one-off observations of males singing in May and June in Toril (J. Prieta), Puerto de Miravete (Godfried Schreur) and La Garganta (Ricardo Montero), all in the province of Cáceres. The known breeding population, therefore, is restricted to a small nucleus in the Sierra Morena of Badajoz (Monesterio, Calera de León and Cabeza la Vaca) and isolated cases of singing males in May and June on the Cáceres side of the Gredos mountain range and in Monfragüe, without apparently forming stable populations. The Badajoz breeders, part of a population that spreads further south into northern Huelva, occupy mainly mixed pine populations and riparian copses (J. Salcedo). In view of their scarcity, however, and the difficulty of identifying them in the field (except by voice), a more widespread breeding population in Extremadura can by no means be ruled out.

In general, there is little information on Iberian Chiffchaff in Extremadura. By now a total of 142 birds has been recorded (Prieta et al., 2000; Prieta 2002 and 2007; Prieta and Mayordomo, 2011; monthly summaries of this blog); the pattern of these observations is plotted in the above graph. Breeding birds are shown in red while those recorded outside the breeding areas, assumed to be migrants, are plotted in blue. These show a bimodal pattern, with spring passage in March and April, almost always males singing, and return passage in August-October, on the basis of field identification, calls and some residual song. Some years, however, calls attributed to Iberian Chiffchaff are head until mid November (Sergio Mayordomo). The breeding areas, basically Tentudía, are occupied from March to September, numbers peaking in April, probably due to topping up by migrants (as also occurs in northern Huelva; Rafael Romero, pers. comm.). The much higher spring peaks shown in the graph are probably at least partly due to the greater likelihood of song-based detection in spring than in autumn.

- Prieta, J. 2002. Aves de Extremadura, Vol. 2. 1999-2000. ADENEX. Mérida.
- Prieta, J. 2007. Aves de Extremadura, Vol. 3. 2001-2003. ADENEX. Mérida.
- Prieta, J., y Mayordomo, S. 2011. Aves de Extremadura, vol. 4. 2004-2008. SEO-Cáceres. Plasencia.
- Prieta, J.; Valiente, J. y Benítez, J. M. 2000. Aves de Extremadura, vol. 1, 1998. Adenex, Mérida.

Thursday, 15 March 2012


About one year ago, in spring 2011, we reported the sighting of a new species for Extremadura, if accepted: Great Snipe (Gallinago media) [see here]. This was a fleeting observation, still pending acceptance, of three birds in Madrigalejo (Cáceres). We can now report another longer and more trustworthy sighting by Francisco Montaño, Joaquín Vázquez Muñoz and José Antonio Delgado on 12 March 2012 in Los Canchales Reservoir (Badajoz).

The bird was seen well for nearly an hour-and-a-half at a distance of about 150 m and with excellent visibility. The observers were able to appreciate the subtle plumage differences that distinguish it from its commoner cousin, the Snipe (Gallinago gallinago): wide white outer tail feathers, long and wide wings with a clear wing stripe, darker hue and speckled belly. The bird remained still and in full view accompanied by Snipes, clearly showing its bulkier size and relatively shorter beak. It even spread its wings to show the darker underside.

As if that were not enough, 12 other waders were seen along with it, some pretty rare in Extremadura and inland Spain: Temminck's Stint (2), Little Stint (15), Dunlin (lots), Ruff (1), Black-Tailed Godwit (30), Bar-Tailed Godwit (2), Ringed Plover (9), Little Ringed Plover (4), Kentish Plover (1), Whimbrel (2) and Redshank (14).

To find out more about the Great Snipe and its migratory feats, click here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). One of the two birds present during March 2012
at Valdefuentes gravel pit, Galisteo. Photo: 18.02.2012, Sergio Mayordomo.

A list of the most notable February 2012 records sent to the GOCE birdwatching forum. Compiled by Sergio Mayordomo.

