Spain Birding/Iberian Lynx Trip Report

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A trip report from my April 2015 Birding Trip to the Andaulsian region of Spain which also looked for (and saw) Iberian Lynx, the rarest cat in the world. A great range of birds were including Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and many more. Areas visited included Andujar, La Lantejuela, Osuna, Tarifa, Bonanza Salt Pans, Brazo del Este and more.

Text of Spain Birding/Iberian Lynx Trip Report

Spain Trip Report Andy Walker 2015 3rd-12th April 20151 Spain Birding/ I berian Lynx Trip Report April 3rd-12th 2015 Andy Walker http:/ / Iberian Lynx J eroen Vanheuverswyn April 2015 A familiarisation trip for Birding Ecotours http://birdingecotours.comSpain Trip Report Andy Walker 2015 3rd-12th April 20152 Outline Itinerary I had a bit of leave that needed using up so got chatting to a couple of friends and decided to go to Andalusia, southern Spain to look for Iberian Lynx and a few Spanish specialties. I t was also a great opportunity to do some scoping out for possible future tours to the region for Birding Ecotours. I had read a few trip reports that suggested April probably wasnt the best time to try for the Lynx (most people going in J anuary and February), but I planned an itinerary that offered me 3 or 4 days in the key areas with the hope that this would give me enough opportunity to try and connect, with the thought that there would at least be some migrants/interesting resident birds around whilst I waited for the Lynx. I purposefully left the second half of my week flexible so that if I wanted to stay in the Lynx area for longer I could, with the plan that Iwould try and get to some of the other decent birding areas in the region if time permitted. The general area visited (c/o Google) A short while before I left Igot speaking to a local York area birder, Paz Fletcher who was keen to join me for part of my trip, with the aim of seeking out Blind Mole and Spanish Festoon butterfly, with the Iberian Lynx being a decent incidental tick for him. So we got things organised. Paz decided hed come over for the first 7 days, and Id stay on for a few days after. Id had a lot of communication with Oliver Reville (Next Generation Birders) who I knew was going to be staying over there with a group so made loose plans to catch up with him if things fell into place. As things transpired Paz and I spent four nights in Virgin de la Cabeza (Hotel: Complejo La Mirada), followed by two nights in La Lantejuela (Hotel: Hotel Albanta). I then moved over to Alcala de los Gazules where I met up with Oliver and the NGB team for three nights. The eventual itinerary was as follows: 3rd April 2015 Early morning flight from Leeds Bradford to Malaga (J et2), travel to Andujar Area arriving late afternoon (overnight Virgin de la Cabeza); 4th April 2015 Andujar Area in the mountains looking for Iberian Lynx and following birds: Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Wheatear, and Rock Bunting (overnight Virgin de la Cabeza); Spain Trip Report Andy Walker 2015 3rd-12th April 20153 5th April 2015 Andujar Area in the mountains looking for Iberian Lynx and following birds: Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Wheatear, and Rock Bunting (overnight Virgin de la Cabeza); 6th April 2015 Andujar Area: relaxed birding and some cultural stuff around Virgin de la Cabeza then looking for Iberian Lynx, butterflies and following birds in the lower areas along the Rio J andula: Spanish I mperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Magpie, Nightingale, and Rock Bunting (overnight Virgin de la Cabeza); 7th April 2015 Early departure from Virgin de la Cabeza to the La Lantejuela Area focussing on a range of salinas and permanent ponds, and arable and grassland agricultural land looking for the following birds: White-headed Duck and other waterfowl, Black-winged Kite, Montagus Harrier, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, waders, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and Iberian Yellow Wagtail (overnight La Lantejuela); 8th April 2015 La Lantejuela/Osuna Area all day. Morning birding for the aforementioned species, afternoon ringing for Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, and Black-winged Kite (overnight La Lantejuela); 9th April 2015 Early morning departure from La Lantejuela to Alcala de los Gazules via Malaga (to drop Paz off), Tarifa, and Barbate. Target birds included a range of migrants (weather dependent, hopefully raptors and passerines and Audouins Gull) at Tarifa and a range of wildfowl and waders, and Northern Bald Ibis at Barbate (overnight Alcala de los Gazules); 10th April 2015 A day focussing on saltpan, wetland and farmland birds at Bonanza Salt Pans, Los Portugeuses, and Brazo del Este with the main target birds including: Marbled Duck (and a wide range of breeding and passage wildfowl and waders), Squacco Heron, Purple Swamphen, Collared Pratincole, Slender-billed Gull, Savis Warbler, Penduline