Pastures and dry farming land
Recommended Seasons: SPRING AND WINTER
These pastures are the final phase of the degradation of the Mediterranean forest now that most of the trees and shrubs have disappeared with their accompanying heaths. It is often difficult to believe that once these same lands were dense with vegetation. They tend to occupy large extensions of land and form a particularly flat landscape. In general, the pastures are associated with the dry farming of cereals such as wheat, barley and oats.
Many species of bird find this an ideal habitat for breeding where others are attracted by the abundance of food and breed in rocky areas, forests or grazing lands.
The most typical species to be found on the pastures is the great bustard with populations in Extremadura in excess of 6,500 birds whose spectacular courtship ritual is one of the major bird watching attractions in the region. In this flat habitat, other frequent species are little bustard, pin-tailed sand-grouse, sand grouse, collared pratincole, the little owl, and stone curlew.
In the cereal fields, colonies of Montagu's harrier which are sometimes accompanied by pairs of marsh harrier and, more rarely, of hen harrier establish themselves.
In country houses the roller or colonies of lesser kestrel frequently nest and both species are fond of occupying the hundreds of nesting boxes mounted on the poles carrying the electricity supply cables through the region.
The abundance of magpies makes possible the presence of the greats potted cuckoo, the parasite of its nests.
Small bird communities are also very numerous, especially Thekla and crested larks, tawny pipit, zitting cisticola, black-eared wheatear, southernt grey shrike and corn bunting. It is the habitat par excellence for red-legged- partridge and at times quail.
In winter the area is enriched by the presence of other species of birds arriving from the north such as common crane, golden plover, northern lapwing, hen harrier, merlin, meadow pipit, skylark, and white wagtail.
The abundance of food favours the presence of other birds of interest which nest in different habitats such as the Spanish imperial eagle,bonelli's eagle, golden eagle and short-toed eagle, or carrion birds attracted by the herds of animals such as griffon vulture, black vulture and Egyptian vulture.
The SPA's with the largest area of pasture and crops are 'La Serena', 'Llanos de Cáceres', 'Llanos de Trujillo', 'Magasca', 'Llanos de Alcántara y Brozas' and 'Campiña Sur y Embalse de Arroyo Conejo (Brook Conejo Reservoir)'. Certain areas within the 'Dehesas de Jerez (Jerez dehesa)', 'Llanos and complejo lagunar de la Albuera (Lakes Complex in Albufera)' and 'Llanos de Zorita and Embalse de Sierra Brava (Sierra Brava Reservoir)' are also significant.