Birdwatching in Badajoz

Badajoz dam is one of the few urban areas considered as a SPA zone. If you want to spend a day of birdwatching in Badajoz, in the following post you will find some of the keys to make the most of it.

Main species, birdwatching in Badajoz

Birdwatching in Badajoz
Sunset in Badajoz dam

The Guadiana River as it passes through Badajoz has a series of special characteristics that make it an excellent area for birdlife. Along the riverbed there are several islands, which are used as roosts by thousands of birds. Birds that need more tranquility to roost use the islands farther away from the urban center. However, there are many that seem to be barely affected by light pollution and can roost perfectly well, practically in the “center of the city”.

In addition to these islands, the presence of common water hyacinth and Mexican water lily could even be considered positive for some bird species. Despite being invasive plant species and generally negative for the river ecosystem, they offer many bird species a surface on which to rest or feed. The banks are fairly well preserved, despite being in an urban area. There is a good density of riparian vegetation where birds also find refuge and a resting area.

Large waterfowl

Plegadis falcinellus
Glossy Ibis

We found a very interesting representation of practically all groups of birds associated with the aquatic environment. In ducks the mallard is the most abundant species, but we can also find grebes and other species of ducks. As for ardeids we have interesting populations of egrets, cattle egrets, night herons, grey herons…. Rare species such as the purple heron, great egret, squacco heron, or bittern can even be sighted with some frequency.

Birdwatching in Badajoz
Purple swamp-hen

It is worth mentioning a very important population of Glossy ibis, birds that have conquered practically the entire Guadiana basin in recent years. To be located on any of the bridges at sunset, to see the flocks of Glossy ibis passing towards the roost, is one of the most interesting moments to do birdwatching in Badajoz. Spoonbills, although not as abundant, are also very interesting. The cormorant is also very abundant, both in the area of Badajoz and throughout the community. Raptors associated with the aquatic environment such as the marsh harrier or the osprey can be seen sporadically along this stretch of the Guadiana, although they tend to prefer quieter areas.

There are also good populations of gulls, both common and black-headed along this stretch of the river and a few hundred coots. Finally, as for “large” birds, we could highlight the Purple swamp-hen, a bird that not so long ago was in serious danger and that with its striking colors contributes to the beauty of the area.

Small waterfowl

Gallinula chloropus
Common moorhen

Here we will also include not only the waterfowl themselves, but also all the birds related to fluvial environment. The common moorhen is one of the most abundant species in the area, and can be found practically all along the river. The little bittern is also quite abundant, as well as the small kingfisher.

Birdwatching in Badajoz
Zitting cisticola

The population of passerines is also very rich and varied: from the Zitting zisticola to other larger birds such as warblers and wagtails. It is worth mentioning populations of exotic birds that are not native to the peninsula such as waxbill, red avadavat, weaver, common bishops, zebra finch… Regarding the group of waders we can find several species of plovers, sandpipers or stints.

Other interesting wildlife

Although birds are the main attraction of this area, it is also worth mentioning the presence of other groups of fauna. The otter is one of the most remarkable mammals that we can observe while birdwatching in Badajoz. In the grasslands of the floodplains we can occasionally observe hares, rabbits or even foxes at dusk or dawn.

Emys orbicularis
European pond turtles warming themselves in the sun

As for reptiles, there are several species of snakes, among which the necklace snake and viperine snake stand out. There are rocky areas near the river, where we can observe several species of lizards. On the bridges there are many geckos (I forgot to mention that they are also breeding grounds for the Alpine swift) and of course we can find pond turtles, mainly European. As exotic species we can also observe Florida tortoises, coming from not very responsible releases of people who got “tired” of having them at home.

Tips, birdwatching in Badajoz

Being an urban area, the birds are quite accustomed to human presence so we can do most of our birding on foot. Of course, as soon as we leave the usual paths, the birds will notice us and will move away from our positions. I recommend you not to leave the paths too much so as not to cause them too much disturbance.

