Great and Little bustards

Dates

At your convenience from 1st April to the end of May.

Tour Cost

1.100.-

Group size

Group of four people

Introduction

 

In 2008 the EMBERIZA FUND and BOLETAS BIRDWATCHING CENTRE initiated talks with the owners of two estates in the Cáceres province in Extremadura, where observations in previous years seemed to indicate the location of one of these display sites. The estates have a total 480 hectares of open, treeless plain, ideal as habitat for steppe birds, and are used as pastures for free-range cattle, with a few cultivated portions. They have three seasonal ponds, used for drinking by cattle and birds.

This study, together with information provided by the owners and previous observations, allowed us to establish that the two estates are indeed used by Great Bustard for their courtship and breeding regularly every year. The study also detected sizeable numbers of Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax), a smaller relative which carries its breeding activity in the estates later in the season, as well as other steppe species like Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Montagu's Harrier, Stone Curlew and Hoopoe.

In order to observe and photograph them from a reasonable distance it is mandatory to enter and leave the hides in total darkness; at this time of the year, this entails spending inside some 12+ uninterrupted hours. It's important to carry some food and water, plus an empty bottle for physiological needs.

With the aim of helping to preserve this prime steppe habitat, and in order to generate an additional income for its owners, we have set up a number of points within the estates to be used by photographers wishing to capture the Great Bustard's display behavior.

Although on a few occasions the birds may get very close to the hides, the great flat extensions they inhabit make advisable the use of long focal distances, perhaps supplemented with a shorter lens for panoramic views. The portion of the lens protruding from the hide must be camouflaged, either with a portion of "camo" net or a neoprene cover. Great Bustards are generally more active in the early morning and late afternoon, although males can surprise with a display almost any time, especially in overcast weather. In these estates, the different hides provide opportunities to photograph adult males, groups of younger males often quarreling with each other, and groups of females.

Other species that can often be photographed are Hoopoe, Calandra and Crested Lark, Common Kestrel and Corn Bunting. Some hides provide excellent chances of photographing groups of Little Bustard in  breeding plumage, although their courtship behavior starts later than that of the Great Bustard, well into the month of May.

Itinerary

Airport : Arrival & Departure Madrid.

Day 1 .- We will meet you on your arrival in Madrid Ariport. We will then drive to La Serena in Extremadura for your first contact with the sites. Depending on the weather we will decide which will be our first target. Overnight in the area.

Day 2,3,5 .- Early morning breakfast and before dawn everybody will be ready inside its hide. Great Bustard will be displaying so we hope they pass in front of your hide. One of the four hides will be set in the best Little Bustard area. Also you will have chances for Calandra Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Hoopoe and sandgrouse. Just a few minutes before dusk we will collect you from the hides and drive back to or base. Overnight in the area.

Day 4 .- After breakfast we will go to explore the area near Trujillo where Lesser Kestrel breed in the Bull Ring , also we will have chances of White Stork on the nest and several raptors including Black Vulture. Overnight in the area.

Day 6.- The journey from Zorita to Madrid will take four hours.

Gallery

Additional Information

Great Bustard & Little Bustard

Hide: There are four hides wooden built. They are spacious for one person. We will provide you with a chair , a container for your facilities as well as a bottle of water.

Clothing: Weather in late spring can be rainy, but it is rarely too cold.   Please check the weather forecast one or two days before the tour starts.

Equipment: The distance from the hide to the Great Bustards varies from between 20 and 100 metres and the recommended focal lengths are 500 to 800 mm . There are chances of seeing smaller birds in front of the hides.

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