2007 France and Spain

2007 France and Spain

After facing the perils of Paris traffic we started of at Fontainbleau.  Michelle, Byron and Tilly went to look at some palace thing while I went birding.  Highlight was superb - but too brief to photograph - views of black woodpecker.  Spent a lot of time struggling to identify butterflies.  

Some like this sooty copper were relatively easy.


Others like this Niobe fritillary took me a bit longer.


Other butterflies included small pearl-bordered fritillary and chalkhill blue.

A green lizard was also of interest.


It was then off to Etang de Canet, in the south of France.  Succeeded in getting badly burnt and seeing a few birds - such as the only rollers

of the trip - but took very few photos.  Bee-eaters were common at many places but this was the only place I got a picture, pity it is so poor!


A nine hour drive brought us to Col du Tourmalet areas; superb scenery and superb wildlife.  My main target was snow finch, as I'd missed it in the Spanish Pyrennes and the Picos, this proved to be very easy.


Another species I was very keen to see was alpine marmot and this proved to be pretty common in Cirque du Troumouse and Valle d'Ossoue.


Of course the scenery was amazing, even if the drops made the driving rather hairy sometimes!


And it was another place where I struggled to identify the butterflies.

Shepherd's fritillary


It was then a long drive across the border to the Echo valley in Spain.  Highlight here was an eagle owl but I had a very unsuccesful time taking

pictures.  Then another hell drive to the Gredos mountains.  This was basically a 'twitch' for Ibex and we got superb views as they came down one evening.


Other highlights included black vulture, rock thrush and Iberian green woodpecker.  Crag martins were common, and unusually co-operative.


Next stop Montfrague.  Not a great success! No white-rumped swift or Imperial Spanish eagle.  However about 200 griffon vultures at Pena Falcon was certainly an impressive site.


In fact, despite the lack of eagles, an amazing site for raptors.  Black vultures were regularly seen, along with commoner species such as short-toed eagles.


The campsite proved to be a good site for azure-winged magpie.


Then it was a relatively short journey south to Trujillo where we had the luxury of a room for three nights!  A wonderful town, but a nightmare to drive around.

Sadly the birding was a disappointment.  At least partly due to the heat, well in the late thirties for much of the time, and due to an exploding tyre.  The later lost us a big chunk of time as the garages were all shut the day we did it.

It was then off to the SW coast, with a quick stop enroute for western olivaceous warbler at Los Palacios y Villafranca; where we completely failed to find a campsite with any space (it was Friday afternoon).  Eventually, after eleven hours of driving, we found a hotel for the night inland a bit.  Saturday morning found us with a place at Vejer and working on the tans!  Spent the next week between Cabo de Trafalgar and Tarifa.  Sadly the infamous strong winds were a pain towards the end and we moved on earlier than intended.  Highlights here for me were red-necked nightjar and chameleon.


Migration was starting, slowly.  Most evident were lots of black kites moving south, with smaller numbers of Montagu's harriers and white

storks.  Other birds included Audouin's gulls:


and Egyptian vultures:


After being driven away by the winds we had a nine hour hell drive in possibly the worst thunderstorms I have experienced anywhere in the

world.  We almost randomly picked a small village called Candelario, on the very edge of the Gredos to break up the journey.  This proved to

be a very pleasant place and despite being very laid back here I even saw a few birds such as honey buzzard. It was then off to the Picos for a

flying visit.  Had very pleasant time at the top of Fuente de.  Unfortunately hadn't bothered to take my Tamron on the cable car.  A big

mistake, so these were taken with a 300mm Sigma.



Alpine accentor


Alpine chough


It was then off to Bilbao, in more awful weather, to see Guggenheim museum, and wait for the ferry.  Not surprising not a great deal of wildlife.  

Long-tailed blue were very common.