28 August 2014

Lynx Hunting in the Sierra Moreno

The Sierra Moreno still has a few Wolves hidden away somewhere in the north of the area but they're almost impossible to find. Iberian (Pardel) Lynx, however, is supposed to be much easier since here they are at their highest density in Spain and there's a lot of effort being made to preserve and increase their numbers. The south of the Parque Natural and the area outside the Park there seems to be the best place to look. We didn't actually find any Lynxes but then we knew it wasn't a good time of year to try. Maybe we'll be able to get back this winter.

The Sierra is just over the provincial border in Jaen Province, about two hours away. It's a superb area with or without Lynxes, the birds are brilliant and the presence of large hunting estates means populations of Deer are very high.

There are plenty of Griffon Vultures as you would expect but it's also fairly easy to see Black Vultures here, their white feet standing out against their black plumage.

The road signs remind motorists regularly about the presence of Lynx with a reminder to keep to the speed limit.

One of the first birds we saw was a young Eagle Owl, still a bit fluffy around the edges, sitting out and looking huge on a rock pinnacle. Unfortunately it was too distant for a good photo but then there were already Azure-winged Magpies around, making their presence known. We saw hundreds through the trip, possibly the commonest bird but very difficult to photograph even when close unlike some commoner birds like Bee-eaters.

The southern part of the Sierra, north of Andujar is Lynx territory and that's the bit Kathy and I explored. We kept seeing Deer often at close range and often heard the Stags too. Red Deer were everywhere though Fallow Deer were far from unusual.

Outside the Park we headed for a dam on the river which is in the best area for Lynx and can be good for birds and other mammals. The Lynx share some of the area with Torros Bravos - Fighting Bulls which are traditionally bred in the area.

It was in this area that we had our best views of Spanish Imperial Eagle, another speciality of the area. An adult drifted towards us, coming amzingly close and giving stunning views. I took shot after shot only to find the camera setting had slipped and they were all nothing but white light. I managed a couple of poor record shots (the best below) as it drifted further off. I was gutted.

We carried on to the dam where a Black Stork flew off on arrival and there were Blue Rock Thrushes, Golden Orioles and less expectedly Green and Common Sandpipers. There were also Mouflon here, females and young. A mammal tick for both of us.

On the way back up the track we saw agroup of Wild Boar, a bit distant but always good to see.

Finally we stopped of at a picnic site as we re-crossed the river which turned out to be an excellent place. We watched Hawfinches here, a favourite species which we don't find nearer to home as well as Kingfisher which, again, is difficult along with Black Vulture and Booted Eagle. Another reason for stopping at this place was that I thought I'd got a glimpse of a White-rumped Swift earlier but couldn't be sure. A lifer and something of a magic bird though I didn't hold out much hope. There were Red-rumped Swallows however, a species which seemed to be everywhere this summer (hopefully some will grace Pembrokeshire later). I started taking photos and then to my shock and delight pretty boy below flies into the viewfinder. It more than made up for the loss of Spanish Imperial Eagle photos. I managed the fairly ropy shot below but it was a great moment.

As I was taking photos this large colourful lizard was hanging around, no idea what kind but another reminder of how there is to learn and explore in this region.

No comments:

Post a Comment