Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Predators of S/E Spain

We start our tour in the Valencia Region, which is full of wildlife surprises and it certainly isn't just the concrete jungle of the Costas - Blanca and Azahar. Inland from an equally productive coastal strip are impressive limestone mountains, Aleppo pine forests and extensive psuedo-steppe. Each day will be very different and diverse as we head out from our base in the small rural town of Moixent.

One night we stay in the mountains for dinner followed by a visit to a colleagues casita where we hope one of the European Genets will visit his feeding station just metres away from where we will be sitting - potentially one of the tour highlights.

LammergeierThe Sierra de Cazorla is one of the most important hot-spots for diverse wildlife in the Mediterranean Basin. It is arguably best known for it's thriving population of Spanish Ibex that roam the limestone massifs of this natural park. In the extensive forests there are Red Squirrels, Wild Boar and Fallow Deer. In recent years there has been a very successful re-introduction of Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture), which has culminated in the first successful breeding there for over 30 years. So much to see in just one day!

Iberian LynxThe Sierra de Andujar in northern Andalucia forms part of the Sierra Morena mountain chain and has a landscape formed from granite, quartz and slate, which is bordered by the Jandula and Yeguas Rivers. The natural park currently holds around 70% of the world population of Iberian Lynx and is working hard to increase this figure with habitat creation and an increased Rabbit population - this feline's favourite meal.

This gorgeous predator lives within some of the last remaining pristine Mediterranean forest where it specialises in hunting primarily lagomorphs, but also other prey. This ancient woodland is open and spacious - primarily of Holm, Gall and Cork Oak, though Alder, Mountain Ash and Poplars are to be found along the rivers and meadows. In this quiet and relatively unpopulated region, Spain’s wild animals thrive with Otter, Wild Boar, Moufflon and even Wild Cat sometimes being seen. This unique natural reserve also hold a large population of raptor species with good numbers of Spanish Imperial and Golden Eagle, Black and Griffon Vulture.

There is something for everyone!

Day 1 :- A morning flight into Alicante and we 'hit the ground running' by immediately visiting the Santa Pola Salinas, where we should see 100's of Greater Flamingos, Slender-billed Gulls, Avocet and lots of saline waterbirds. From here we drive the short distance to El Hondo, a huge reed-fringed shallow lagoon where we stop for lunch overlooking a smaller pool. Here we hope to find one of the several Bluethroats that over-winter along with Red-knobbed Coot and possibly White-headed Duck. However this visit is primarily for our first scarce predator with the possibility of Greater Spotted Eagle amongst the much commoner wintering Booted Eagles, Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzard. Late afternoon we leave Alicante for our inland lovely rural hotel on the edge of Moixent - will be a great start to the holiday.
 

Days 2 to 5 :- One day we head north to the Albufera d'Valencia, a huge freshwater lake surrounded by productive ricefields and Moro Marsh to the north of the city. We hope to find many species of waterbird including Glossy Ibis and Great White Egret, which used to be scarce in this area. We shall visit the a tower hide on the edge of the lagoon searching the wildfowl for Red Crested Pochard, Gadwall, Pintail and possibly Ferruginous Duck. The pine trees surrounding the reserve should hold Firecrest, Short toed Treecreeper and Blackcap, with the possibility of a raptor overhead such as Booted Eagle or Marsh Harrier. This evening we drive in the mountains of the Sierra de Muela de Cortes to visit a colleagues casita for dinner. During this time we hope one of the local Genets will visit the feeding station within the garden, just metres away from where we will be sitting. It could be a late finish but hopefully well worth the effort.

The next day involves crossing the border into Castilla La Mancha, which is only about 10Kms away, spending our time negotiating the quiet minor roads and tracks dissecting a fabulous area of pseudo-steppe. Here our target species are Great Bustard, Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark and Rock Sparrow. It can also be excellent for raptors with Red Kite, Merlin and Hen Harrier spending the winter in this area. Surprisingly on this flat barren land there is a network of seasonal lagoons which can be excellent for wildfowl with good chances of White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe and Water Pipit.


This morning will be spent climbing up the mountain roads and tracks to Rambla Seca - a dramatic place where the weather and cattle grazing mould the vegetation and the landscape. This is the home of the Lammergeier. This rare and iconic European raptor was reintroduced successfully around 5 years ago and in 2016 the first naturally-born young was hatched after a 30 year absense. The drive up we will make some stops in strategic watchpoints to try to spot one of the parks key resident mammals Spanish Ibex. They can be found picking their way with ease over the treacherous rocks and scree slopes, along with Mouflon, the high mountain sheep of the region. After lunch we will leave Cazorla and head off towards the town of Andujar, then up into the eastern Sierra Morena to the Sierra de Andujar - a journey of around 2 hours. Once we arrive at our excellent rural hotel, checked in and unpacked, we will drive out to one of the known watchpoints for our first chance of seeing an Iberian Lynx.