Anas platyrhynchos
Mallard male

Another option that can be interesting is to hide among the vegetation on the shore. We can take a seat, plant our spotting scope, and remain stationary in the shallows. This other option can be a bit more tedious because we will have to wait for the birds to enter our area, but it can allow us to observe them more closely and without disturbing them.

I hope you find these tips useful and always remember to disturb the birds as little as possible so that they can continue with their normal activity.

Birds of Arribes del Duero

Sunset in Salto de Saucelle

Although they are not in Extremadura, Arribes del Duero are my home land and it is a place close and attractive enough to write at least a small article. I am going to talk about the birds of Arribes del Duero. I hope to make you want to visit this land as beautiful as unknown.

Why Arribes del Duero?

Arribes del Duero is one of the most unpopulated areas of Spain and therefore one of the least modified by human. While it is true that the abandonment of the rural world (even more pronounced in such harsh and remote terrain as this) sometimes has a negative impact on biodiversity, there are always species that benefit.

Rios Huebra y Camaces
Arribes del Huebra and Camaces

This big area was declared  Natural Park in 2002 and also has other conservation figures such as IBA, SAC and Biosphere Reserve. It is more than 120 km long and includes land in the provinces of Salamanca and Zamora, as well as the west bank of the Duero River in Portugal. If you are passionate about wildlife, nature and being able to spend full days without any trace of human beings, it is one of the best places to visit in the Iberian Peninsula.

Birds of Arribes del Duero

Rapaces de las Arribes
Some of the birds we can found here

But let’s get to the point, this is a wildlife website, mainly about birds, so I am going to mention the most interesting species. Birds of prey are probably the most valuable group, among which we can highlight the peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture, golden and Bonelli’s eagle, eagle owl and an important population of griffon vulture. also we can find mountain birds among which I would highlight the red-billed chough, Alpine swift, blue rock thrush, black-eared wheatear…. And the black stork, of course, which is one of the jewels in the crown of the park.

Raptors, birds of Arribes del Duero

Aquila fasciata, aves de las Arribes del Duero
Bonelli’s eagle

The great eagles usually nest in the great cliffs present in the Park, although their roosting area extends for dozens of kilometers. The golden owl and the peregrine falcon have similar tastes… On the other hand, the increasingly abundant booted and short-toed eagles can be seen more and more frequently in the flatter and clearer terrain. Finally, despite its scarcity, I would like to highlight the presence of the goshawk, which benefits from the fact that there are more and more areas of forest due to the abandonment of crops.

Arribes del Duero
Typical landscape of Arribes

The landscape is changing a lot in this area; only a few tens of years ago, a large percentage of the park’s surface was cultivated. Cultivation on terraces was essential and the use of donkeys and oxen to access the most inaccessible areas was also essential. Today, depopulation and the introduction of more “profitable” agricultural models in the flatter lands means that most of the crops are being abandoned. Although native vegetation is recolonizing these areas, it will be many years before there will be oak forests again where once there were almond or olive trees… In the short term, this translates into a significant loss of biodiversity. Many species had become accustomed to this mosaic ecosystem in which the “virgin” areas and the different crops coexisted in a certain harmony.

Another birds of Arribes del Duero

Ciconia nigra, aves de las Arribes del Duero
Black stork, one of the most beautiful birds

However, this abandonment of the rural environment benefits other species such as the elusive black stork, which is not at all comfortable with human presence. The inaccessibility of the terrain means that all those birds associated with river ecosystems have here miles and miles of riverbanks where they can live undisturbed. Droughts and lack of rainfall are the main problems here.

Arribes del Duero
Watching an Egyptian vulture

Rupicolous birds also have a real paradise here. There is an enormous amount of kilometers in which both the Duero and its tributaries are very boxed in, generating an ecosystem similar to that of the mountain ranges. Of course there are big differences in temperature between the Arribes del Duero and the mountain ranges of the central system, in the south of the province, but there are some species that are perfectly adapted to both environments.

