Dave Kilbey Photography

Black necked Grebes in Spain

Posted by Dave Kilbey on Tuesday 24 May 2011 at 2:32am

Black-necked Grebes in Castilla La Mancha

Having enjoyed it thoroughly last year I’ve headed out to Spain again to visit some new areas (Castilla La Mancha and the Sierra De Gredos) and also to revisit Extremadura.

The area collectively known as the Lagunas de la Mancha Humeda in Castilla La Mancha was my first stop (in particular a small town called Pedro Munoz). 

Pedro Munoz Laguna - Dave Kilbey

Pedro Munoz Laguna - Black-necked Grebe habitat

This was principally to find black-necked grebes which are relatively abundant in the area….

Black-necked Grebe - Dave Kilbey

Black-necked Grebe

In fact, the area has one of the largest breeding populations in Europe.  Despite this they’re not all that easy to photograph largely owing to the fact that most of the water bodies are large and the birds are quite some distance away.  Inevitably I spent a lot of time searching out locations that would enable the birds to approach close enough and in half decent light – and thankfully, I found a hide that did the job (there are quite a few hides dotted around the area but most are locked, face into the light or, as was the case several times, had been used as a toilet - yuck!).

So, with suitable location found I spent the next two days laying low and providing the local mosquitoes with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  However, it felt worth it as I got some great views of not only the black-necked grebes but also flamingoes, ferruginous ducks, black-winged stilts, white-headed ducks and red-crested pochards along with the odd fly-by from the resident pair of marsh harriers.

Black-necked Grebe - Dave Kilbey

Black-necked Grebe

White headed duck - Dave Kilbey

White-headed Duck



The real highlight of Pedro Munoz turned out not to be the birds but meeting the owners of my accommodation, Mila and Juan.  They work in Madrid during the week but head back to Pedro Munoz for the weekend.  As soon as they got back and we’d had the chance to say hello they opened a great bottle of local white wine and we spent the evening chatting.  They then whisked me off to a local Fiesta to show me how the locals celebrate… and I provided yet more of the local mozzies with dinner.  I’d highly recommend their house if you’re thinking of heading to the area, and if you’re about during the weekends to meet Mila and Juan then so much the better!

Their website can be found here: http://www.lacasadelaermita.es/


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