In early May the drylands of Catalonia is teaming with birdsong and love is in the air. The Little Bustard is displaying among the flowering red Poppies while the Montague’s Harriers are circling the fields in search of nesting material. It seems every pile of rock has a pair of nesting Little Owls in it.
The five photographers group was enjoying the hides set up for them, getting brilliant shots of the different dryland species, morning and evening. In addition to the ones mentioned above the bee-eaters were staring to settle at the colony, giving us great bonus opportunities. A couple of the guys even got the stunning Roller, the nervous Spotted Cuckoo and the elusive Stone Curlew posing close by.
Our four days in the lowlands were spent with the castle town of Montsonis as our base – a stunning place in its’ own right with birds like the Bonelli’s Eagle and Oriol breeding nearby.
One of our target species on this trip was the charismatic Lammergeier, a bird with prehistoric appearance. This colourful Vulture is one of the rarest birds of prey in Europe but has its’ stronghold in the Pyrenees. Two days gave us great opportunities for flightshots, feeding and interaction.
In addition we got to witness the feeding frenzy of the Vultures. While the food was put out about 200 Griffon Vultures were circling the scene, waiting anxiously to get their piece. Eventually one bird landed on the ground and the rest fell like rags from the sky worried they would get a chunk of the meat. Our guide was not even finished feeding when the birds entered. Driving away, leaving us in the hides, he shook his head at the crazy Vultures. The next few minutes definitely gave us an experience of a lifetime. After 20 minutes it was all over and only bones were left – all ready for the Lammergeier.
In addition to Lammergeiers and Griffons we had four Egyptian and one Black Vulture, which is all the Vulture species in Europe.
I will have to thank my great group making this a memorable experience, and also the crew in Catalonia; Steve, Jordi B., Ramon and Jordi C.. Thank you for your hospitality and for making this a lifetime experience!If you would like to join me on a later safari to Catalonia and experience this spectacle for your self, please feel free to get in touch. I am already planning the 2012 program.