Another fauna in Arribes del Duero


Capreolus capreolus
The roe deer is becoming more abundant in Arribes del Duero

Birds are by no means the only faunal resource of interest in the park. Interesting communities of other animals stand out, among which I will start with the mammals. The roe deer and wild boar are in clear expansion, the abandonment of the fields benefits them. Predators such as the genet, the beech marten, the european wildcat, the otter find here a true paradise. Others, such as the egyptian mongoose or the wolf, have recently “arrived” to stay, expanding the carnivores portfolio of the park.

It is important to mention here the practical disappearance of the european rabbit in most of the Arribes. Key piece in the diet of the most emblematic predatory species, its decline does not affect so much the populations of more generalist predators such as the fox, the genet or the beech marten, which today are relatively abundant.

Amphibians and reptiles

Lacerta schreiberi
Black – green lizard

Within the reptile group, there is a great diversity. Among them we could highlight the black-green lizard, the red-tailed lizard, the Iberian skink or the horseshoe snake as the most interesting species. The amphibian community is not far behind either, highlighting interesting populations of marbled and Iberian newts and very good populations of common frog, running frog and the iberian painted frog.


Chondrostoma arcasii
Bermejuela, Javi Guerra Hernando

Finally, the fish fauna is also important. Although the heart of the park is formed by reservoirs built several decades ago, there are many small rivers. These rivers do not have a large flow and many stop flowing in summer. However, they form large pools that never dry up and are home to many native species. The northern straight-mouth nase, the common barbel, Achondrostoma arcasiiSqualius pyrenaicus or Cobitis paludica are very endangered species in other areas. In these redoubts they have found an ideal habitat in which to survive.

In short, if you feel like getting lost in areas where no human being has passed for years, this is your place. I hope you enjoy it as I have had the privilege of doing it during all my youth…. And I still do every time I go back there.

Birdwatching in Sierra San Pedro

One of the best places in Extremadura for birdwatching is Sierra de San Pedro, on the border of the provinces of Cáceres and Badajoz. Do you want to do birdwatching in Sierra de San Pedro? Below you will discover some keys and the most emblematic species.

Mapin species

Sierra de San Pedro is a mountain range of low altitude, in which the Mediterranean mountain predominates. However, there is a very interesting mosaic of crops such as olive groves, vineyards, cereal fields… And of course it is surrounded by meadows, which allows many birds of prey to have an ideal habitat for nesting and hunting.

birdwatching in Sierra de San Pedro
Eurasian eagle-owl

If there is a group of birds that stand out in this area, it is the birds of prey. We can see practically all the raptors of Extremadura in this area, both diurnal and nocturnal. As emblematic species we would highlight the cinereus vulture, Bonelli’s, imperial and golden eagles and the Eurasian eagle-owl. All of them have interesting densities, although we must not forget that they are top predators and are at the top of the food chain. The densities of these birds will never be high, but if we are lucky we will be able to observe several of these species in the same day.

Clamator glandarius
Great spotted cuckoo

In addition to the birds of prey, we could also highlight several forest birds such as the great spotted cuckoo, the hawfinch, the brambling, the green woodpecker… and a great variety of fringilids. On the other hand we can also observe some mountain birds, rare in other regions. We could highlight the ring ouzel, the alpine accentor, the rock thrush and the blue rock thrush. In addition, in the vicinity of this mountain range we have large pastures where we can observe all kinds of birds typical of the Mediterranean mountain and even steppe birds.

Other interesting wildlife

Cervus elaphus
Young red deer, Fernando Mostacero

Finally, and as a plus for this area, it is worth mentioning the abundance of large mammals. Hundreds of wild boars and deer find in this mountain range an idyllic habitat. In addition, we can find fallow deer, mouflon… and even some roe deer. As for predators we can find foxes, badgers and other mustelids and, if we are very lucky, we might even come across a wild cat.