Days 6 to 8 :- Three full days will be spent in the Sierra de Andujar, a contrasting region with some of the best representations of Mediterranean Forest still surviving in Europe. The Sierra de Andujar forms part of the Sierra Morena Mountains and has a landscape of hills and mountains formed from granite, quartz and slate, which is bordered by two rivers - the Jandula and the Yeguas. Yet another of Andalusia’s hidden treasures of a Natural Park; which is home to the elusive and highly endangered Iberian Lynx of which only 150 or so remain in the wild. We shall be spending every early morning and late afternoon searching for this secretive animal from strategic watchpoints around the sierra. The rest of the time will be spent walking and driving the roads and tracks within the reserve along with time to relax in the afternoon around the hotel complex before our evening vigil.

This Natural Park is also home to the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle and many other sought-after raptors including Golden Eagle, Black Vulture, Goshawk and Peregrine. The tranquil rivers, separating a series of reservoirs, with dramatic dam walls that attract Black Wheatear, Rock Sparrow and Crag Martin, with Otters fishing the river below, will be in marked contrast to the lush vegetation of the rest of the trip. Everywhere we look there will be Azure-winged Magpies, Short toed Treecreepers, Firecrests, Nuthatches and Crested Tits. If time allows we shall even take a drive up to the Santuario Virgen de la Cabeza – a dramatic & historic building to which there is a pilgrimage in May that’s perched on top of a mountain in the centre of the reserve.


Day 9:- Our final day will be dependant on our success the past few days as there will again be an optional early start to look for Lynx, if time allows. After breakfast we shall pack the minibus and make our way back to Malaga Airport for your flight back home.

ACCOMMODATION OVERVIEW:
This three centre week starts at a fabulous rural hotel on the edge of the truly Valencian town of Moixent - La Bodega. Warm comfortable rooms, good local food and grounds surrounded by olive, almond and vine.

Next is just one night an the excellent small hotel on the edge of the Sierra de Cazorla - Hostel San Julian . This tremendous accommodation not only provides lovely rooms, cuisine and facilities but also views right across the Jaen Province

Finally the CT Los Pinos offers the basic comfortable facilities for resting & sleeping with easy access to most of our viewing points, via a short ride in the minibus. Apart from the wildlife this trip will be remembered forthis hotel's food, which is as varied as it is plentiful & delicious even for vegetarians.

What's been said...

The star of the trip was of course the Iberian Lynx! That was really something and what a beautiful place the Sierra de Andujar was too! Many, many thanks Julian.

Anders Magnesson

Jules, apologies, I have just realised that I have failed to thank you for another great trip to the Sierra de Andujar, with some great scenery, plus that all-important big tick (courtesy of Lynx Finder General - me!). After we left you, we took the road from Andujar to Jaen, don't know if you have ever used it, not marked on the map as being of importance, but it an excellent road, did Granada in no time - what a great city. Take care and see you end of April.

Graham & Agi Turner

Once again a brilliant trip - you were as usual brilliant, splendid birds (including several new ones for me), great group and outstanding scenery. Have provisionally booked off the days from work for the trip to the wolf watching - please can you let me know asap how much you are going to charge so that I can arrange finances, etc.

Aileen Bishop

Great trip in search of the Iberian Lynx I am quite aware that you need a lot of patience if you are going to see Lynx and when we did see them WOW (got to admit nice finding my own) a very enjoyable 5 days hope to see you again very soon.

Geoff Trigg

 

 

Cost £1390
Based on sharing a twin/double room.

Single Supplement - £110
Deposit - £300
Maximum Group Size - 6

Price Includes:

  • 8 nights accommodation with private facilities
  • All meals
  • All transport costs
  • Information pack
  • Daily check list
  • Use of field guides & maps

Price does not Include:

  • Flights to Malaga
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Extra food/drink to normal meal times
  • Travel & contents insurance
  • Items of personal nature
  • Tips/gratuities

Flights are not included in the prices quoted, however we are more than happy to help with finding suitable flights.

Train Travel - Train travel possible

27th Nov - 5th Dec 2017

(see icon guide)







Highlights -

  • Excellent chance of seeing the world’s rarest cat
  • One of Europe's most difficult mammals - Genet
  • Lammergeier, Spanish Imperial and possibly Greater Spotted Eagle
  • Otter, Spanish Ibex, Mouflon, Wild Boar and Red Squirrel
  • Coastal wetlands with innumerable waterbirds
  • Plains for bustards, sandgrouse and larks

Target Species:

  • Iberian Lynx
  • European Genet
  • River Otter
  • Red Fox
  • Wild Boar
  • Red Deer
  • Fallow Deer
  • Spanish Ibex
  • Moufflon
  • Red Squirrel
  • Schreiber's Bat
  • Daubenton's Bat
  • Noctule
  • Black-necked Grebe
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Great White Egret
  • White-headed Duck
  • Black Vulture
  • Spanish Imperial Eagle
  • Golden Eagle
  • Greater Spotted Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Hen Harrier
  • Goshawk
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Great Bustard
  • Common Crane
  • Red-knobbed Coot
  • Purple Swamphen
  • Slender-billed Gull
  • Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
  • Black-bellied Sandgrouse
  • Tawny Owl
  • Bluethroat
  • Calandra Lark
  • Lesser Short-toed Lark
  • Black Wheatear
  • Southern Grey Shrike
  • Azure-winged Magpie
  • Rock Sparrow
  • Hawfinch
  • Rock Bunting
 


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