Extremadura Common Crane Festival
Extremadura in Spain is the main wintering area for those European Common Cranes that follow the westerly migration route. Some 80,000 cranes choose Extremadura to spend the winter, 30-40% of the Western European population and more than half of the Spanish population, estimated at slightly more than 150,000 Common Cranes.
An abundant food supply, the existence of numerous wetlands for shelter and the mild winter temperatures in Extremadura, all combine to provide these birds with an ideal habitat to spend the winter months.
Taking the foraging, feeding and roosting areas as a whole, it is estimated that the surface area occupied by this species is around 1,835,000 ha, which represents 44% of the region’s surface area. It is therefore, a species which can be easily spotted over a large part of Extremadura’s territory.
The Festival de las Grullas in Extremadura (Extremadura Common Crane Festival) came into being with the aim of once again promoting and spreading the word about Extremadura’s exceptional natural resources and its unique position in the European context, while at the same time conserving this species and educating and raising consciousness about it. Culture, tradition, nature, environment and tourism go hand in hand over the entire programme of activities which offer something for everybody of all ages during the festival. The organisation and development of this event has meant the collaboration of public and private bodies related to the conservation and protection of the species as well as with the planning and promotion of tourism in the region.
21st Day of the Cranes in Extremadura
On Sunday 2 December 2012 ADENEX holds the 21st Day of the Cranes in Extremadura, an opportunity to get closer to this beautiful species and their habitats, which will help you learn more about their way of life, the problems that affect them and conservation initiatives. ADENEX invites you to see their spectacular flight paths from their feeding areas to their communal roosts, one of the most stunning images nature has to offer during the winter Extremadura.
Over the past 21 years, the activity of the Day of the Cranes has been celebrated in a number of wintering localities throughout the region: Puerto Mejoral, the Canchales Reservoir, Reservoir Borbollón, Talaván, Valdecañas, Arroyo Conejo , Navalvillar of Pela …
The 21st Day of the Cranes will be held in two areas where these birds winter in Extremadura and where ornithologists from ADENEX will explain to birdwatchers about the biology, migration and wintering of cranes, their Crane Project as well as conservation issues affecting this species. Also available are information panels and visual aids suitable for observing birds. The observations will start at four in the afternoon.
Locations for Day of the Cranes on 2nd December 2012
High Moheda (Navalvillar Pella,Badajoz). Moheda Periurban Park Alta is at the top of the Vegas Altas del Guadiana, halfway between the Sierra de Pela and The Villuercas. It is a large area of pasture that has remained safe from changes in irrigation. Except for the western border, it is surrounded by corn and rice. The entire Moheda Finca Alta, with 150 ha, is part of thePeriurbanaPark and is owned by theTown Hall ofNavalvillar of Pela. A short distance away, in the rice paddies at the rear of the Gorbea Lake, is one of the largest roosting areas for common cranes which can contain more than 10,000 birds at some times. Overall the irrigated areas and pastures of the Vegas Altas del Guadiana are the most important wintering area for this species inEurope. Location for meeting: Park Moheda Alta.
Canchales Reservoir (La Garrovilla, Badajoz). Located north of the towns of Esparragalejo and La Garrovilla and built on the Rivera de Lacara, the reservoir is surrounded by crops and pastures of oak trees. The population of cranes in this area may exceed 2,000. Other bird species such as ducks, waders, raptors and herons can also be seen at the reservoir. Location of meeting: The Canchales Dam.
Various activities, such as guided bird watching tours, animated shows and workshops will also be held on 1st December. These are listed here.
The cranes habitat and their food
European cranes chose Extremadura mainly because their essential habitat in winter is pastures with oak and here they find a food that they have known for thousands of years: the acorn.
Video of cranes in Extremadura
However, changes in agriculture in recent decades have changed the landscape of large parts of our region, contributing to a food cranes abundant and easy to obtain: corn and rice, which remain after the harvest.
This form of “artificial” food in the extensive irrigated crop areas has caused a variation in recent years of the winter distribution of cranes in Extremadura, producing huge concentrations in areas such as the Guadiana Vegas Altas and decreasing their number in many traditional areas.
At the same time, the meadows of oaks are suffering a process of degradation, with little or no regeneration of the trees, changes in land use, livestock over exploitation, disease, etc. In addition, the extensive development of irrigated cultivation of maize and rice have replaced thousands of acres of oak in recent years.
But we must not forget that the future of the cranes in Extremadura will continue to rely on our pastures of oak. The cultivation of products which today favour cranes, providing abundant food, can change quickly, depending on the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. When these areas begin to grow other products, the cranes will need their original winter habitat, which is also the fundamental habitat of Extremadura and which we have an obligation to preserve for future generations.
ADENEX is the Association for the Protection of Fauna and Flora and Natural Resources in Extremadura (Asociación para la Defensa de la Naturaleza y los Recursos de Extremadura) and was formed in March 1978.
Maps and books about Extremadura
Walking in Extremadura by Gisela Radant Wood
This book is perfect for all types of walkers and visitors to Extremadura and is currently the only one available.Containing a choice of 27 routes everyone is catered for – those wanting a long challenging walk or a shorter easier stroll, also included are three historical city tours – ideal for those planning to explore Merida, Caceres or Trujillo on foot. Clear maps, useful diagrams with detailed route instructions, including GPS points for those who prefer to use a GPS, make this book easy to walk with and find all key landmarks along the way. The author also thoughtfully provides overview history and other practical information as well as local hints and suggestions. All written by a person who is obviously familiar with Extremadura and a passion for walking in this region combines to successfully let the reader discover Spain’s secret paradise. In addition the size, including a handy cover with integral book mark, and quality printing make it the ideal walking ‘companion’. Review by Rob Innis
Extremadura by Dirk Hilbers
Extremadura has great things for all sorts of travellers and this guidebook will introduce you to the natural splendours of this beautiful region, explain the mechanisms behind them, and direct you to the best places to witness it all for yourself. Detailed descriptions of hiking trails and car routes are conveniently linked to information on everything you want to know about the whats, wheres and whys of Extremadura’s splendid nature.
The CNIG (Centro Nacional de Informacion Geografica – Spain’s equivalent to the UK’s Ordnance Survey) walking map of Monfrague National Park in Extremadura Spain. The map has contours at 10m intervals, vivid relief shading, and colouring/symbols to indicate various types of terrain and vegetation. It highlights tourist information such as campsites, sport and leisure facilities, places of interest, etc. The map contain a 1km UTM grid, plus latitude and longitude margin ticks at intervals of 1’. This map includes a 62 page booklet, illustrated with numerous colour photographs, IN SPANISH ONLY with descriptions of recommended hiking routes, lists of campsites and other accommodation, etc. The guide also contains lists of useful addresses, including accommodation, notes on the park’s history, flora and fauna, and safety rules and recommendations. This map also indicates locations for bird watching.
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