Nature - Nature Photography In Extremadura

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Anyone visiting Extremadura to make photographs will not be disappointed, unless you make your visit during the hot summer months of June, July and August.

The majority of the tourists visiting Extremadura are birdwatchers and bird-photographers. It is indeed an amazing destination, with lots of birds, both Mediterranean species and large numbers of raptors. Bird photographers will find the best possibilities during spring, when most birds are very active. Also the winter months of January and February are an interesting period, because of the huge numbers of hibernating species from the northern parts of Europe. For example, up to 80.000 Common Cranes visit Extremadura between November and March, finding rest and food throughout the immense dehesas.

Extremadura is a large, stretched-out area, with many different landscapes, and thus attractive to different bird species. If you drive slowly through the small roads you will have great opportunities to photograph birds alongside. Although you do, of course, have to watch out for other traffic! Species like Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Woodchat Shrike and Common Stonechat can be easily photographed. Patience is all you need.

Corkoaks after peeling

Corkoaks After Peeling ©Gertjan de Zoete

The best place for photographing vultures is in the well-known National Park of Monfragüe, specifically around the ruins of the Castle and at Peña Falcon. Best option for birds in flight is to find a place around the castle, and to stay there as long as possible. During the day vultures will soar by, sometimes at your level and sometimes too close to photograph. You need a telephoto lens in the range of 400-600 mm. If you are lucky, some vultures will be on the rocks around Peña Falcon, down near to the River Tagus. From the parking place there you can also make photos of these impressive birds in flight.

Almost everywhere in Extremadura you will find White storks, nesting on old buildings, churches or even on trees. The Natural Monument of ?Barruecos?, close to Malpartida de Cáceres, houses a big colony of White Storks, nesting on large granite boulders.

Storks are present in Extremadura from early January up until June, then they go to the south of Spain, or even migrate to Africa.

Best place to photograph the Azure-winged Magpie, is on the campsite of Camping Monfragüe, near to Malpartida de Plasencia. The birds here are familiar with people. Sometimes, around the picnic spots in Monfragüe, some Azure-winged Magpies have grown so familiar with tourists that they pick food from the tables!

European Bee Eaters

European Bee Eaters ©Gertjan de Zoete

Rivers will always attract birds like storks (also Black stork) and several species of herons. Kingfishers are quite common along all the rivers. European Bee-eaters are everywhere from April up to July, but you need to make some preparation to photograph them in order not to disturb them. The exclusive colored European Roller, present from April up until July, can be found in the steppes around Cáceres, where they brood in nest boxes.

Getting really close to birds in Extremadura is, almost like everywhere in Western Europe, more difficult. You will need a hide for which you need an official license from the Junta of Extremadura. If you only plan a vacation in Extremadura this is of course not so easy to arrange.

Happily in Extremadura there are some places where you can rent a hide to photograph vultures feeding on carrion and thus avoid the need to obtain a license. Doing so is an unforgettable experience! In some places you can photograph Cranes from a fixed hide during winter months. It is also possible to photograph Great Bustards from a hide during their courtship in early April.

If you are interested in photographing flowers or butterflies, go to Extremadura during spring. The best months are March, April and May. You will see a myriad of wild flowers and quite a few species of orchids. If you like landscape photography, wintertime is the best with beautiful light and the skies are often full of impressive cloud formations.

White Storks Fighting

White Storks ©Gertjan de Zoete

This article was written by Gertjan de Zoete /