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The remote region of Extremadura in south-western Spain is characterised by gently rolling hills with a savannah-like landscape, suddenly interspersed with rugged mountain chains and steep river gorges. It is a wild, thinly populated area with vast plains, dense mountain forests, flower-lined streams, dramatic cliffs and empty, wavy grasslands. Its landscapes are desolate and lovely at the same time; a strange mixture that has pulled and enchanted many visitors.
Extremadura is one of those ancient rural regions, shaped by man and shaping him over the course of centuries. The result is a rich flora and fauna and a unique traditional rural lifestyle with tiny villages and ancient cities. But above all, Extremadura is famous for its unsurpassed birdlife. Nowhere in Europe will you find so many birds of prey. Eagles, vultures and kites are everywhere and include rarities such as the Spanish imperial eagle, the black vulture and the black-shouldered kite. The rural landscape sustains incredible numbers of hoopoes, bee-eaters, rollers, shrikes and other beautiful birds. No other grasslands in Europe have such a fine assembly of steppe birds.
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Dirk Hilbers (1976) founded the Crossbill Guides Foundation and travels Europe for the production of the guidebooks. For this title, he spent a year in Torrejon el Rubio, in the heart of Extremadura, and guided bird and nature tours to the region. His Crossbill Guides Foundation is a European non-profit organisation dedicated to increasing public involvement with nature conservation. One of his goals is to produce comprehensive guides and other services for nature enthusiasts and tourists to all major European natural areas. Each guidebook is prepared by Dirk in consultation with local nature experts. He hopes that by sharing knowledge and enthusiasm with the visitor, this will deepen appreciation for Europe's splendid natural heritage and foster an understanding of the necessity of its conservation.
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