The previous week I co-guided the Ultimate Spain Quest, organized by EUROPESBIG5.
We wanted to show Iberian lynx, wolf and bears as well as general Spanish wildlife to a group of Belgian nature enthusiasts. No expensive hides or feeders, but the real deal of tracking shy carnivores up in the Spanish mountains.
Pristine nature and its top carnivores, is what we were after.
The trip yielded sightings of lynx, bears (three times), wolves (four times), otter and all birds on the wish list (including displaying great and little bustards and 21 raptor species). Sadly, no less than 12 out of 14 days were rainy. Hence a lack of more decent pictures. As a photographer I missed two decent pictures (very close lynx and bear) by being at the wrong place at the right time.
But we saw all large carnivores in one trip rendering all group members very happy and eager to come back.
We started the two week trip in Andalucia, looking for el Lince. Iberian lynx still is considered the rarest cat in the world.
Johan in the weather outfit that was most used
Stunning lynx landscape with typical weather
Spanish imperial eagle on the hunt for rabbits
Annoyed by Magpies
Then finally the calls came in. “Lynx ep de boane. Ep de boane! Ep de boane”
En there he was
We left Lince land, eager to come back…
Subsequently we did a stop in Extremadura for steppe birds before heading north to wolf country.
Spring in dry land
Black storks mating flights
Great bustard preyed by wolves (probably)
Lots of European turkeys
Corn buntings every 50m along every road. Stunning!
Spanish definition of a green roof
Then we went to Sierra the Culebra where we saw wolves 4 out of 8 times. One sighting was pretty close but still early in the morning. Hence I only have a Record shot of an alfa female circling a pack of deer
The trip ended tracking Cantabrian Brown bears (the coolest bears in Europe according to Jan – I think he’s 100% right, given the amazing landscape these bears can be seen in). I missed a good photo of a bear at 80m because I was at another lookout, but this is a good reason to go back. Nowhere else can one photograph bears in such an amazing landscape…
When beehives are protected like this, you know you’re in bear country
Jakke scanning for Teddy
BINGO. Big male bear, just awoken. Record shot
Thanks to tour leader Jan Kelchtermans who did a great job showing the tour participants a stunning amount of pristine European nature.
See for yourselves at www.europesbig5.com.