Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Newsletter March 2017

Newsletter March 2017.

March has been a month of contrasting weather, with temperatures stretching from heights of 25'C when we are basking in the sunshine and considering our Spring planting to the depths of -7'C within a few days when the ground is hard and tracking is difficult. We welcome summer migrants as they start to arrive and display over this month, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear my first cuckoo call as early as 20th March this year.

However the weather took a chilly turn just as Keith and Alan arrived into Asturias airport and certainly the start of their Watching for Wolves tour produced some cold conditions for viewing. They were able to see some excellent fresh wolf tracks on their first wolf watch of 2nd March which made the brisk, early-morning start even more worthwhile. Good views of stonechat, woodlark, Dartford warbler and the local white storks on their nests proved fascinating too, but the highlight of this first full day of their tour was the opportunity to watch a wildcat stalking prey at close quarters before it darted off into the forest, unsuccessful on this occasion.

A family party of wild boar  were observed during the evening wolf watch on Friday 3rd, when the unusual behaviour of several stags running as if being chased through the woods very close to John, Keith and Alan gave credence to the feeling that wolf was not far away.


Later in the evening several roe deer made an appearance, but the wolf was elusive on this watch. During the Friday's visit to Villafafila, marsh, hen and Montague's Harriers were all seen along with red kite, lapwing, avocet, black-winged stilt, greylag geese, wigeon, pochard, mallard, teal, pintail, shellduck , crested lark and Keith's favourite the shoveller duck.

The great bustards were displaying in full force despite the strong wind and in total, over 300 of these amazing birds were seen by John, Keith and Alan.

The journey to Villafafila was broken at the Rio
Esla where Keith was delighted to photograph golden eagle and the river was alive with bird life, including two great white egrets, kingfisher, pochard, teal, mallard, chiffchaff, blue rock thrush, crag martin, barn swallow, common buzzard, cormorant, grey heron, raven, marsh harrier and red kite.

More wild boar were seen on Sunday,10 in total, plus many red deer stags and hinds as Keith and Alan could add red squirrel and long-tailed tit to their growing list.

The cold conditions braved at the start of the tour dispelled by Monday 6th and a fabulous day started out with the best news! During a bright morning watch John, Keith and Alan were all able to enjoy incredible views of a light-coloured wolf as it loped along the track at times with a slight limp and remaining well within everyone's view for several minutes.. As you will see from this video of John's, it then turns off into the heather and wags its tail as if greeting another wolf.  This clear view was treat enough for John, Keith and Alan as they congratulated themselves on such a good start to an exciting day. Certainly the visit to the Douro gorge was enjoyed in continued perfect conditions and no-one was disappointed with the sights on offer there. John, Keith and Alan were able to photograph and basically enjoy wonderful views of two golden eagles, Egyptian vulture, red billed chough, griffon vulture, crag martin, house martin, red kite, black kite plus  a flock of azure-winged magpies.  All this with the sound and movement of hundreds of bees  bringing the almond trees alive with the sound of their buzzing and their busy movement from blossom to blossom.

Alan's video of a natterjack toad was also relayed over dinner that evening along with the wolf video...what a successful day!

The last full day of the tour gave Keith and Alan the opportunity to explore local villages, including the atmospheric Santa Cruz de la Cuerregos with its wonderful ancient sweet chestnut trees displaying such intricate bark patterns.

Their list of sightings increased still further with good views of nuthatch, great tit, jay, red-legged partridge, crested tit, long-tailed tit, crossbill, robin, black redstart, corn bunting, Iberian grey shrike, blue tit, coal tit, rock bunting,goldfinch and rabbit and the Iberian water frogs could clearly be seen in all their variety of colours but all with their characteristic dorsal green stripe.

Elinor and her son Balthazar were decidedly unlucky with the weather conditions throughout their Watching for Wolves tour as it seemed to be persistently cold and damp, but they were always ready to go out and look for wolves and any signs of their presence.  Balthazar was delighted with his first sighting of a wolf track and I hope he managed to carry this treasure back to Kent in one piece.

