David and Steve's Spanish trip (Day three).
A Foggy start but it all worked out in the last of the days light.
The three of us set off from Huetor at an unearthly hour to make our way up to the north of Jaen Province and into the Sierra Morena area. We travelled through some quite thick fog on the way up but I was happier as we approached the site as the sun came through but just as we got there our hopes were dashed as the mist drifted back in and did not clear until after 2 in the afternoon. We parked up and were soon joined by more Pardel Lynx (Lince Iberica / Lynx pardina) hunters who were all confident that the mist would clear (eventually) as it did. While we were waiting several Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) could be heard bellowing from down in the valley and calling birds included Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), 4x Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula). As the fog was lingering we decided to have a drive back along the road the way we came in until we broke out of the cover, just before the mist cleared we got a view of the partial eclipse of the sun which would not have been possible in good light. We got views of a flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) feeding out on the field with some Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). We did see a couple more mammals for the list, several Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and an Iberian Hare (Lepus europaeus subsp capensis) which all flushed from the road side.
We returned to the site which was still in the fog so we continued on down to the nearby Embalse where I had seen a Wallcreeper the year before but the closest we came this year was being told by a Spanish birding couple that it had been there two days earlier. Around the dam we picked up a pair of Blue Rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a single male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) a single out on the lake and 3 Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) perched up high in a dead eucalyptus. We later went back up to the site for the Lynx and settled down for a wait for the fog to lift. We could hear a flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) moving through the oaks below. Eventually the fog started to clear and the birds were soon in the air, Black (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) and Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) were soon flying along the distant ridge near the Embalse. A few Black Vultures drifted closer and a single adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) flew over head and off into the valley below, it was later seen circling up out of the area and then it perched in a very distant tree. In the trees and bushes around the site we also saw Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica).
Steve had been for a walk earlier in the day and had found some Scats (Poo) that he thought might be from the Lynx (still not sure whether it was), so the three of us walked back down and photographed the jobbies and some Iberian Milk-vetch (Astragalus lusitanicus). On our return I was very perplexed to find a total lack of people at any of the watch points along the road we could see, this could only mean one thing the Lynx had been seen and we were not in the right place at the right time. We jumped in the car and drove very quickly around to the watching crowd, just as the ******* Lynx had disappeared from view. We waited and after a few minutes one of the cubs that had been seen earlier was lying out on a large flat rock. After getting great views of this animal things just kept getting better, next a second cub, then the male and female appeared followed by the third of the youngsters. We continued watching these animals for the next 40 minutes. This is the third time I have managed to get views of the magnificent cats and I still get the same thrill as on the first trip (May control the excitment better now). Once the light had dropped to the level where the viewing was difficult we left the family group and made our way home. What had looked like a fog out of a day turn out to be very memorable in the end.
Photographs from the top: View of the are, David and Steve watching the Blue Rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Iberian Milk-vetch (Astragalus lusitanicus) and two of the three Pardel Lynx (Lince Iberica / Lynx pardina) cubs.
54 bird species and 5 mammal species seen.