2017FranceandSpain

After a pleasant stop off in Rouen, we arrived in Chinon, our base for three nights.



8 - 10 August Loire Valley


A pleasant few days but I was very frustrated by mostly cloudy weather with some heavy rain.  This certainly didn’t help the wildlife watching.


As well as the Loire and Vienne river areas we made a couple of trips to Drylands of Meron.


Species seen in the former area included


blue-eye,


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southern migrant hawker,

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long-winged grasshopper,

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leek grasshopper,

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map,


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sooty copper,


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jersey tiger (which were fairly common)

and wasp spider.


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The drylands of Meron proved to be good for Montagu’s harrier - although my closest views were from the main road, where parking was impossible. Sadly this was the best photo that I could manage.


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Other species seen included stone-curlews and 2 quail.


Our drive to Moliets-et-Maa was very long and not helped by traffic problems, at least partly caused by rubber-necking at a car on fire. This meant we only had time for a brief stop at Mallezais Abbey, where I had very brief views of what must have been lesser purple emperors. Very frustrating.


Moliets-et-Maa and Reserve Naturelle du Courant d’Huchet 11 August - 15 August



This was basically a beach stop but we did see a some wildlife.

Red squirrels were coming to a feeder in the campsite.


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This coypu was seen in the reserve.


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Several species of Orthoptera were seen including this grey bush-cricket pictured slowly gnawing my daughter’s hand,

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migratory locust

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and white-faced bush-cricket.


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Other wildlife included white-tailed skimmer.


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We then continued southwards to our campsite in Potes.


15  - 19 August Picos


A couple of high level walks and a low altitude one from Potes. Like most people, one of our walks was from the top of the cable car from Fuente De.

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I failed to see wallcreeper at the top of the cable car, which is a traditional site and somewhere where I’ve had good views. I did see one for our other hike to high altitude but it was far from cooperative. In fact the photos are not even worth showing.


Alpine accentors were fairly common.


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Alpine choughs were rather more cooperative.

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Griffon vulture

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We saw quite a few Pyrenean chamois

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Although the mammal highlight for me was a snow vole. Sadly it disappeared before I got a shot.We also got good views of a wild boar, while we were taking an evening drive, but poor parking opportunities meant I didn’t get a photograph.


At the top of the cable car, several alpine newts were seen.


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Chalkhill blues were abundant

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And heath fritillaries were very common away from the peaks.


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Other butterfly species included the spectacular large wall brown.


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and great banded grayling


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It was then westwards via Puerto de San Glorio.


This was a good site for citril finch.


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19 - 22 Boca de Huergano area


This was very much a mammal site. We wasted no time in looking for and seeing wildcat.


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We saw two or possibly three individuals which looked like pure - or reasonably pure - wildcats but we also saw this individual which showed a white patch which would seem to be a sure sign that it was a hybrid.


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This is the same animal from behind. As can be seen, its tail looked very good for wild cat.


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I was hoping to see wolf, unfortunately an early morning and an evening trip with Wildwatching Spain failed to produce any. I was not totally impressed with them but I have no doubt they are the best bet for anyone who wants a reasonable chance of seeing wolf in Spain.


These superb female Schreiber’s green lizard was definitely a highlight of this area.


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We didn’t see much of excitement on the bird front but this bluethroat was a pleasant surprise even if it was determined not to show well.


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23 - 30 August, Somiedo National Park


The main reason for visiting this highly recommended area was to look for bears. We saw, presumably the same female, once with its two cubs near, or from Gua. The views were okay through a scope but far too far for decent photos. As proved by these photos.


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I loved this area but the wildlife watching was mostly quiet.

The insect highlights were two praying mantises, both in our campsite in Pola.

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Red underwing skipper

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Birds included a few short-toed eagles.

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This rock thrush was pleasing as I seem to be very bad at seeing them usually. Another was heard singing but not seen.


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This is a male Schreiber’s green lizard.


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As elsewhere wall lizards were common.

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Sadly, as usual, the time to head home came around horribly quickly.


We’d booked the ‘budget’ sailing back from Bilbao. In some ways I prefered this to the Pride of Bilbao as the ship wasn’t so huge and you were closer to the sea. It did mean only three hours seawatching. The first hour and a half was deadly dull. The low evening light levels were not helped by the poor weather. I did see several Cory’s


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and 2 great shearwaters.


A whale was seen very distantly jumping completely clear of the water. Sadly it was a one-off.  










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