The earliest "spring" migrants are on the move. The first Great Spotted Cuckoo of the new season arrive, normally males to check out the Magpie territories. Some Great and Little Bustard are showing the first signs of breeding plumage but can be difficult to find as they are moving around a lot.White Stork - many of which are now over-wintering instead of migrating over the Straits into Morocco and beyond - and Griffon Vulture are active with nest maintenance, and other raptors will soon be displaying.
Eagle Owl are marking their territory with their repeated booming hoot. In the rice fields, good numbers of waders can be seen. Water Pipit, White Wagtail sometimes in large groups. Red Avadavat juveniles can be seen after the November breeding season. Flocks of Golden Plover move around the area. They can be hard to see on the ground, but a group in the air is a beautiful spectacle.
Crane numbers are high- the typical average count at this time of the year is 25,000-30,000. At the December 2012 count a total of over 60,000 Crane was reached - a new record. The total count for Extremadura is around 100,000. Snow is almost unheard of but in January 2006 a snowfall occurred in the area for the first time in 22 years, although by the end of the day most of it had melted away. The snowy conditions seemed to trigger curious behaviour in the cranes, many of which were observed performing display dances.
There is a very large concentration of waterfowl on the reservoirs. Sierra Brava and the Embalse de Gargáligas may have 20,000 Shoveler, 15,000 Pintail, along with Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe.
Marsh Harrier roosts can bring over 50 birds together. At the end of the month the first Barn Swallows arrive if conditions are mild and House Martin may reach fair numbers. Easily taken for granted by northern birders, the wintering population of Robin and Lapwing is very high. Very few of these birds will still be with us in a few weeks' time.