Scat too was seen although this thankfully was not collected. Our hopes for a wolf sighting were high as everyone noted the presence of red and black kites and ravens near our viewpoint, but visibility was poor and the rain began in greater earnest. We were pleased to watch two Iberian hares during the morning's watch and we were able to stop to notice a little owl on a telegraph pole on the way to our evening's wolf watch.

The rain cleared at the right times for Elinor, Balthazar and John to get good sights of griffon vulture, red-billed chough,white stork, red-rumped swallow, hoopoe and crag martin during a day visit to the Douro gorge in Portugal after enjoying good views of a female hen harrier and several red deer on the morning wolf watch. The rain persisted however and the evening's wolf watch had to be from the Landrover, but we were delighted to listen to a blackbird singing across the vista while we all could see a cuckoo atop a nearby pine tree; a very special sight.


During our drive back to dinner that night as the darkness closed in, Balthazar spotted several red deer hinds just to the left of us, and we enjoyed some long, close views of these elegant creatures before they turned to return to the security of the woodland. Previously we had been lucky to observe two Iberian hares chasing each other in a mating ritual in the road directly in front of us.  How lucky we are here to be able to stop and spend time watching such behaviour without the concern of too much traffic to disturb our view!


 At the bridge en route to Villafafila Elinor had a quick glimpse of an otter and John saw a kingfisher before moving on to appreciate the interesting sight of the lekking of the great bustards. Elinor, Balthazar and John also saw Montague's harrier, marsh harrier,lapwing, red kite, black kite and crested lark during the visit that day plus this quick glimpse of a good looking fox carrying something in its mouth.


The next day had clearer patches and crested tit, linnet and goldfinch were three of the species Elinor and Balthazar enjoyed getting into their view, plus a great sight of a short-toed eagle landing on a nearby telegraph pole.


Each day had so much and despite the weather Elinor and Balthazar left with quite a collection of new and wonderful sightings and memories of this totally unique area. This final evening's wolf watch gave up something very special. As the weather cleared for a spell we were all watching intently and it was one of those very special moments when everyone is totally gripped by concentration, almost willing something to emerge! Just on eight o'clock Elinor, friend Inaki, Balthazar and myself immediately looked up from our scopes as we had all heard a howl;  not too distant but only too fleeting. This was not echoed by any other sound, in fact the whole wood seemed totally silent as we drew breath and realised that we had experienced that iconic sound of a wolf howl as the evening was closing around us. A wonderful finale!

I leave you with a little indulgence of my own; every March the neighbouring village of San Vitero hosts a donkey festival to celebrate the traditional Aliste donkey which is still a vital part of life here.This photo depicts four likely characters from this month's festival, against a backdrop of a clear blue sky which we enjoyed on the first weekend of  the Spring equinox. Along with the sound of the cuckoo, this heralds the arrival of Spring to this incredible area of Spain; the Sierra de la Culebra.

Margaret. March 2017.  All photos and videos taken during March 2017 by John.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Newsletter January 2017

Newsletter January 2017.

We have been so fortunate this month to enjoy such excellent views of wolves in bright, sunny, albeit cold conditions. 

The lake at Sanabria has been frozen. A beautiful place but very cold this January.

John is out watching for wolves and other wildlife most days, including Christmas Day! The following video captures the moment when an alpha male marks its territory.

With no heat haze or heavy vegetation to hinder viewing, this month's photos and videos have been excellent! John has been able to share several of these moments already on our Wild Wolf Experience Facebook page. The winter months can provide wonderful viewing opportunities of the wolves as this video testifies.

Christmas Day 2015 of course gave us those wonderful moments with the full pack caught by John on video, but the view for Christmas Day 2016 was also very special, if much smaller! While exploring some local caves with friends Wil and Puk post Christmas lunch, John found a Garden Dormouse - a very rare sight.  Indeed its status is registered as "vulnerable".

