It has been a few years since I visited the National Park at Montfragüe in Extremadura but the chance arose last week and I didn´t let it go begging. Montfragüe is about half an hour´s drive north of Trujillo and runs in an east-west direction. The Río Tajo passes through it on its westward journey, ultimately to the Atlantic close to the city of Lisbon. In the National Park at Montfragüe the Tajo meets one of its major tributaries, the Tietar which joins it from the Northeast.

The Tagus is a hell of a river. It is over 1000km long making it the longest River in the Iberian Peninsula. About two thirds of the river runs through Spain before passing into Portugal. At Montfragüe it is already a very sizeable river although there it is a little constricted by an ancient seam of Ordovician rock at the famous Salto de Gitano. Here the Tajo struggles to push through the unyielding rock which is thrown into vertical cliffs. The skies here are full of vultures.

There is room enough at the Salto de Gitano to park and to wander around taking photos of the birds. Red-rumped swallows do the speedy acrobatic flying. They like to nest under cliff overhangs and so the Salto de Gitano provides a perfect breeding place. But the swallows provide only a sideshow. The real show stoppers are the vultures and we saw dozens of griffon vultures and three or four Egyptian vultures. Montfragüe has the world´s largest breeding concentration of Eurasian Black Vultures which are simply enormous.

In addition to the vultures there are a number of other raptors including golden eagle, Bonelli´s eagle, Spanish Imperial eagle Eurasian eagle owl.

I was thick enough to leave my camera at home but include below a number of photographs taken by more accomplished photographers to give you a feeling for the place.

If you ever have a chance to go to Montfragüe go there. You will not be disappointed.


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I found this lovely picture of a red-rumped swallow on

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This lovely photograph shows griffon vultures. These are by far the most common vultures seen in Montfragüe. These vultures were photographed in Bulgaria where their numbers seem to be increasing. It was taken from

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The black vulture is the biggest of the lot. I am not sure if I have seen one. Maybe I did but failed to distinguish it from the much more common griffon vultures. This picture comes from

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This is the Salto de Gitano. Again this photo is not mine (have you noticed all the best photos come from someone else?!). This picture was sources from