The Pardel Lynx in Sierra Morena.
Jayne, Juan and I set off at some unearthly hour to drive into the mountains in Jaen Province with a dream of seeing Pardel Lynx (Lynx pardina). This was a trip I had long waited to do and a species I had wanted to see for many years.
We arrived before the dawn but found the site was blanketed in Mist and visibility was about 30 meters. As soon as we got out of the car we started to pick things up by sound including the bellowing calls of a great number of rutting Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Little owl and as soon as dawn arrived many species of passerine started to rise. Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Song (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) were all heard.
Juan and I had a stroll along one of the tracks and I had a look at some of the trees and plants. The only blooms seen belonged to Iberian Milk-vetch (Astragalus lusitanicus), a species I had seen before in the area around Grazalema. Round-leaved Oak (Quercus rotundifolia), Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) and Cistus bushes made up a vast amount of the ground cover. At about 12:30 the fog had cleared enough for some serious watching to take place. One of the first interesting finds was an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) which was sitting in one of the larger Oaks, it later moved closer in a eucalyptus but remained on view all day much to the dislike of the local Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común) population which pestered it all afternoon.
I then took a stroll along the track again and on my way back I stopped to talk to a couple of Spanish lads and suddenly notice Jayne and Juan waving madly and I soon realized that the walk was a big mistake. The next 200 meters were a blur, I wasn’t but it was the fastest I have moved in a very very long time (probably since PE lessons at school), I got to the others to get a two second view thought the scope. I had seen a Lynx but not for any thing like long enough, but it was a start and I did not wonder off again for the rest of the day. Luckily a few minutes later the magnificent male Lynx came into view again a lot closer, it moved through the Oaks at speed and then appeared right out in the open on one of the tracks. We had marvelous views, it was still about 270 meters away but through the scope it was great. During the afternoon the animal was seen again briefly several times until its last sighting when it was about a 750m away but again through the scope it could be seen lying in the grass cleaning its self before moving out of sight over a ridge. During the day we also saw Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) a couple call continuously all day, Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata).
Photographs from the top: Site in the mist, Round-leaved Oak (Quercus rotundifolia), Juan, Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) tracks, Distant (750m) Pardel Lynx (Lynx pardina) honest and Iberian Milk-vetch (Astragalus lusitanicus).