Spain: Doñana, Extremadura, Pyrenees

Panorama El Rocio

This page covers multiple trips in Spain, between 2004 and 2009, from the wetlands of the Doñana area in the south through the rocky Extremadura in western Spain to the mountains of the Pyrenees in the north. There is a separate page on whale watching at Tarifa.

Doñana National Park is located in Andalusia, and covers 543 km², of which 135 km² are a protected area. The park is an area of marsh, shallow streams, and sand dunes in Las Marismas, the Guadalquivir River Delta region where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The park, which has a biodiversity that is unique in Europe, contains a great variety of ecosystems and shelters wildlife including thousands of European and African migratory birds, fallow deer, Spanish red deer, wild boar, European badger, Egyptian mongoose, and endangered species such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and Iberian Lynx. We were guided around Doñana by the late John Butler, a man of encyclopaedic knowledge, a sharp eye and a great enthusiasm for the area and its wildlife. His guiding business is being continued by

Extremadura, in western Spain, is an important area for wildlife, particularly with the major reserve at Monfragüe, which has recently been recognized as a National Park. The area is famous for its raptors, and we were lucky to see the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Eagle Owl, The Griffon Vulture, the Monk Vulture and the Black Stork, all nesting, all in one afternoon. The best pictures can be from the top of the castle, where the vultures come sailing by, lazily, when the sun shines. We visited the area a few times, under the guidance of Patricio Pinilla, over the last couple of years and have been impressed each time with the majestic vultures, even when we had to sit in a small hide for many hours to finally get them before our lenses under the harsh midday sun. The birds didn’t see us, but they heard the clicking of the cameras and wouldn’t stay long. The Eagle Owl on the right, and another two close-ups included in the Lightroom Flash Gallery behind it, is Patricio's captive bird. The Flying Eagle Owls, however, are wild.

The Pyrenees offered the opportunity to see and photograph the rare Lammergeier. Around 100 pairs remain in the Pyrenees. Josele Saiz guided us to a quiet spot within picture taking distance of the wallcreeper and the vultures; Some pictures have been published on