It’s not often that I actually go away for an unashamed holiday, a bit of r&r. But that is what I have done for the past five days – spend time chilling and even enjoying cultural highlights!
 Skywatching from the hotel roof

I spent a couple of mornings avidly scanning the skies before breakfast. I was rewarded by passages of low flying finches (mostly Chaffinch), unidentified larks, a few Meadow Pipits, Wood Pigeons with Stock Doves amongst them, a Red Kite, Kestrel, a couple Griffon Vultures, Cormorants and a flock of distant geese. Strolling around the streets also resulted in a fine Peregrine soaring between the office blocks.

 Flamenco star, Sara Baras

I also saw my first ever flamenco theatre production by a dancing genius called Sara Baras. The show was called La Pepa and it was amazing. How she (and the rest of the cast) were able to tap their feet so much for so long was beyond me!

 Real Madrid taking the stage at the Bernabeu Stadium

I also watched Real Madrid (Gareth Bale, Ronaldo et al) put five past neighbours, Rayo Vallecano. The end result was 5-1. Superb atmosphere!

Of course, there was plenty of urban birding to be had in the city’s parks.

 Bathing Great Tit
 Iberian Green Woodpecker
 Monk Parakeet
 Great Spotted Woodpecker

Meanwhile outside of town in Pastrana, over an hour’s drive west of the capital I stayed in a country house enjoying the rural idyll plus clocking Firecrest, Hawfinch, Serin, Cranes, Griffon Vultures, Cetti’s Warblers, Blackcaps, Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting plus….

 Black Redstart

A great break was had. Now back to the grindstone…

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