Sunday, 16 April 2017

Stone Curlews, at the Fuente de Piedra, Andalucia.

It was mid-February, the weather had been beautiful in our region, in the Southwest of France
and time for us to get back on the road! The morning was hazy sun, and low mist, time for a quick picture and we were off on our travels.

Headed South for Spain and taking a very roundabout route to the Sierra Culebra and its Iberian Wolves, via Andalucia in the South and some of the best birding sites in Spain, which for us were some areas we had not visited on previous trips, into Portugal and then North.

South of Madrid we had made a night stop in the small town of Consuegra, with its hilltop Molinos,

Although the walk up to the windmills seemed tiresome after a long drive, we were effortlessly up there enjoying the sunset and what a view!

The following day we continued South into the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Andújar.

The park is home to around 100 Pardel Lynx, probably the last remaining viable population in the World, unfortunately, we had no luck, but we did surprise a small herd of Red Deer.

Walking around the North shore of the Embalse del Jandula we admired Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem and other wildflowers. 

A Spanish Imperial Eagle flies across the Peñón de la Cuna.

Small Copper butterflies were seen in the warm sun.

Lizards were also caught sunning themselves.

Our next stop, the Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra.

Earlier we had passed through the Province of Jaén, with its endless rows of olive trees, stretching to the horizon in all directions.

Monochrome light across the Fuente de Piedra, the weather had started to close in.

Huge numbers of Lesser Black-Backed and Black-Headed gulls over Winter here alongside several thousand Flamingos.

Stone Curlews are also present, it was great to catch this one flying in.

Once on the ground they just blend into the environment. This one keeping an eye on the Rabbit.

European pond Turtle.

A beautiful Male Sardinian Warbler.

With the Fuente de Piedra behind us, we went South passing through the Serrania de Ronda and its famous tourist town, our destination the Los Alcornocales, probably the largest Oak forest in the World. It is alluded to as the 'Mediterranean Jungle', its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean creates a high-humidity weather system.

Iris planifolia weeping with the damp mist, low cloud.

We spent a night in the charming town of Benarraba, before venturing deep into the 'Jungle'.

We followed small unmarked and sometimes unmade roads.

Sculptural Cork Oaks.

We left the forests and set our route for Tarifa with its beach and the Rio Jura and Africa just 15km    
across the Estrecho de Gibraltar. 

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