- White-Fronted Goose: three adults at Lugar Nuevo, Peraleda de la Mata (Cáceres), on 03/02 (Vicente Risco, Javier Briz and Carlos Andrés).
- Egyptian Goose: two birds at Brozas reservoir (Cáceres) on 29/02 (Carlos Villaverde).
- Shelduck: one pair at Laguna de Galisteo from 04/02 to 10/02 (Sergio Mayordomo, Ricardo Montero and Justiniano Julián). 35 birds at Sierra Brava reservoir (Cáceres) on 16/02 (Martin Kelsey).
- Mandarín Duck: one female at River Jerte, Plasencia (Cáceres), on 25/02 (R. Montero).
- Red Crested Pochard: two drakes and one female at Moheda Alta, Navalvillar de Pela (Badajoz), on 11/02 (S. Mayordomo, Eva Palacios and César Clemente).

- Pochard x Ferruginous Duck: one hybrid drake at Ahigal reservoir (Cáceres) on 06/02 (Alberto Pacheco) and 19/02 (S. Mayordomo and E. Palacios; photograph Eva Palacios).
- Tufted Duck: at Lugar Nuevo, Peraleda de la Mata (Cáceres): 25 birds on 03/02 (V. Risco, J. Briz and C. Andrés) and 13 on 25/02 (Javier Gayo). 10 birds at El Manantío-Atalaya, Cáceres (Cáceres), on 22/02 (S. Mayordomo).
- Ferruginous Duck: At El Manantío, Cáceres (Cáceres): one bird on 12/02 (Jesús Solana) and 22/02 (S. Mayordomo).
- Black-Necked Grebe: one bird at Sierra Brava reservoir (Cáceres) on 23/02 (M. Kelsey). One bird at Ahigal reservoir (Cáceres) on 24/02 (Juan Carlos Paniagua).
- Glossy Ibis: one bird at Montijo reservoir (Badajoz) on 12/02 (Pablo Herrador and José Luis Bautista). Eight birds at Moheda Alta, Navalvillar de Pela (Badajoz), on 16/02 (M. Kelsey). At Vegas Altas ricefields: four birds on 19/02 (Luis Lozano and Lorenzo Alcántara) and 20/02 (Alberto Gil) and three on 26/02 (Francisco Montaño). At Arrocampo reservoir (Cáceres): three birds on 20/02 (M. Kelsey) and one ringed lame bird on 26/02 (Jus Pérez) and 27/02 (R. Montero).
- Spoonbill: 25 birds at Los Canchales reservoir (Badajoz) on 26/02 (J. L. Bautista).
- Bittern: At Arrocampo (Cáceres): one bird on 16/02 (Leandro Rivas and Antolín Redondo), 24/02 (S. Mayordomo) and 25/02 (Steve Fletcher). At Valdefuentes Gravel pit, Galisteo (Cáceres): one bird on 18/02 (S. Mayordomo), 19/02 (Marian Coca, José Miguel Colorado and Ángel G. Mendoza), 25/02 (S. Mayordomo and J. C. Paniagua), 26/02 (V. Risco, Javier Mahíllo and J. Briz) and 28/02 (J. Mahíllo and C. Clemente); and two birds on 21/02 (Javier Prieta) and 29/02 (S.Mayordomo, J. Mahíllo, C. Clemente and C. Villaverde).
- Little Bittern: At Arrocampo reservoir (Cáceres): two birds on 16/02 (L. Rivas and A. Redondo) and one male on 20/02 and 26/02 (M. Kelsey). Habitual at River Guadiana, Badajoz, with seven birds on 20/02 (J. C. Paniagua). Three birds at the junction of rivers Gévora and Zapatón, Valdebotoa (Badajoz), on 26/02 (Schreur Family).
- Night Heron: one first-winter bird at Arrocampo reservoir (Cáceres) on 08/02 (S. Mayordomo and J. Prieta). One adult at River Guadiana, Badajoz, on 20/02 (J. C. Paniagua).
- Squacco Heron: At Arrocampo (Cáceres): four birds on 08/02 (S. Mayordomo and J. Prieta), two on 12/02 (Sammy Langlois and Dave Langlois), two on 20/02 (M. Kelsey), one on 24/02 (S. Mayordomo), two on 25/02 (J. Gayo), one on 26/02 (M. Kelsey) and two on 27/02 (R. Montero).
- Purple Heron: one bird at Arrocampo (Cáceres) on 05/02 (S. Langlois and D. Langlois).
- Grey Heron: one bird caught a snipe in the ricefields of El Batán (Cáceres) on 17/02 (S. Mayordomo).
- White Stork: 1500 birds at Mérida landfill site (Badajoz) on 26/02 (Ángel Sánchez).
- Osprey: At Arrocampo (Cáceres): one bird on 08/02 (S. Mayordomo and J. Prieta), 11/02 (Juan José Bote), 16/02 (L. Rivas and A. Redondo) and 27/02 (R. Montero).
- Booted Eagle: one bird at la Sierrilla, Cáceres, on 11/02 (Javier Caballero). One bird at la Tajadilla, Monfragüe (Cáceres), on 25/02 (José Carlos López).
- Goshawk: One bird at Cambroncino (Cáceres) on 01/02 (A. Pacheco).

