Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The journey back pt1 ... Castilla y Leon, freezing fog around Madrid, a different goose and some sheep!

Road-trip progress: 8th - 9th Dec 2013
And so to my 10th and penultimate post from the late autumn/ early winter trip to Espagne, and what a trip it has been. Memorable in so many ways but I'll save the round up till I've knocked up some kind of report / species list and gathered together all the best pics on some kind of gallery ....I don't mind spending a chunk of my xmas day doing that, strange bod that I am!

Christmas in Seville

Talking of Christmas .... MERRY XMAS EVERYONE! and all that follow my little blog on here and on #bagginstim..... thank you for your time.

After the dramatic scenery of Extramadura and the relative calm of Sevilla, I encountered some horrendously inclement weather as I tracked up west of Madrid .... freezing fog and lots of it settling on my windscreen made for 'uncomfortable' driving, especially at night and with local cars on the tail of a dawdling Englishman in a slightly broken Transit van!

So in less than 1/2 a day's driving (albeit northwards) I went from this lovely sunshine in Northern Extramadura, and me enjoying it ....
Lovely autumn colours nr El Torno, Extramadura
Yes enjoy that son boy 'cos it ain't shining up north!

..... to this the next morning
Wake up call, it's Winter! 8.30am, Zamora car park.
.... I so wanted that shop in the pic above to be selling hot coffee! (it wasn't). Van started first time though and it was definitely time to move on. The forecast was for more of the same for the next 3 days around these parts which was a shame because I'd really wanted to take in Vilafafilla for my last chance of more Great Bustards and other steppe birds, and I did drop in but it was hopeless ... the whole area was in a deep freeze and cloaked with thick fog, so absolutely no chance of seeing another one of these. If your Christmas turkey could fly it might look a bit like this!

Great Bustard in flight ... so wish I could have seen one like this!

I hadn't seen much for the past couple of days, northern Extramadura was pleasant but quiet apart from large lark & finch flocks, including another Citril Finch and the curious site of c40 Meadow Pipits and c20 Chiff Chaffs feeding together whilst above them maybe 400 Starlings perched on telegraph wires, this was nr some unremarkable water course between Toril and Serrejon, but somehow synonymous as far as the density of these particular birds.

I was in going home mode for sure but I was still yearning for at least another couple of days of good weather and good birding ... and indeed I got them. Travelling up through Castilla y Leon, the fog suddenly lifted and somehow (no satnav remember!) I navigated myself to Fuentes de Nava, nr Palencia - a piece of reclaimed agricultural land and now one of the most important wetland sites in Northern Spain.

The omens were good, en route, stopping for break somewhere nr Palencia, a bird on a wire I'd initially taken for a Kestrel turned out to be a Merlin (one of several I've seen recently) but none as photographable as this one.... nice!
Merlin on the wire, nr Palencia
Fuentes de Nava with flying Teal in the foreground
De Nava itself isn't as picturesque and dramatic as some of the other wetland sites I've visited on this trip but oh man it was just nice to feel some warmth again and be able to get out and walk some distance.

Fuentes de Nava_9dec2013

Not quite the diversity and numbers of birds either but certainly plenty of wintering Greylag Geese that's for sure .... never easy to estimate such numbers but I guesstimated about 2500! There were maybe half a dozen Spanish birders / photographers knocking around and as I found further south, this annual invasion of tens of thousands of geese really seems to take their fancy ... are we in the UK missing something here or what?
Wintering Greylags at Fuentes de Nava
..... or maybe they were attracted by something a little more unusual because (and here's the thing and I think benefit of taking stacks of pics) when I was reviewing said pics later something caught my eye. Take a look at this initially discarded photo of the same flock of Greylags -
Greylags at Fuentes de Nava .... check out the goose extreme left!
.... here's said goose on the left and it's definitely a White Fronted .... and I'd scoured the whole flock on the day for a 'different goose'!!!
Half a White Fronted Goose .... havin it!
Fuentes de Nava .. sun was shining but there's ice in that dyke!

... hehe, i'll have to rummage through the rest of my geese pics for more or maybe even a stray Bean Goose!!

Nice place this was and just what I needed ... somewhere big and rangy to walk about in with the sun on my back .... after that dreadful freezing fog it was almost heaven!

Teal across Fuentes de Nava

The light was superb late on in the afternoon ... just look at the colour on these Teal flying across one of the lagoons there.

Marsh Harrier over Fuentes de Nava
Other notable sightings from around here were at least 8 Marsh Harriers, 1 Hen Harrier, another Merlin, 1 Black Kite, a Water Rail (heard), 30ish White Storks, good numbers of common ducks - Teal, Wigeon, Shoveller, Gadwall, 1 Green Sandpiper, 20 or Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper and a Jack Snipe amongst 10 or so Common Snipe, 1 Water Pipit, 20 or Skylarks amongst the many Crested Larks and a singing Blackcap (albeit sub song, it was nice to hear).

White Stork overhead, Fuentes de Nava
Later on, as I was sat outside my van enjoying the sun and a sandwich, and thinking about where to go the next day, a local herdsman with his dog and his sheep made their way across the field, flushing geese as they went. It made for a lovely picture ....
Sheep herding amongst the geese, Fuentes de Nava
Looking at that picture above and all it says to me, it feels slightly odd as I sit here back at home in the UK watching the Simpsons at Christmas (best tv I could find!), posting about events that even now, less than 2 weeks later, seem a world apart! One of my lodgers just told me about grown men staggering drunk around the streets of York wearing xmas tree and advent calendar costumes, singing crappy old Slade songs ..... reckon you'd catch the herdsman in the picture doing that?

No comments:

Post a Comment