Tuesday 10 October 2017

Newsletter August / September 2017

Newsletter August / September 2017.

August is usually the month of fiestas with small communities working together to produce spectacular entertainment, sport and family fun ensuring that the more mundane matters of everyday life are swept aside in  a positive tsunami of celebration

The incredibly dry spring and summer resulted in several forest fires in the region but fortunately the areas where our local wolf packs are have remained safe from this ever-present threat. A nearby fire in a neighbouring valley was quickly controlled by the amazingly brave, hard-working bomberos ( firemen).

The brave firefighters flying right into the heart of the fires

We enjoyed an abundance of passing migrants including several pied and spotted flycatchers on our woodland walks this month.

Part of August was spent with returning clients Paul and Zoe who decided to try a Browsing for Bears tour after their very successful Watching for Wolves tour a couple of years ago.

The weather was kind and the bear viewing was tremendous, with eight individuals showing at various viewpoints over the time of their Browsing for Bears tour.

Two separate females with two cubs each could be watched as they fed on the hazelnuts.This year because of the cold early June and the ensuing dry summer the fruits of Alpine buckthorn have been in very short supply. A young sub-adult and a young male bear were also seen on different occasions.

During walks in the beautiful scenery of Asturias and in wonderful walking weather, John, Paul and Zoe had excellent views of Egyptian and griffon vultures along with birds which included nuthatch and red-billed chough. John captured some footage of a short-toed eagle on video, just losing the bird when it gathered speed to swoop down and snatch a snake right in front of them!

Here we can see the Egyptian vulture as it flew in the air close to Paul, Zoe and John's heads.

 A roe deer with two young fawns was a lovely sight to watch and added to the good views of red deer and chamois which occurred each day in the stunning surroundings of this incredibly scenic area of Spain.

In September Olivier and Natalie from Switzerland found the views and wide vistas at the viewing areas very photogenic and they were delighted to capture much of this atmosphere in their tour photographs, in between watching wolves which showed every day of their tour!

After a rewarding time at Villafafila spotting over thirty great bustards both in flight and on the ground, plus booted eagle, short-toed eagle, golden eagle, marsh harrier, hen harrier, Montague's harrier and common buzzard, the first wolf watch that evening offered an enjoyable time watching two wolves interacting with each other in superb evening light, to be capped by the sight and sound of a lone wolf throwing back its head and uttering a howl. An enchanting evening to begin their Watching for Wolves tour!

The views just kept coming each day for Olivier and Natalie as on the second day they first  watched five wolves and a young Bonelli's eagle, to be followed after a day of tracking and seeing much lupine evidence by a truly memorable evening watching  the progress of a female wolf  organising the six cubs of the pack to travel together to the river to drink.  All this was seen by us and was tremendous. The day visit to the Douro Gorge with its rugged beauty provided Olivier and Natalie with good views of black vulture and griffon vulture plus golden eagle and crag martins aplenty. The Roman settlement is being examined in an archaeological dig and this gave the viewpoint added meaning as the history of the area was being literally unearthed.

Later in September John and I were delighted to welcome Linda back on her fourth Watching for Wolves tour.

Each tour provides Linda with good wolf views plus the thrill of the stag rut, and yet there is always something and somewhere new to experience as well.

The sun sets on yet another successful evening's wolf watch.  Photo by Linda.

At the beginning of Linda's tour several griffon and black vultures plus ravens were noticed and sure enough it was not long before Linda and John were watching two wolves at a red deer kill.  As the vultures and ravens jostled hungrily and impatiently on the ground and in the trees while the kill was being devoured by two wolves to the background sound of the increasingly insistent stag rut, we knew we were watching a scene which had been enacted over centuries.
Here we watched the youngsters of the pack as they played and tussled  under the watchful gaze of a pack adult.

Linda was becoming increasing adept at her telescope skills and she was delighted to pick out a black vulture on the morning of 20th September plus being able to view six wolf cubs and two adults that morning too! The previous day John and Linda had found much evidence of otter activity by our village lake and they were amazed at the number of house martins clinging to the bridge soaking up the warmth and gaining strength before their autumnal migration.

The journey back to Asturias airport is a beautiful one and Linda appreciated the journey. Although it meant the end of her tour we could all look back on another most successful week of wonderful Iberian wolves in this most enthralling of regions.Margaret. Oct. 2017.

Thank you Linda for this photo...we so rarely get on the same shot together!