- Spotted Crake: two birds heard at Valdefuentes Gravel pit, Galisteo (Cáceres), on 18/02 and one bird seen at Arrocampo (Cáceres) on 24/02 (S. Mayordomo, photograph).
- Avocet: Present at Laguna de Galisteo (Cáceres) from 04/02 to 26/02 peaking at 3 birds (V. Risco, S. Mayordomo, J. Julián, J. C. Paniagua, J. Prieta, J. Mahíllo, J. Briz, E. Palacios, C. Clemente and A. Pacheco). At Santa Amalia ricefields (Badajoz): two birds from 12/02 (F. Yuste) to 14/02 (F. Montaño), and three birds on 13/02 (E. del Viejo). Three at Moheda Alta, Navalvillar de Pela (Badajoz), on 23/02 (M. Kelsey).
- Grey Plover: one bird at Portaje reservoir (Cáceres) on 17/02 (S. Mayordomo).
- Golden Plover: A flock of over 1000 at Miajadas ricefields (Cáceres) on 02/02 (S. Fletcher)
- Kentish Plover: 23 birds at Miajadas ricefields (Cáceres) on 02/02 (S. Fletcher). Present at Santa Amalia (Badajoz) from 11/02 to 26/02 with at least 25 birds on 26/02 (S. Mayordomo, L. Lozano, L. Alcántara, J. P. Prieto, F. Montaño, E. Palacios and C. Clemente).
- Curlew: six birds at Miajadas ricefields (Cáceres) on 02/02 (S. Fletcher). Present at Santa Amalia ricefields from 05/02 to 29/02 with a maximum of seven on 26/02 (S. Mayordomo, L. Lozano, L. Alcántara, J. P. Prieto, F. Montaño, E. Palacios E. del Viejo and C. Clemente). At Navalvillar de Pela: one bird on 09/02 (Ángel Luis Sánchez) and 4 on 16/02 (M. Kelsey). Present at Galisteo from 15/02 to 19/02 with a maximum of seven birds on 15/02 (S. Mayordomo, J. Prieta and E. Palacios).
- Woodcock: three birds at Palomero (Cáceres) on 06/02 (A. Pacheco). One bird at Santa Cruz de Paniagua (Cáceres) on 26/02 (J. C. Paniagua).
- Spotted Redshank: four birds at Miajadas ricefields (Cáceres) on 02/02 (S. Fletcher). One bird at Lugar Nuevo, Peraleda de la Mata (Cáceres), on 03/02 (V. Risco, J. Briz and C. Andrés). One bird at Galisteo ricefields (Cáceres) on 17/02 (S. Mayordomo). One bird at Montijo reservoir (Badajoz) on 21/02 (Francis Prieto, Á. Sánchez and Agapito). One bird at Moheda Alta, Navalvillar de Pela (Badajoz), on 23/02 (M. Kelsey).
- Wood Sandpiper: At Santa Amalia ricefields (Badajoz): four birds on 19/02 (L. Lozano and L. Alcántara) and one on 26/02 (F. Montaño). One bird at Hernán Cortés, Don Benito (Badajoz), on 20/02 (J. P. Prieto).
- Sanderling: ten birds on Miajadas ricefields (Cáceres) on 02/02 (S. Fletcher). One bird at Santa Amalia ricefields (Badajoz) on 26/02 (F. Montaño).
- Turnstone: one bird at Santa Amalia ricefields (Badajoz) on 11/02 (S. Mayordomo, E. Palacios and C. Clemente), 13/02 (E. del Viejo) and 14/02 (F. Montaño).
- Curlew Sandpiper: At Santa Amalia ricefields: two birds on 11/02 (S. Mayordomo, E. Palacios and C. Clemente), present on 13/02 (E. del Viejo) and four on 14/02 (F. Montaño).
- Temminck's Stint: three birds at Montijo reservoir (Badajoz) on 21/02 (F. Prieto, Á. Sánchez and Agapito). At Esparragalejo pond (Badajoz): one bird on 21/02 (F. Prieto, Á. Sánchez and Agapito) and two on 22/02 (S. Mayordomo) and 26/02 (F. Montaño).
- Lesser Black-Backed Gull: 2000 birds at Mérida landfill site(Badajoz) on 26/02 (Á. Sánchez).
- Stock Dove: flock of 170 birds at Riolobos (Cáceres) on 10/02 (S. Mayordomo).