As you can see from the photo I include for reference this is a very pretty creature rarely seen as it is extremely nocturnal. The specimen John, Wil and Puk saw was on a ledge under a nest in a cave entrance. This was a very special treat indeed.

We have also been treated to some memorable moments watching herds of stags grazing and play-jousting in the white frosts of morning; sights which have helped make those early morning January starts so worthwhile.

Roe bucks are in their velvet now as we can see from this lovely video taken here this month by John.

There have been plenty of Iberian Grey Shrikes present in the Sierra de la Culebra this winter.

The return of the white storks to their traditional nest sites is always cheering and many locals welcome them as harbingers of Spring. Usually this occurs in February but I was astonished to see a returning white stork on an old established nest in Villardeciervos on January 11th.  It has now been joined by a small number of intrepid individuals at other sites, but this return is extremely early in the year.  I am now already looking forward to February when they return in greater numbers and the joyous bill-clacking of storks reunited with their partners echoes from almost every vantage point.

Jon and Ixi were delighted to be able to take photos of wolf on various occasions this month, experimenting with their new camera and wearing their new Wild Wolf Experience T shirts!

January concluded with an incredibly close encounter between John and an otter.  During an afternoon walk, John and the otter met on some sunny rocks as John had obviously disturbed the otter's sunning session on the rocks warmed by the winter sunshine. As the otter took refuge in the water, John was able to shoot this lovely video footage in clear, mid-afternoon sunlight.  This video has proved very popular with our Facebook followers and I make no apology for reproducing it here also.

So January is now behind us and we have escaped the snowy, wet conditions experienced by much of the rest of Spain. On this, the last day of January 2017, the dawn rises on this unique, rather special area after another month of wonderful wildlife sightings I am happy to share with you.

Margaret. January 2017.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Newsletter November 2016

November / December 2016 Newsletter.

November continued with such glorious clear blue skies and excellent visibility with wolf and wildlife sightings offered in these conditions, beginning with wolf on 1st November  and ending satisfyingly cyclical, with more impressive wolf videos taken by John on 31st November. I know many of you have enjoyed these sightings posted by John on the Wild Wolf Experience Facebook page more or less as they happen. Above is a photo of an alpha male carrying the head of a deer in its mouth, taken by John during November here in the Sierra de la Culebra.

 I also attach below a video taken this month by John of a female Iberian wolf carrying food from a kill.

We did experience a wet spell of cold and misty weather for a few days in late November which just happened to coincide with Martyn and Rab's Watching for Wolves tour. They exchanged a wet Heathrow for a scenic snowy Asturias which degenerated into heavy rain for their journey down from Asturias to the Sierra de la Culebra on 24th November.

Their first morning wolf watch was cold but thankfully a little drier and everyone was able to watch some impressive stags plus several red kites, roe deer, crossbill and a peregrine drying out on a rock. 

In the same area John, Martyn and Rab were able to locate several very fresh wolf tracks.

The presence of many griffon vultures and 30/40 red kites observed during the evening of 25th provoked interest but while watching intently only red deer were seen, plus a fleeting wild boar running past the deer in the encroaching dusk. Such wet conditions do not deter the otter and Martyn and John had a brief distant view of an otter but were unable to pick up the animal again during a day full of good sights.

Otter tracks.
Rab was able to join John and Martyn in a longer view of a kingfisher whilst also seen that day were crag martin, great white egret, pochard, wigeon, gadwall, mallard and little grebe, while the morning's earlier watch had offered up seven red deer, crested tit, short-toed treecreeper, blue tit, great tit, coal tit and Iberian chiff-chaff.

On the evening of a wet 26th November, Martyn in particular was feeling a little despondent, with only one full day left of the tour and having just dropped and broken his binoculars, plus his home football team of Tottenham Hotspur had lost to Chelsea, so a tonic was required...but who could have imagined such a fabulous final day?


