|Marsh Harrier (John Hawkins)|
All week I had been on foot in Extremadura, exploring different habitats and landscapes, with the purpose of surveying birds, but with the reward to making daily discoveries, insights and an intimacy with wildlife that only the observer on foot can experience. Twice I stood to watch dog foxes saunter past, oblivious of my presence and once I engaged in a staring contest with a Roe Deer, under the autumnal colours in a wood of Pyrenean Oak. It took me back to childhood forays, setting off to walk alone in copses, field edges and along riverbanks. I walked paths that were unknown to me, having just a map as a guide, some fruit in my pocket. On most days here in Extremadura, my walks took me across plains, hillsides and forests where I could walk for hours without meeting another person. But this was how I came across wintering flocks of Little Bustard, in what seemed unpromising terrain, or admiredthe sight of a two male Bullfinch, a rare winter visitor to my part of Extremadura, deep in a shady, bramble-filled gully.
|One of many trails across Extremadura (John Hawkins)|
|Walking in the Villuercas Mountains (Martin Kelsey)|