Looking back on our Spanish trip it wasn't the best one I have taken with Mike but there again, circumstances conspired against me and I had my share of bad luck. I know Mike had a much happier experience than I did but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it.
Where could I have improved on things? Well, realising my teleconverter was malfunctioning would have been a major help. I would have abandoned using it much earlier had I known and probably made more use of my 7D cropped body instead of the full frame one.
The hides? I never got the feeling that we were getting dealt with in a straight manor. For Jose it's his business and he needs to try and maximise his income which when things go well would not be inconsiderable but there are times when things must run a bit thin. However, when he's at a peak period for clients I think he's probably understaffed. Having just one other person working with him he needs to time all his client drop offs and collections carefully .We felt we could have been allocated more time in some hides than that allowed to us which could have been productive and certainly offered better value than the average 50 euros per hide each 2-3 hour session cost.
I also got the feeling he was placing us in hides to suit his schedule rather than our desired choices. Maybe even giving other clients priority for what ever reason that we were not aware of.
Of the hides themselves though the Hoopoe one was probably the best I have experienced for that species, the Lesser Kestrel and Southern Grey Shrike were very good too, the Low Water hide was outstanding whilst the Drinking Pool one was not completely fit for purpose and the Vulture feeding not worth the extra expense it costs( 80 euros pp). Nature is fickle and there are no guarantees so it was my misfortune the Black-winged Kite and Little Owl hides were virtually a waste of time, in fairness though there was no charge for the non appearance of the Owl.
I also felt that Jose was unnaturally over cautious about his clients behaviour. I can only think that somewhere along the line someone has behaved really badly for him to take such a mistrusting attitude . Wiring you in to your hide is actually unacceptable really. I guess in an emergency it would be possible to break out but we never got to try. Hopefully you can!
The weather too makes a big difference, this was the earliest date we have set off on a trip and yet for Spain it was late in the season. I would recommend anyone wanting to use the hide set up to consider at least two weeks earlier than we did, basically mid April . By the time we has access it was too late for both Little and Great Bustards which was a shame as they had been our No1 and 2 targets in the hides.On the other hand our friends Rich and Steve had indeed booked those earlier dates and much of their experience was ruined by high winds and cold weather.
You pays your money and you take your chance as they say.
I suppose one of the biggest disappointments though was the lack of a decent meal during the last 9 nights of our stay. Fortunately we had been spoilt in our first stopping place but that said if I were to recommend a base Colera-Y-Chozas is pretty good as the road network is fabulous and the Cuatro Cominos very inexpensive, Almoharin was too far to the south.
Would I return?
Maybe, maybe not. If you haven't tried though it is definitely worth the visit.
The Sierra de Gredos and Castillo in Monfrague for fly by Vultures were both outstanding and free.
The hides could be very rewarding indeed if you get lucky and yes, I would probably sit in the Kite hide for 16 hours if I knew there would be a fair amount of action.
So it's over to you. I am sure there are other reports out there that might help convince you if this is the place for you.