Monday, 2 September 2013

From another perspective!

Rosemary has written her own personal review of the Watching for Wolves tour July 2013, and I hope you enjoy reading this.  Thank you Rosemary for your work here, and we are pleased you feel you gained so much from your time in the Sierra de la Culebra.

Amateurs on a Wild Wolf Experience Holiday

Our holiday with John and Margaret was a wonderful experience.  We found the details on the Internet and booked the holiday primarily because we hoped to see a wolf, which luckily we did, but also because it is a part of Spain we had never visited.  Research on the Internet suggested the Sierra de la Culebra is a haven for all sorts of wildlife and so it proved to be.
Keith and I are geographers and nature lovers, so a visit to the Sierra de la Culebra gave us the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of the region. If you like to have a good idea of where you are when travelling around, we would recommend the 1:200,000 Mapa Provincial  of  Zamorra (ISBN 84-9810-889-6) which covers the Sierra de la Culebra in good detail.  The whole area is a stunningly beautiful unspoilt part of Spain with pine forest covered mountains and valleys of heather interspersed with small farms.  Very old villages dot the landscape – buildings hanging over narrow cobbled streets, some with stabling for animals below the living quarters.   We soon realised why Margaret warned us in advance that ATMs were a rarity in the region!

On walks through the countryside we were struck by the abundance of wild flowers, herbs and myriads of butterflies of all different colours and sizes.  The intense smell of heather and the sound of the bees added to our enjoyment.  A lasting experience was being in close proximity to a clearing in the heather where we counted 76 bee hives with a honey buzzard circling above.

The wolf watches at sunrise and sunset were periods of total relaxation – far from the hustle and bustle of city life.  You could not hear traffic – there wasn’t any, only the occasional train passing by.  We just sat and drank in the peace and quiet and listened to the birds and bees, with the occasional sound of a shepherd calling or his dogs barking.  John and Margaret scanned the terrain with their telescopes and called us over to have a look. We were treated to views through their telescopes which through our binoculars were just moving shapes!  We had no idea the area was so rich in red deer, roe deer and wild boar.  Our view of a wolf came at Villafafila less that 5 hours after we landed at Madrid airport!

We are not experienced bird watchers, being only familiar with the birds which visit our garden!  We were worried that our ignorance would be a handicap but were soon put at ease by John and Margaret.  We were amazed at their ability to identify such an enormous range of birds – often in flight and at some distance away.  All sightings were backed up by confirmation from the bird guide which provided details of the species just seen.  Our bird identification skills improved over the holiday and we could soon spot the bee eaters which invariably flew off before we could photograph them, and we could tell the difference between red and black kites.  John and Margaret inspired us to buy the Collins Guide to European Birds on our return.

Margaret meticulously recorded our sightings and her blog describes in detail the abundance of flora and fauna we saw.  Thank you very much John and Margaret.

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