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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Extremedura

The final part of our stay in Spain was in the Province of Extremedura, which is located in the Southern part of the Central Plateau, roughly to the south of the Gredos Mountains and south-west of Madrid. The astonishing habitat of Extremedura is horizon-to-horizon coverage of forests of cork oak and holm oak trees.

Seemingly endless forests of cork oaks and holm oaks in the
Monfragϋe National Park exemplify Extremedura

The forests have important commercial and ecological value. The bark of the cork oaks is harvested rotationally to supply corks for wine bottles, whilst the acorns provide food for free-range pigs. In summer, the forests comprise a wonderful habitat for birds, mammals, invertebrates and plants of many kinds. In winter the forests play host to some 75,000 European Cranes that fly south from Arctic regions to feed on the fallen acorns (sharing the bounty with the pigs).

Free-range pigs forage for fallen acorns in the oak forest. The tree in the left foreground has had its cork bark stripped; this will regenerate for re-harvesting in a ten-year cycle.

Towards the south of Extremedura, the country becomes more arid until the steppe country of the Cacares Plain is reached. Here there is a range of wildlife adapted to such an environment.

Transition between the forests of Extremedura and the steppes of the Cacares Plain

The arid habitat of the Extremedura steppes and Cacares Plain...


...Home of the Great Bustard...

...and Short-toed Lark (can you see its short toes?)

The Extrremedura village of Serrejón where we stayed at poppy-time



On our final morning we had this splended view of what was, for me, the "bird of the trip" - a magnificent Spanish Imperial eagle!

With thanks to my fellow group members from Cumbria and especially to our tour guide Josele Saiz of Boletas Birdwatching Centre, Spain, for an absolutely superb week!

18 Comments:

Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Beautiful pics. There's something incredible about arid landscapes. I love those poppy shots. reminds me of the Wizard of Oz

5:57 pm  
Blogger Maria said...

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

7:54 pm  
Blogger Pearl Maple said...

Great nature photography, thanks for sharing with us all.

7:55 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Yes, yes, I can see his short toes. Not so keen on that little bastard though.
What do the pigs eat when they've finished the acorns?

7:57 pm  
Blogger Arija said...

What a great trip with so many interesting thins to appreciate. I love the pigs scampering/stampeding through the oak wood. What will happen to the forest when all the wine bottle orks are replaced by screw tops? I have heard that the forest would be endangered from other more lucrative forms of land use.
Great bird sightings!

8:14 pm  
Blogger Rob Ripma said...

Wow, amazing shots! I will have to visit there someday!

8:29 pm  
Blogger Guy D said...

Wow great selection of shots Jim, thanks for sharing.

Have a great weekend.
Guy
Regina In Pictures

9:15 pm  
Blogger ascu75 aka Don said...

LovE the shots and the cork tree stripped looked odd nice set of piccies XXX Don

9:42 pm  
Blogger simon said...

what can I say:- it evokes fond memories of 2007- the smell of the grasses, the cork trees ( and olive trees)

I find this post extraordinary in terms of those feelings as i write.

I guess in that trip (at the time) i did not fully appreciate Spains beauty. Preferring to get caught up with the fact that there were australian gums trees and the weather reminded me of home,
but on reflection and research, I found an immense wealth of wildlife

the best part? being there with great friends.

11:49 pm  
Blogger The Write Girl said...

I love your sky shots of nature. And the field of poppy is beautiful.

2:04 am  
Blogger Karen said...

Beautiful photos..

Very medieval ... you almost expect to see a band of Knights riding in to the picture..

Love the field of poppies..

4:28 am  
Blogger Sunshine said...

Very nice photograhs taken... looks beautiful. My fav one is the flower pic.. really like it

9:06 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Beautiful and interesting (as usual), Maalie.

I've always had a unique fascination with Spain. Though each place and culture is unique and fascinating, to be sure.

I appreciate your work in helping preserve the enviroment and the ecological balance in it.

I'm still fighting this cold, and need to lay low this weekend. Hope you're doing well.

4:24 pm  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

wow I have never seen so much bacon running in the woods.

It is sunny here today in Devon...yipeee!

2:39 pm  
Blogger Halfmom said...

The pictures are lovely Maalie! I especially like the one of the poppies!

4:04 am  
Blogger T and S said...

The sheer variety of flora and fauna amazes me. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive and informative post.

4:36 pm  
Blogger donsands said...

The Apsotle Paul mentioned he always wanted to go to Spain. But he never made it, but Nero had him beheaded.

What a lovely country.

I once when staying on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, in a quaint town, Chestertown, I young Bald eagle flew quite low over me, and landed in a tree not far from me. I managed to get it's picture. What a splendid bird he was.

Eagles are breath taking up close in the wild.

7:40 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Maalie,
You've been back from Spain for some time now, I imagine.

Here's some pics and thoughts from a friend of mine, and Susan's. And she is an author, an amazingly good one, by the way.

But nice pics and thoughts from her on her family's time in Spain.

11:38 am  

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