Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Birding Jaen and the Osuna Triangle

The diversity of Andalucia, a province almost as large as England, makes birding here such a pleasure, not least because the ever changing landscape is so captivating during my travels in the region. The number of protected natural areas ensures you are never far away from wild places and so it was we travelled to Jaen, more specifically to Sierra de Andújar the home of the Iberian Lynx. Of course the Parque Natural Sierra de Andújar also plays host to many of the larger birds to be found in the peninsula including Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and Eagle Owl. My group on this particular tour were interested to witness firsthand the diversity of the province in terms of landscape and wildlife, so they had chosen Jaen and then, based in Carmona, to explore the Steppe of the Osuna triangle.

Our first port of call was Jaen and the Sierra de Andújar; we stayed a couple of nights and this allowed one complete day plus an afternoon to explore the area, not long enough for such a large and magnificent area! We needed more time here and our visit was further complicated by cold and wet weather, who would have believed that during the second half of May? The cold prevented us from hanging around too long in our quest to find Lynx, but we did observe close Black and Griffon Vultures plus good views of Golden Eagle. The usual local specialities gave good viewing and Azure-winged Magpie was as popular and showy as I could have hoped for! Typically I was without my camera when Golden Oriole came so close and perched for a full minute as we stood close to a river watch point. This species is fast becoming my bogey bird as far as photography is concerned.

Meet Sandra - female Iberian Lynx captured by Jose Luis's camera traps
Before setting off towards the Osuna Triangle, I managed to spend time with my friend and colleague in Andalucia Wildlife Guides Jose Luis Sanchez Balsera. Jose Luis showed me his new bird observation hide and some of his camera traps, which he has successfully used to capture photos of Lynx. The hide is a superb construction and part of the planning includes a purpose built pond, this provides water all year round and of course is an attraction to many local birds as well as mammals. I intend to revisit the area and hopefully spend time using the hide for photographing a few target bird species I have i.e. Spanish Imperial Eagle! To find out more about this facility see this LINK.

Good views of Black Vulture compensated a little for the cold & wet weather
As we left the higher sierra and made our way south, the weather brightened and the temperature rose to a respectable level for the time of year. We birded our way from Ejica to Osuna in balmy sunshine and wallowed as much in the temperatures as we did the birds. A thrill for all the group was close views of a hunting and hovering Black-winged Kite, whilst various waterbirds, seen on the local lagoons surrounding the main town of Osuna, also captivated us, especially the large flocks of Greater Flamingo. Our route was well planned to take a coffee break near to the back lanes leading to Marchena, where we were later to see breeding Stone Curlew, so much better named than the more recent rendition from anal academics i.e. Eurasian Thicknee!! Opportunities for other great birds ended our day in splendid contrast to the early morning.

Stone Curlew - a common breeding bird within the area of the Osuna Triangle

Our day spent in and around Osuna was highly rewarding, although distant ink black clouds kept us on the move whilst we had decent weather! First bird up for the day was a stunning Little Bustard as it flew across the road fluttering its display flight before landing near to us and proceeded to strut the strut and crack away for a female’s attention. Soon we had superb views of Montagu’s Harrier, Greater Short-toed and Calandra Lark, Roller and Lesser Kestrel, whilst a target bird, Spanish Sparrow, was seen in their hundreds! Visits to various lagoons produced both Gull-billed and Whiskered Tern, with swimming Avocets providing a strange sight along with a flyby of a Purple Heron. Black-winged Stilt amused everyone with their constant chatter and mobbing of any large bird passing by, including the innocent hawking of the local Lesser Kestrels. We ended by sitting and enjoying a large number of Collared Pratincole, a bird with attitude as one of our party remarked.

Turtle Dove were common in the Osuna area and great to know they survived hunting to arrive here!

We finished our day more or less in time to miss an absolute deluge, thunder and rained-on parade as Osuna celebrated its annual Feria, the poor locals all dressed in their traditional costumes and I guess that’s what was inviting the bad weather! Another tour ended and great fun it was too. It is always exciting to let folk put together an itinerary with our help and for me it is a pleasure to guide these tailor-made tours. I look forward to the next one.

Collared Pratincole - a wader with attitude!

To put together your own guided tour see examples on our website HERE

To accompany Peter on one of his local day tours see his page HERE

1 comment:

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Spectacular images and your writing so well spoken and interesting to read. Thank you for sharing~