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Monday, November 18, 2013

Griffons galore at the Foz de Lumbier, snow around the Irati forests, Northern thrushes mingling with warblers and a rip off camp site but at least I got a shower!

Progress , though I ain't gone far!
Posting from a public library in Arguedas because the wifi signal in the local bar here was just too feeble. I've made decent progress through Northern Spain and now find myself just outside the Bardenas Reales ... just done a quick reckie and have to say this is one of the most surreal places I've ever been! I can see now where the Spanish Steppes got their name and perhaps also where Salvador Dali got some of his inspiration! That's all to come tomorrow and for a later post so here's a bit of catch up.

The day after I last posted I woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground, it didn't last for long but while it did the countryside views were dazzling!

Redwing, Roncesvalles

I did't much fancy venturing too far away from Roncesvallles in case the weather got worse so I spent a morning tramping the woods again ... it was bloody freezing! One or two good birds about though, plus a Red Squirrel across the road.

Best birds of the morning was a huge flock of 300 Bramblings in the forests around Roncesvalles and some great looking Redwings, quite a few thrushes here in fact with both Song & Mistle Thrushes in amongst the Blackbirds. No Fieldfares though.

Bullfinch, Roncesvalles

Now here's a bird I've never seen in Spain before, its just a Bullfinch but hey 2 cracking males in a forest in the Pyrenees with snow on the ground and the sun coming out was just magic! Had a couple of Chiff Chaffs and a strange sounding woodpecker in the same sheltered spot..... bit like a Lesser pecker, but not quite?? We'll never know!

Chiff Chaff, Roncesvalles
Black Redstart, Roncesvalles

Black Redstarts all over the place as expected, but none more handsome than this one in the car park at Roncesvalles




Eating quite a lot of this ... very nice with a hunk of cheese and some decent bread!
Chorizo Sausage

The weather cleared up in the afternoon so I headed off to my next destination - the Foz de Lumbier, one of two massive gorges around here that are said to be good for Lammegeir and Wallcreeper. No joy with either as it turned out but I did find a half decent camp site, so was able to wash and get my tackle together with some degree of much needed civilised order!

Foz de Lumbier
The gorge at Lumbier was spectacular to say the least, hence the tourists ... hence I suspect no Wallcreepers but if you like to see Griffon Vultures this is the place to come. I counted just shy of 250 on the cliffs. I had Dipper and Firecrest here too to take my species list over 100 but generally I'm finding the birds very tricky to see let alone photograph! The Griffons were reasonably easy though ... so I filled my boots!

Here's a couple of the Gorge itself ..

Foz de Lumbier

Griffon pose ... some say these are the ugliest birds going?
Griffon fly past
Perfect metropolis for Griffons!
Griffon fly past2

Griffon fly past3
Griffon party ... almost a caption contest here!

Like I said, the Griffons were easy ... perched around on the cliff faces and floating over the gorge all of the time.

Camp site cost me close on 40 euros for 2 nights ... yes I had electric hook up but still that's a bit steep I thought for what must be low season, got charged VAT, some other 10% tax ....felt ripped off and it was some time before I regained my normal cheery self!

En route ... somewhere in the Navarre!

At some point the sun came out as I was driving and as luck would have it I was passing some lovely looking cliff faces and outcrops in the Navarre ... surely the prettiest part of the Pyrenees...

Next up was Las Canas, a wetland area just outside of Lograno. Not a bad little spot and I had some good birds there, just a shame it drizzled all day and with black clouds overhead the light was appalling ..... too bad, I had cracking views of 2 male Hen Harriers, so good in fact I could see the bright yellow legs on one when it conveniently perched in the middle of a stubble field (with hindsight I should just have forgotten it was dusk and taken a picture anyway because I didn't see 'em again the next day!). Not processed any pics from the last 2 days yet but with this gloomy light and persistent drizzle I'm not expecting much.

New birds for the trip here were Lesser Short Toed Larks .... stack of them (200 I reckon), Woodlarks (20+), Red Crested Pochard, Merlin and some probable Citril Finches but they do look so vedry much like Siskins!

I'm in good spirits, and so I should be ... what a wonderful adventure I'm having and its only lack of time and opportunity to post that prevents me from including more of my experiences over here. Maybe I need a camp site with wi fi access so I can sit down and do this from the van.... ah the luxury of that thought!

1 comment:

  1. Did you go to the vulture feeding spot at Foz de Lumbier? There's a hide there overlooking a small valley and a sort of car park area where the vultures all hang around waiting for dinner. We were really lucky to be there when a truck arrived delivering a cow carcass. Then all hell broke loose, the skies filled with Griffons coming in from far away, tons of Red Kites (our first) and an Egyptian Vulture (also a lifer for us). It was a magic experience. :-)