Some advice, birdwatching in Sierra de San Pedro

Albarragena river
Albarragena bridge

An important percentage of the Sierra de San Pedro are large private farms, mainly dedicated to livestock or hunting. Several of them are crossed by public roads, through which you can travel without any problem, as long as you do not leave the road. Depending on your physical condition, you can choose to make trips by car or take long walks along the trails.

There are several recommended routes and also a good number of viewpoints from which you can use binoculars and / or telescope. These viewpoints are usually very good places to observe vultures, Egyptian vultures and other diurnal birds of prey.

Birdwatching in Sierra de San Pedro
Beautiful sunset in the foothills of the Sierra

Depending on the time of the year, it is important to choose the right time to make the routes. In summer, due to the high temperatures, most of the birds concentrate their activity in the first and last hours of the day. In winter this is not so important and we can observe birds of prey hunting in the central hours without any problem. However, if we want to see the great eagles hunting, the best time is spring. During the months of March, April and May these raptors have to hunt much more in order to feed their chicks.

Birdwatching in Sierra de San Pedro
View of  Peña del Águila lake

The routes usually have a moderate difficulty, it is a mountain range without steep slopes and if you have a good or acceptable physical condition you will have no major problems. Keep in mind that in many points of this mountain range there is not much coverage so I recommend that you download the routes before arriving.

I hope this information will help you to enjoy birding and wildwatching in one of the richest areas of Extremadura.

Best places for watching birds in Extremadura

Watching birds in Extremadura
Watching black storks

There are many ornithological routes already established in Extremadura, but here I will try to present the best places for watching birds in Extremadura, according to their classification. Do you want to try to see the great eagles? Are you more interested in steppe birds? Or would you like to observe waterfowl birds in lagoons and wetlands?

Whatever your preference, in this section you will find interesting information about where to observe different groups of birds. Of course this is not an exact science and it is impossible to guarantee that you will see the imperial eagle, bittern, little bittern, little bustard… or other endangered birds. However, I can assure you that if you take your time and know how to stop and look, you will see a number of species that are rare in other regions.

Bird of prey sighting areas

Watching birds in Extremadura is probably the best choice in the Iberian Peninsula, so there are a large number of ideal areas for this.

To see the great eagles, the Sierra de San Pedro is a very good option. In the vicinity of the Peña del Águila reservoir we can see golden eagles, imperial eagles and bonelli’s eagles. In summer, short-toed and booted eagles are also frequent, and in winter the osprey occasionally drops in.

If we want to see harriers, kites, buzzards or kestrels, we can go to the Llanos de Cáceres, the plains of La Serena, La Albuera or Dehesas de Jerez, among many other options.

Aegypius monachus
Monk vulture, Fernando Mostacero

For the great vultures and egyptian vultures Monfragüe is an iconic place, although there are also many other options: Canchos de Ramiro, Sierra de San Pedro, Las Hurdes…

The peregrine falcon is rather scarce but can occasionally be seen in the Siberia or Canchos de Ramiro. Forest birds of prey such as the sparrowhawk and the goshawk are not easy to observe either. The areas of Gata, Hurdes, Sierra de San Pedro, Tajo Internacional or Monfrague can be good options. Especially goshawks will be easier to spot in wooded areas with high rabbit densities.

The small merlin is very scarce, although if we are very lucky we could see it in the southern Campiña, La Albuera or the surroundings of the Almaraz reservoir… And lastly, to see eurasian hobby, which are equally scarce, we should move to the east of the region. Preferably in the province of Badajoz, although there is a certain population in the pine forests of Tiétar.

Watching birds in Extremadura: waterfowl

Due to the enormous diversity of birds associated with the aquatic environment, the following are the main areas in which we will be able to see a large number of them. If you are interested in a particular species, you can visit the waterfowl page for a little more information.