- Short-Eared Owl: over 20 birds at Hernán Cortés, Don Benito (Badajoz) during the whole month (S. Fletcher -photograph-, S. Mayordomo, L. Lozano, L. Alcántara, F. Yuste, E. Palacios, E. del Viejo and Á. Sánchez). One bird at Galisteo (Cáceres) on 18/02 (J. Mahíllo and C. Clemente).
- Pallid Swift: eight birds still at Alange (Badajoz) on 01/02 (J. Solana).
- Wryneck: One bird at River Jerte, Plasencia (Cáceres), on 23/02 (R. Montero). One bird at Santa Cruz de Paniagua (Cáceres) on 26/02 (J. C. Paniagua).
- Wheatear: one bird at Montehermoso (Cáceres) on 15/02 (A. Pacheco).
- Carrion Crow: 30 birds eating carrion at Riomalo de Abajo (Cáceres) on 07/02 (A. Pacheco). One bird at Borbollón reservoir (Cáceres) on 17/02 (Goyo Naharro and C. Clemente).
- Bearded Tit: At Arrocampo (Cáceres): two birds, one of them male, on 24/02 (S. Mayordomo), two males on 25/02 (J. Gayo) and one male on 26/02 (María Llorente and Álvaro Díaz).
- Red-Rumped Swallow: One wintering bird, looking a little ragged, still at Trujillo (Cáceres) on 18/02 (M. Kelsey and G. Schreur).
- Goldcrest: two birds at Piornal (Cáceres) on 24/02 (J. Prieta).
- Alpine Accentor: ten birds at Pico Villuercas (Cáceres) on 12/02 (S. Mayordomo and E. Palacios).
- White Wagtail: Subespecies M. a. yarrellii. Three birds at Hernán Cortés (Badajoz) on 03/02 (Á. Sánchez). One bird at La Codosera (Badajoz) on 05/02 (G. Schreur). One bird at Los Canchales reservoir (Badajoz) on 22/02 (S. Mayordomo). At least six at a roost on Valdefuentes gravel pit, Galisteo (Cáceres) on 29/02 (S. Mayordomo, J. Mahíllo, C. Clemente and C. Villaverde).
- Brambling: two birds at la Sierra de Tentudía (Badajoz) on 04/02 (Javier Salcedo and A. Pacheco).