Tit, Common Waxbill, and Black-headed Weaver (overnight Alcala de los Gazules); 11th April 2015 A day in the mountains in Montejaque (Llanos de Libar) targeting the following birds: Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Bonellis Eagle, Alpine Swift, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrow, and Rock Bunting, and an evening at Cantarranas until dusk for Black-winged Kite, nightjars and owls (overnight Alcala de los Gazules); 12th April 2015 Relaxed morning departure from Alcala de los Gazules to Malaga via Tarifa to have a look for mote migrants, and Audouins Gulls. Afternoon flight Malaga to Leeds Bradford (J et2). A beautiful view along the Rio J andula just after the second Iberian Lynx spot Spain Trip Report Andy Walker 2015 3rd-12th April 20154 Background I nformation/ References/ Resources I had some really great (and appreciated) advice from Oliver Reville (NGB) on some decent places to go birding in Andalusia, and he forwarded me a couple of really useful trip reports specific to the Andujar/Iberian Lynx area. These had all the details I needed, and detailed annotated maps too. I dont know who they are authored by as no details but I can provide copies of them on request. As I was also going to do some birding in the Cadiz region I used J ohn Cantelos excellent Birding in Cadiz Province (J une 2014 version), is easily available with a google search. This huge document covers all the sites you could wish for, and importantly for me covered a few sites just outside Cadiz province, ones I was planning to visit. Thanks should go to J ohn for his report as it will have taken a lot of work to put that together. I found all of the information within the document to be accurate and helpful. I got to meet J ohn in Alcala de los Gazules so was able to thank him personally! I dont intend to detail instructions to all the sites visited (other than as in the outline itinerary above) because I couldnt add anything to J ohns notes, or those of the Andujar/Iberian Lynx trip reports. However, if anyone requires any specific advice/updates Im happy to provide it where possible. Where to Watch Birds in Southern and Western Spain (3rd Edition, 2008) was also quite useful at times for a bit of an overview. The Collins Bird Guide (book and app) was useful and I created a European bird song playlist for my IPhone based on CDs of European bird songs in my possession. We also used a couple of guide to European Butterflies and Mammals. Site, Travel and General I nformation I hired a car through Centauro (, it worked out about 14 a day and we got picked up and dropped off at the airport to their centre, about a five minute drive from the airport. All went very smoothly. I hired a Ford Focus 1.6, it was brand new, had got 2 km on the clock. I wrecked it! It went on some appalling rocky roads, across a few farmers fields and along the new railway line being built when we were out ringing. I smashed a hole in the skid plate on the last day but they didnt seem to care so I didnt get charged any extra, a bit of luck! Fuel appeared cheap and I downloaded a satnav for my IPhone which worked a treat. Driving was fairly simple, decent main roads at least, and fairly quiet. Lots of speed cameras but not sure if they work. One of the many great things about Spain (other than the wildlife) was the quality food and drink. Paz and I ate at some really nice restaurants and cafs and did a supermarket trip in Andujar for food for our lunches lots of bread, meat, cheese, olives, cakes, nuts and fruit etc. which lasted the week. It was great to be able to spend some time getting to know some of the Next Generation Birders, I wish there was something like NGB when I was their age! They were a great group of people and left me feeling that the future of the UK birding scene is in good hands! Must say thank you to them for letting me doss down on their sofa for three nights and not shaving my eyebrows off etc! We also got lucky bumping into a couple of local birders/ringers (Manolo and Pepe) in La Lantejuela and because we could communicate with them in Spanish we managed to get a birding experience not many others would have had their first-hand local knowledge was great, and birding with them was great fun. Ive included a range of photos in the report. All of the photos in this report were taken with my Panasonic Lumix FZ-200, with a few off my IPhone. We met a Belgium wildlife watcher (J eroen Vanheuverswyn) in Andujar who got some decent photos of our first Iberian Lynx whilst he was stood next to us; he has very kindly let me use his photos in this report. Please take a look at the originals on his website if youd like to see more: . The rest of the images are mine, mainly record shots more than anything else. Spain Trip Report Andy Walker 2015 3rd-12th April 20155 Birding/ Wildlife Highlights Iberian Lynx The main reason for our trip and the main highlight too. We ended up seeing two individuals. One from the main lookout area in Andujar along the road between Los Escoria