Its worth a visit

Monday 13th of September day trip to Sierra De Hornachos (Badajoz division).

02/10/2011 17:58

We chose to visitHornachos after reading the write up in Where to watch birds in South and Western Spain.The reserve sounded very impressive in the write up particulary for raptors.We had narrowly missed Egyption Vulture at Virgen De La sierra by about 20 minutes so we thought we had a good chance to catch up with this species and also Black Vulture which our guide book tells us that the species resides on the reserve all year round reserve .

At the end of the day I have got to say that this was just about the most disapointing birding excursion I have ever undertaken.

For starters even though we arrived mid morning the rather imoressive visitors centre was closed and so we could get no up to date information of what was on the site or were the best places to view birds was.As it happens we followed the first track which left the main road and brought us to a very impressive valley which we could ascend on foot and get a very good panaromic view of a large part of the reserve.

Griffon Vultures were just beggining to rise on the emerging thermals and in the first hour we counted 55 birds passing overhead in quick succession raising our hopes considerably.

However after around half an hour we suddenly became aware of someone keeping tabs on our movements on a nearby hill this person becoming more and more agitated as he watched us through binoculars.

Our worst fears were confirmed after we made a return to our car to pick up some more equipment and were immediately confronted by a hunter or similar who straight away asked us to leave the area(or vamoos as he constantly repeated)and threatened to call the local police if we didnt agree to his request.What made it even more frustrating was when he told us that the only way we could find out were we could go legaly was to visit the visitors centre and get the correct information.

So after this confrontation we decided to play safe and circumvent the reserve by road.I cannot recall seeing a simple raptor(apart from single distant view of Griffin Vulture and Booted Eagle) after our change of plan even though we covered just about every part of the reserve.

There was around 25 Azure Winged Magpies in the picnic area with 2 Turtle Doves and the area around the dam gave us 2 European Nutatch,8 Long Tailed Tits,4 Great Tits,3 Coal Tits,and very litte else.

We left the reserve with great disapointment but I would like to visit this site at a different time of the year before writing it off alltogether.