Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Spain, 8th August 2011

After quite a long lie-in (most days were like that) we decided to split into groups for the day. I was to be in a 'group' on my own (they weren't trying to tell me something - it was my choice) and so I intended to return back up the hill we went to the other day to see if I could get some better shots of the Griffons in slightly better light. It was a nice morning with fluffy white clouds and warm sunshine - let's hope there are some Griffons soaring.

On the way up, I saw a few birds (nothing new) and took a few pictures of the trees etc and also some of a dragonfly - it looked like a miniature Golden- ringed like we get in the UK.

 The hill up which I was heading - just over the border in France

A little further up, I heard a loud sort of hissing or wheezing coming from just over a rise ahead of me, combining this with some quickly descending Griffons, I assumed they must be feeding. I was right and a little further on, I could see there were a number amongst the bracken but only got brief views as they lifted their heads up. They didn't hang about and soon took off - albeit in a rather ungainly manner - and in total there were at least a dozen with a similar number overhead.

As I walked on up, they circled overhead and as at the time, I was feeling tired and a little thirsty, I felt like an extra in a spaghetti western just about to become vulture fodder ! The vultures didn't hang about and in fact during the next few hours I only saw a couple of birds when I was at the top.

A big bird, full frame - in horrible light (both from the previous visit)
While at the top I was scanning around the sky, when I noticed a number of large birds flying / soaring over near La Rhune (the mountain we were up yesterday) which was some distance away. I quickly realised that they were in fact, migrating White Storks - 16 of them. As they passed La Rhune, they caught the wind and eventually drifted over the hill I was on - right at the moment I ran out of space on the CF card ! It didn't end there, as I tried to change the card in a hurry, I dropped the empty 8gb card down in to the gorse and rocks 15ft below, blast - or words to that effect . ( I did recover the card in the end) As all this was going on, a Frenchman who'd just arrived at the top was wanting to know what I was doing and also to see the pictures - and what I can say in French would fit on a postage stamp !

 Looking towards La Rhune from 'my' hill

'Flypast' of White Storks

 The only other bird that I saw of note was a distant Short-toed Eagle hunting over a beech wood, legs hanging down as it hovered in the wind.

Returning back to the house, the rest of the day was spent taking it easy - that's what holidays are for isn't it ? Later on in the evening after dark, Javier called me saying 'nightingale' , I didn't think for one minute there'd be a singing bird but it turned out to be something I'd not seen for around 20 years - a glow worm. There it was, just below the house glowing like one of those kids glow sticks, same principle I suppose. Even when I shone a torch on it to show Sula it didn't stop glowing. I'll remember that little insect for a long time.


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