- Black Stork: on 03/02 one bird seen at Alcuéscar (Cáceres) (José Luis Rivero) and another at Salto del Gitano, Monfragüe (Cáceres) (R. Montero). On 5/02 three birds at River Bodión, Valverde de Burguillos (Badajoz) (Antonio Núñez), and two at River Cáparra, Guijo de Granadilla (Cáceres) (J. Julián and Iván Solana). At Montijo reservoir (Badajoz), on 12/02, one immature bird ringed in the Czech Republic (P. Herrador and J. L. Bautista).
- Short-Toed Eagle: one bird at Mérida (Badajoz) on 02/02 (Francisco Lopo), at Los Santos de Maimona (Badajoz) on 25/02 (Elvira del Viejo) and at Alburquerque (Badajoz) on 26/02 (Schreur family).
- Black Kite: one bird at Valdesalor, Cáceres, on 22/02 (Manolo Iglesias), at Monfragüe (Cáceres) on 24/02 (M. Kelsey) and at Galisteo (Cáceres) on 25/02 (S. Mayordomo and J. C. Paniagua).
- Egyptian Vulture: two adults at Torrejoncillo (Cáceres) on 06/02 (A. Pacheco). One adult at Santa Amalia (Badajoz) on 11/02 (S. Mayordomo, F. Yuste, E. Palacios and C. Clemente). One adult at Salto del Gitano, Monfragüe (Cáceres), on 13/02 (Chema Diu).
- Montagu's Harrier: one pair at Brozas (Cáceres) on 16/02 (Helios Dalmau) and one bird at Torremejía (Badajoz) on 17/02 (Juan Pablo Prieto and Fergus Crystal).
- Lesser Kestrel: at Trujillo (Cáceres): two birds on 17/02 (Godfried Schreur) and five on 18/02 (M. Kelsey and Ángel Sánchez). One 2nd-year male at Guijo de Coria (Cáceres) on 18/02 (S. Mayordomo). One pair at Badajoz on 20/02 (J. C. Paniagua) and at Plasencia (Cáceres) on 22/02 (J. Prieta).
- Sand Martin: One bird at Malpartida de Plasencia (Cáceres), on 21/02 (S. Mayordomo and J. Prieta); at Casatejada (Cáceres) on 24/02 (S. Mayordomo); and at Arrocampo (Cáceres) on 26/02 (M. Llorente and Á. Díaz), with several in the same place on 27/02 (R. Montero).
- Sedge Warbler: one bird at Arrocampo (Cáceres) on 29/02 (G. Schreur).

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). Brava, adult female fitted with a satellite transmitter
and released at Los Canchales Reservoir, Badajoz. By Ángel Sánchez.

An ambitious SEO/BirdLife bird migration project kicked off in 2011, its remit including satellite tracking. One of the star species is Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). The movements of six tracked birds can now be followed live on internet (click here). Two of these birds, forming part of a project being run by Junta de Extremadura, were the first to begin their autumn migration and reach their African destinations in 2011. The return spring migration is now underway, so it's the perfect time to report the movements to date of both Extremadura eagles.

Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). Luna, female, on the left, and Valiente, a male, are the two Extremadura-nesting satellite-tracked birds (photos: SEO/BirdLife).

Luna is an adult female Booted Eagle nesting in Alburquerque (Badajoz). On 03.08.2011 it was fitted with a satellite transmitter to keep track of its movements thereafter. On the project website it wears the number 5. After the transmitter was fitted, it remained in its territory until setting out on its migration odyssey on 07.09.2011. On 10 September it crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and two days later reached the dreaded Sahara. There it picked up pace, putting in its two longest daily stages: 370 on 12 September and 403 km on 17 September. At last, on 19.09.2011, after a 12-day trip it reached its wintering quarters in the Sahel, over 2500 km from its nest (an average of 204 km a day). Since then, and at least until 01.03.2012, it pretty much stayed put, spending over five months in an area straddling Mauritania and Mali.