Watching birds in Extremadura
Purple heron, Fernando Mostacero

Almaraz / Arrocampo reservoir is one of the best places for watching birds in Extremadura. A great place to see all kinds of water birds, including the western swamphen and the squacco heron. Also in the province of Cáceres is the Borbollón reservoir, where a large number of cranes and geese roost in winter. Los Barruecos, where we can take a very simple route in which we can observe a large colony of white storks and various ducks… There are innumerable areas ideal for bird watching, but to name them all would mean creating a post just for them…

The province of Badajoz also have several great areas for birdwatching. In La Albuera we can see stilts, gooses, red-crested pochard and many other aquatic birds (also steppe birds). In Cornalvo there is a wide variety of ducks and black storks, in Alcollarín a multitude of waders, ducks and common spatula and in Valuengo we could highlight the gadwall and the shoveler. Another good spot is Arroyo Conejos, where the gull-billed tern, the little tern and the collared pratincole.

Finally, I would like to mention the urban stretches of the Guadiana in both Mérida and Badajoz. In both cities, dozens of species can be easily spotted, and the large number of birds present in each urban centre is particularly noteworthy.

Sighting areas for steppe birds

Extremadura is a region with large plains, ideal scenarios for the sighting of steppe birds of all kinds, some of which are in serious danger.

Otis tarda
Great bustards, Isaac Fdez Galisteo

The plains of Cáceres and Sierra de Fuentes are excellent areas for the observation of great bustards, little bustards, pin-tailed sandgrouse and black-bellied sandgrouse. The Cuncos reservoir and its surroundings are also home to good populations of great bustards and little bustards. Of course, the area around the Albuera lagoons is another excellent place to observe steppe birds. Finally, the area around the Arroyo Conejos reservoir is also worth mentioning.

Watching birds in Extremadura: mountain birds

Watching birds in Extremadura
Blue rock-thrush, Angel Cañones

Extremadura is not a region characterised by large mountain formations or significant altitudes. Nevertheless, we can find a variety and quantity of rupicolous birds and/or birds associated with mountain ecosystems. In the north of Cáceres we have the Sierra de Gata, Las Hurdes, El Jerte and La Vera. Here we can visit key points such as the Chorro de los Angeles viewpoint, the Honduras pass or the Chorrero de la Virgen viewpoint. Passerines such as the dunnock, alpine accentor, bluethroat and rock thrush, blue rock thrush… can be observed in these areas.

On the other hand, and although they are not considered high mountain ecosystems, in the Canchos de Ramiro as well as in Monfrague or the Villuercas we can find large stone cliffs. In them we can observe rock birds such as the crag martin, the red-billed chough, ravens and jackdaws…

Sighting areas for woodland birds

We close this block of areas for birdwatching with the forest areas. As in the previous case, Extremadura is not a community that stands out for having large, leafy forests like other communities further north in Spain. However, it does have some well-preserved forests that are home to good populations of forest birds.

Watching birds in Extremadura
Great spotted woodpecker, Fernando Mostacero

In the province of Cáceres, the best places to see birds are the chestnut and oak groves on the way up to the Honduras pass from both Hervás and Jerte. The climb up to the Refugio del Brezo from Losar de la Vera can also provide us with a good number of sightings of passerines. There we can find the short-toed treecreeper, jay, great tit, warbler, bunting, tit, bunting, hawfinch, chaffinch, brambling… The pine forests of Tiétar are another good place to see birds associated with this type of forest.

Finally, in the province of Badajoz we also have several interesting spots. In the Cerro de Tentudía we can see less frequent birds in the region, such as the green woodpecker or the redstart. In the Sierra de San Pedro we can see the bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, nuthatch… And in the large dehesas in the south of the province, we can see cuckoos, great spotted cuckoo and warblers, among others.

As you can see, Extremadura is a very biodiverse region, with very varied ecosystems. In them we can see most of the birds present in the Iberian Peninsula. I invite you to get lost in this region so unknown to many, I am sure that like me, you will fall in love with it.