A Day of not looking looking in the right direction or being in the wrong place.
I met Juan Perez at the usual place in Granada and we set off north for a change heading for Sierra Morena looking for the Pardel Lynx (Lince Iberica / Lynx pardina. We were meeting Manu, Silvia and Marisa at a bar near to the site at 09:00 which was why we set off a bit later than normal at 07:00. I had met Manu on several occasions doing the RAM sea bird surveys but it was the first time I had seen Silvia or Marisa. Whilst we were waiting for them to arrive we picked up a couple of Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) in a tree nearby, heard and eventually saw a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and watched lots of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) as they fed on the far side of the road. When the others arrived we drove the 14km or so to the site, which was easier than the last visit as the road had had some work do on it. Once we were on the dirt track all eyes were peeled as we were really getting into the area for the Lynx, I was looking off to the right and slightly behind when Juan had a Wildcat (Felis silvestris) run across the road in front of the car which I missed. A little further on we picked up a fine Stag Fallow Deer (Dama dama) lying down under the Oak trees watching several females nearby. We decided to drive down to the dam first and have a look for the Wallcreeper (Treparriscos / Tichodroma muraria) which had been wintering in the area for the last few years but there was no sign, but we had good views of Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), more Hawfinches, Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
After a while we want back up to the Lynx area and settled down and searched the valleys and rocky outcrops nearby. After a while I had a walk back down towards the dam to see what birds were around, almost straight a way two Black Vultures (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) flew passed very low and headed up towards Juan and the others. In the area I also picked up a Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and along way off on a ridge a male Mouflon (Ovis orientalis). On the walk back up the hill an immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) did a low fly past and a single Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) circled over a nearby hill.
Once back with the other we picked up Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis). An adult and two young Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) came up the valley to the side of us giving good views, more Fallow Deer were picked out and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were added to the Mammal list. I then had a walk off in the other direction and had a chat with to English birders and soon wished I had not as ignorance was bliss till they told me that at 09:00 they had had the Lynx down to 25 metres and had the shots to prove it and they showed me some crackers. I went back to the others with the news and the two lads who showed the shot around again. It was well into the afternoon by now and the cloud cover was just starting to break which meant that the Vultures started to get airborne, several Blacks and Griffons were picked up as was a stunning adult Spanish Imperial which showed well for at least 10 minutes. Eventually the clouds completely cleared but by this time they were casting very long shadows and a short while later we had to call it a day and admit defeat in our hunt for views of the Lynx but there are always the memories from my last three visits and the thoughts of the next. On the way back we stopped for a drink and after a chat we said our goodbyes and headed home.
Photographs from the top: 3x Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) and Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).