Autumn migration of six satellite-tracked Spanish Booted Eagles (Hieraaetus pennatus) in 2012 (

Valiente, wearing number 6, is an adult male Booted Eagle nesting in La Roca de la Sierra (Badajoz). It was also fitted with its transmitter on 03.08.2011 and then set out on its long journey to Africa a little later than Luna, on 13.09.2011. Like Luna it reached the Straits in three days but then needed 15 to reach the Sahel on 02.10.2011. Its pace was a bit slower (18 days, averaging 151 km a day), putting in its longest stage of 301 km on 23.09.2011. At first it settled down in Mali, 2700 km from home, but then moved southwards, first to Niger (15 October) and then to Nigeria (16 November), 3500 km from home, where it remained on 01.03.2012. Of the six Booted Eagles tracked, only one other bird wintered in two different spots, in this case reaching Sierra Leona, 3530 km from its nest. Both made the longest trips, while the other four have spent five months in the same zones.

Lastly, the third Eagle tracked, not featuring on the project website, was an adult female called Brava, from the Los Hornos Wildlife Refuge Centre (Sierra de Fuentes, Cáceres). The bird was released at Los Canchales Reservoir on 24.09.2011. It instantly flew southwards. Once at the straits it struck off over the sea but seems to have foundered somehow about 30 km northeast of Ceuta, transmitter signals ceasing on 06.10.2011.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus). One of the birds, a subadult, overwintering in Cáceres. December 2008. By Miguel Ángel Muńoz "Memole".

The Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is a summer visitor to mainland Spain, though there are resident populations in the Canary and Balearic archipelagos. In Doñana, however, a small overwintering population of 20-30 birds built up in the late twentieth century, than falling away to only four birds in 2009 and 2010 (EBD/CSIC). Although there have been one-off records of wintering Egyptian Vultures in Extremadura since 1990, it is only recently that a small wintering population has been found in the centre-west of Cáceres Province.

Complete overwintering was not confirmed until 2008/2009. Further research then unearthed regular wintering records in the zone since at least 2001 and maybe even as far back as the eighties of last century. The birds show plumage of all ages, ranging from juvenile to adult, though no proportion has been established between them.

The enclosed graph shows the peak figures of wintering Egyptian Vulture sightings since 2006, ranging from 7 to 24. Apparently, the wintering of Egyptian Vultures in this area is linked to the farming practice of dumping livestock offal. At the end of 2011, the environmental section of Spain's Guardia Civil, Seprona, banned this practice. Since then the offal has been dumped in containers, with serious knock-on effects for the Egyptian Vultures, their numbers falling sharply thereafter. Since 2006, wintering Egyptian Vultures have been seen at least in the following municipalities of the centre-west of Cáceres: Brozas, Alcántara, Acehúche, Portezuelo, Torrejoncillo, Portaje, Pescueza, Cachorrilla, Coria, Calzadilla, Casas de Millán, Mirabel and Serradilla. There were also three more sightings in the Llanos de Cáceres-Trujillo (Aldea del Cano, Belén-Trujillo and Monroy) and one in the north of Badajoz Province(La Roca de la Sierra).

The graph was drawn up from the valuable information furnished by Andrés Rodríguez, Miguel Ángel Muńoz, Iván Solana and Antonio Justiniano Julián.

- Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD/CSIC). Informes de seguimiento de procesos naturales en el Espacio Natural de Doñana [download reports].
- Noticiarios Ardeola. No 56:157-158, 57:224-225 y 58:202.
- Prieta, J., y Mayordomo, S. 2011. Aves de Extremadura, vol. 4. 2004-2008. SEO-Cáceres. Plasencia.