This spring birdwatching break provides an opportunity to photograph a wide diversity of species during the breeding season, with a chance to perfect your skills from dedicated hides, with tuition from professional wildlife photographer Ashley Grove.
The first tract of land in Extremadura to be declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Monfragüe National Park is an ideal location to see a variety of raptors, especially black and griffon vultures.
Our base is the delightful Finca La Parrilla, a restored former farmhouse located on a 1,250-hectare private estate, surrounded by the national park's extraordinary natural beauty. The lodge has a variety of photographic hides, which include tree hides, a perfectly camouflaged rock hide, a floating hide, and mirror hides where birds come to drink or bathe – all of which offer fantastic photography opportunities.
Expert photographer Ashley will be on hand throughout the tour to provide tuition and advice on capturing the best shots.
Day1: Fly to Madrid & transfer to Finca La Parrilla
Fly from London to Madrid, from where it is around three hours' drive to our lodge, with time for a short break on the way. After checking in we have some time to relax and freshen up before heading out into the surroundings to search for raptors feeding at sunset.
Days2-4: Photography activities in specialist hides & in Monfragüe National Park
Over the next three days, we visit various specialist hides to photograph a variety of birds. The tree hide is ideal for photographing passerines, with great reflection shots. We also visit two mirror hides to see rufous bush-chat and orphean warbler, and there are also hides to observe rock thrush and swallows.
The hides are usually set up for three people, so the group will separate into two smaller groups, one with Ashley and the other with the local guide from La Parrilla, so by swapping around you will benefit from both Ashley’s photographic expertise and the guide’s local knowledge. The real highlight, however, is the vulture hide; this area is renowned for having one of Europe’s largest colonies of black vultures, so there will be plenty of opportunity to photograph these scavengers.
We also visit Doña Catalina, a great location for little and great bustard, and the Salto del Gitano, which is renowned for sightings of black stork and blue rock thrush. On some evenings we will focus on nocturnal species, learning different techniques with flash.
Day5: Fly back to the UK
This morning, depending on the time of our flight, we should have time for one final photography session, then - after an early lunch - drive back to Madrid in time for our flight home.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 5 daysfrom £1,595 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 5 daysfrom £1,345 pp
Single supplement: From £110
Group size: 6
Included in the price/package:
Access to photography hides
Services of naturalist & wildlife photographer
Ashley developed an interest in nature - and birds in particular - while growing up in the Warwickshire countryside, before setting up as a wildlife photographer in 2005.
He now lectures widely and leads regular photographic and birding tours to The Gambia - his favourite destination – as well as the Shetland Islands, Isle of Scilly, Trinidad & Tobago, the Spanish Pyrenees and elsewhere.
He is particularly keen on birds of prey and hummingbirds, and regularly delivers workshops and seminars throughout the UK. Officially recommended by the RSPB and Royal Horticultural Society, he give talks to groups from Scotland to Kent and from Wales across to Suffolk. Ashley’s friendly manner and enthusiasm will no doubt be infectious and help you to learn new skills on your birding photography journey.
Monfragüe, Extremadura’s only national park, lies at the heart of the province of Cáceres, close to the confluence of the rivers Tajo and Tiétar, which carve out deep gorges as they run through a series of low mountain ranges. The resulting rocky cliffs offer an ideal location for birds to breed.
Ideal for viewing: peregrine falcon, Spanish imperial eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, river otter, Eurasian black vulture
This restored former farmhouse offers comfort in a secluded location, surrounded by the extraordinary nature of Monfrague National Park. Accommodation consists of four en suite rooms, and there is a lovely patio from where you can see the cliffs used by various raptors to nest, and fine views over the Rio Tajo.