Showing posts from July, 2012

Pratincole gatherings

Late July and dawn down on the rice fields. The crop is standing deep and green, covering practically all the fields around me. Already there are teams of people working in the fields, pulling out weeds and a couple of tractors are out there as well. At first glance the area seems almost birdless, apart from a few White Stork standing on the banks separating the fields. A distant Marsh Harrier is quartering the ditches. There are parties of the tiny finches, the Red Avadavats, with the males now in full breeding plumage: bright red with white spots, hence their delightful Danish name: the Strawberry Finch. Originally from India, they are quite at home in the ditches beside the paddies and have their breeding season in the autumn. I turn up a little track and there, resting in front of me, is the biggest flock of Collared Pratincoles I have ever seen here. I quickly estimate 250 birds and when I later go through the photo (below) I count 262...not bad! The group was a mix of a

Watching the Iberian Lynx

What struck me almost immediately was the number of rabbits. We do not see many in Extremadura, but here I was seeing more rabbits in one morning than I would in more than a whole month at home. This was a good sign, because our quest on this mid-July expedition was a rabbit-specialist, the Iberian Lynx. Claudia, Patrick and I, along with our friends Anthea and John Hawkins (who took the attached photos of Lynx here) and David Hosking, had ventured outside Extremadura to spend four days in the Sierra Morena, near the Andalucian town of Andújar. The hilly terrain was covered by holm oak dominated dehesa , open woodland providing grazing. There were stone pines dotted around and exposed, weathered granite boulders, reminding me of the berrocal habitat around our home town of Trujillo. The Jándula river ran through the landscape, with two dams creating narrow, steep-sided reservoirs. Most of the landscape in view was either Natural Park or large hunting estates. This refu