The morning of 27th dawned clearer and brighter and John, Martyn and Rab were not long into their wolf watch when John spotted a male wolf moving along the front of the forest then Rab got onto it. Martyn could not place it but ten minutes later John then spotted a female going along the same track and this time thankfully Martyn and Rab both had good views for several minutes. After a most enjoyable trip over the magnificent Douro Gorge into Portugal where golden eagle was spotted flying over the ridge along with good close sightings of numerous griffon vultures, the evening wolf watch offered John, Martyn and Rab tremendous views of the female  wolf this time running very fast through the short heather possibly chasing a hare or rabbit only to  settle in the heather to recover, giving excellent stationary views for everyone.

John was lucky enough to be in place just after the alpha male had made a successful kill, probably  a wild boar, and in this video we can watch the growing young cub of from this year vying for some of this food, and the interplay between the alpha male and the youngster.

We are nearing the end of our busiest year yet here at Wild Wolf Experience and John and I can reflect on so many satisfying moments sharing the richness of this area with so many of you throughout 2016.  We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a happy, healthy 2017.

Margaret. Dec 2016.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Newsletter October 2016

Newsletter October 2016

October colours are resplendent in the sharp autumn light.  We have enjoyed some lengthy wolf sightings in the variety of weather conditions this autumn month traditionally offers us, in mist, rain, but overall in clear sunshine without heat haze or undue vegetation interference.  John is now regularly putting his videos and photos directly onto the Wild Wolf Experience Facebook page almost as they happen and I know many of you really appreciate this.

Our first Watching for Wolves tour of October welcomed Adam and Pamela to the Sierra de la Culebra - one of the few parts of the world not previously visited by this well-traveled couple!  However, in all their travels, grey wolf had eluded them hence this tour.  Fresh wolf scat was seen on their first afternoon on 16th October and further evidence of being in wolf territory was noticed in other areas during tracking over the next two days.  Tracks of any species other than the hooves of wild boar and deer were very difficult to locate owing to the incredibly hard, dry ground.  During the tour, John concentrated on one area of wolf territory, hoping that Adam and Pamela's quest could be fulfilled here in the Sierra de la Culebra.  Several grand stags were seen with strong looking hinds in tow, plus clear views of wild boar rooting in the nearby fields. Roe deer barks were also heard.  The presence of black and griffon vulture provided a signal that a kill may be in the woods and we could all spend time watching three hen harriers gracefully quartering over the heather along with spotting rock bunting, Iberian green woodpecker, and a lively Iberian hare along the road.


 A large ladder snake was out sunning at Cional as Adam, Pamela and John were walking around the lake and this was topped by an encounter with a Lataste's viper the next day, where no-one wanted to get too close!


But for the first five wolf watches the wolf was not showing and excitement/tension/even resignation began to feature in our conversations. But on a clear Wednesday morning, October 19th, Adam and Pamela saw their target; a species which proved so elusive at other venues.  A large Iberian wolf suddenly came into Adam's view as it sniffed and sauntered across a ploughed field, then trotted away along the forest track, stopping occasionally to sniff the air or even to lie down, before going into the nearby wood. But what a fabulously clear and lengthy sight! This was certainly a memorable and exciting day for Adam and Pamela as they were treated to another good wolf sighting that evening of Wednesday 19th, when an individual emerged at 19:15 and we were all able to watch it for 45 minutes.  Adam and Pamela's final wolf watch, on the morning of 20th October, provided shorter views of a lone wolf deeper into the forest, but what wonderful wolf watches! Adam and Pamela could return to their homes and family with mission certainly well accomplished!

The next day, 21st October, brought Graeme and Rhona back to the Sierra de la Culebra after their visit during May/June 2015. Their first wildlife sighting this year was certainly a dramatic one as they found themselves very close to a large Lataste's viper down our well!


