Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter Solstice 2016,a very eerie sunrise.

Today was the shortest day, the Winter Solstice, and we had a very strange sunrise. It came in a week that had seen beautiful sunrises, and misty starts to the days.
When I took the photographs, everything seemed normal, albeit the sun was shrouded in the mist, but now reflecting on them, I find it hard, to understand the sun's size! but I guess, the mist is just cutting out the sun's glare!

A few days before the Winter Solstice.

Mist shrouds, the entire river basin.

Merry Christmas to all our readers,
may the sun shine for you, this Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Chamois, a Wild Goat-Antelope, In the Cordillera Cantabica.

Having seen an Iberian Wolf, we had felt on a high, but we also realised, a Brown Bear would not be walking out in front of us anytime soon!
We had headed on for a night stop at Aguilar de Campóo. With the snow capped mountains all around us, cold clear skies, with such stunning scenery.

We had searched for supplies in Salinas de Pisuerga, not a shop in sight!

We headed for the town of Guardo. The route took us across a rugged plateau, Golden Eagles were seen hunting, in front of the rugged mountains, Common Wheatears, migrating North, perched atop fallen stones, in search of a snack.

After Guardo, the scenery became vast and bleak, with the snow line, about to meet us, we were constantly scrutinising the mountain sides, in the hope of seeing Chamois.
A few years ago, this act had produced a good result, when we found Iberian Ibex in Almeria province.

And once more it worked, we got a sighting as we approached the Puerto de Monteviejo, just south of Riaño. In the Cordillera Cantabrica.

We had seen them before on the high mountain sides of Zuriza, in Navarra, there we could only discern them, through our telescope.

These guys seemed as happy to watch us!

They actually seemed quite inquisitive!

The leader decided enough, and they started their retreat, back up the mountain.

Their last glance back!

That's it, they were off and good luck to them!

Riaño, looked wonderful, but also quite desolate, as we passed around the shores, of the Embalse de Riaño.


As we approached, the Puerto de San Isidro, the snow was getting quite deep, but the very efficient Spanish snowploughs had cleared the road.

There was no stopping, as we passed over the top, and started our descent into Asturias.
Through the tunnel at the Puerto, with its huge 18" inch long icicles, the road, only just passable, albeit we could not turn around had we tried. The steep mountain sides seemed to whisper avalanche! draped thick in snow, this was a very different World to our accent, and yes in two sections of our descent, avalanches had fallen, damaging the road, but we had no option but to continue. 

We did not stop, for any photographs until we had passed through the village of Felechosa, and out of the snow!

We parked for the night, safely at (Aller) Cabañaquinta, and rewarded with the sight of a male Bullfinch.
What a superb day of "travels".

Tomorrow we head for the Reserva Nacional de Somiedo,
Brown Bear, not a chance, not even a glimpse.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Iberian Wolf, our first ever sighting.

By the following lunch time, we hand made it to the Castillo de Los Rojas.

The road had become, very narrow, and steep, we had to evaluate our onward journey. 
We decided, over lunch that having come up this far, we would continue.

After lunch, we had good views of the Sierra de la Testa, we were in the Province of Burgos. This province hosts a healthy population of Wolves, the information we had been given, estimated
twenty-eight packs, numbering between 140 and 196 Wolves.

As we stopped to take this photograph, we had a sighting, of an animal, with considerable size! crossing the road, some distance ahead of us.

At first, we had thought it a Fox, then we realized its size, this was a large animal. It was our first ever sighting of an Iberian Wolf. By the way, it marked the territory, it must have been a Male, they are more commonly seen, females it appears are much scarcer. We just stood, in a state of disbelief, as it looked back, and then disappeared over the hillside.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Vincente de Sonsierra, tomorrow we start are search for the Iberian Wolf!

We continued, across La Rioja headed for Vincente de Sonsierra, and our night stop.
From there we would head on towards the Puerto del Paramo de Masa.
We are going to look for Iberian Wolves!

The Sierra Del La Demanda, looking very wintery.
A few years back, we had spent time up there looking for Crossbills.

As we passed through Briones, the air was full of wood smoke, reminding us how cold it had become.

The Castillo-Fortaleza de Vincente de Sonsierra.

The houses built around the Castello, their roofs gave a good impression, of how to stay warm and dry, in such miserable weather.

It rained, and it rained!

Yes, the sun was trying to break through the low cloud, and we were, back on the road.
Did we see, an elusive Iberian Wolf?
See the next post!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Night Herons (Black-crowned) Nycticorax nycticorax, along the Sotos of the Río Ebro in Spain.

Purple Herons behind us, from beautiful sunshine to pouring rain, everything had changed as we headed out to find Sotos along the río Ebro.
Sotos, are areas of the river where Popular, Willow, and shrubs all grow along the river banks. These woodlands are quite rare, amongst all the agriculture that borders the local rivers. These oasis, are great for birds, and especially the bird we were looking for, the Black Crowned Night Heron.   

We had found a small group of Night Herons by the early afternoon. Their behavior, actively hunting food during the day, probably pointed, that they were just migrating through this area! Although, they can sometimes be seen feeding during the daytime.

Once hidden away, we achieved good views of their movements. 

All five birds were showing their breeding plumage.

As well as the Night Herons, we observed, Grey herons, and Great white Egrets.

Male Serins, were also evident, singing from the trees, in hope of attracting a female mate!

We had to continue our journey, leaving these beautiful Night Herons.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Purple Herons nesting at the Laguna de Pitallas.

Late March, perfect Spring weather, another visit to the Laguna de Pitallas, this time our hope of seeing Eurasian Bitterns. A few years before, Pitallas had produced two flying Bitterns on a stop by, at this time of the year.
Alas, for us there would be no sightings, but we were treated to the spectacle of Purple Herons, nest building in the extensive reed beds.
Here are a few photographs of that day.

Corn Buntings, were singing in the warm sun.

Migrating Marsh Harriers searching for a meal.

The graceful Purple Herons.

Their striking colour gave camouflage as they landed back at the nesting sites, crashing into the reeds!

Going down.

 Already starting to disappear into the reed cover.

Further out, on the reeds a fourth pair are busy constructing their nest.

Black Necked Grebes in silhouette.

Yellow Wagtails, search for food as they pass North on their migration.
I think this Male bird is a variant from Central Europe a Flava but it could be a Bemma from the Northern Kirghiz steppe. It is quite difficult, to determine.

This one, I believe is a Lutea from the Southwest of Siberia.

They are, however, all Yellow Wagtails.