Wet and foggy conditions did not deter Graeme and Rhona and certainly the wolf tracks they found the next day were fresh, which was very exciting. At 10:00 on the morning of 23rd October we were all able to follow an alpha female wolf which had obviously just fed, as it moved slowly along the forest track to be lost amongst the pines until Rhona spotted it again further out to the heather.  Both Graeme and Rhona were delighted to improve upon their more fleeting view from last year's visit, and were determined to keep looking at every opportunity the inclement weather afforded. We were also interested on one occasion to observe a large black vulture for quite a long stretch of time as it lurched about ungainly on the ground by the pine tree.

This attitude lasted until the very final moment of their last wolf watch, on the evening of 25th October. In the encroaching dusk Rhona's attention was drawn to a shape emerging onto our track from the pines which skirt the track edge, and it was a wolf! The dark shape moved soundlessly across the track to become lost in the darkness of the wooded hillside, but what a fitting finale to Graeme and Rhona's series of wolf watches with us!

A day visit to the Douro Gorge gave us two golden eagles, griffon vultures and crag martins with three azure-winged magpies in woodland on the journey back.  Tuesday 25th October was a better day for walking with bright sunshine and no rain or fog and the lake walk at Cional offered up some wonderful sights of Dartford warbler, Iberian green woodpecker, stonechat, grey heron, Iberian chiff-chaff, grey wagtail, kingfisher, blue tit, grebe, cormorant, black redstart, red kite and goshawk. 

As Graeme and Rhona returned to Hitchin, Chris was flying in from Alice Springs, Australia for his Watching for Wolves tour. A visit to Villafafila gave Chris good views of 50+ great bustards - a first on his first morning! Also seen here were shelduck, shoveller, tufted duck, teal, gadwall, wood sandpiper, lapwing, red kite, hen harrier and marsh harrier.  On his first full day in the Sierra de la Culebra, Chris was able to see very fresh wolf scat in a promising area where red kites, griffon and black vultures were much in evidence.  John was able to video this black vulture sunning and preening itself on a treetop

They also were able to record this American mink  jumping from rock to rock at Cional lake.


But the best was yet to come! It was soon after scopes were set up during the evening wolf watch of 28th October that John noticed a female wolf trotting along a track. As Chris enjoyed this, his first lupine view, the wolf turned to walk through the heather which afforded them even better views.  This female wolf seemed to be moving with a purpose until Chris and John noticed a change in her pace and body language.  After slowing to a walk her ears went against her head and her tail began to wag enthusiastically as she greeted her two cubs who emerged from the side of the heather.  From then on, throughout the remaining daylight-to-dusk- viewing time John and Chris could watch the interaction between these three pack members. Please check out our Wild Wolf Experience Facebook page for the excellent video of this event. What an amazing opportunity and Chris felt this result truly justified his long journey to get here.

The next day saw temperatures rise to 24'C and John and Chris spent much of the time tracking around the local villages where locals were making use of the pleasant weather to prepare their firewood for the oncoming winter. Fresh wolf tracks were seen, along with blue tit, great tit, dunnock, Iberian water frogs and yet another Lataste's viper, which was aiming to make use of this warm weather, just like the locals. In this photograph you can see the piles of firewood behind Chris, ready for sorting in time for less welcoming temperatures!

The trip to the Douro gorge gave Chris and John excellent golden eagle and griffon vulture sightings along with crag martins, but Chris was particularly delighted to see his first woodlark plus Sardinian warbler. The evening wolf watch meant that Chris had his first view of wild boar which was seen moving along the nearby firebreak and then heading off through the low heather, and John saw a badger later that night.  So  various interesting species, including red fox and several good views of red deer, had been seen throughout that day and this pattern just didn't seem to stop! On the way to the airport Chris was delighted to spend some time watching two otters and one American mink plus some extremely close views of great bustards in flight, on his truly memorable return journey.

So an eventful month busy as ever and John has been delighted to share such a variety of wildlife sightings with clients throughout October. From the video of wolf seen by John  on the 1st October to the otters and mink with Chris on the 31st, there has been an amazing array of experiences to share this month in this area of Spain so rich in its biodiversity.

Margaret . ( All photos and videos in this blog entry were taken in the Sierra de la Culebra in the wild by John during October 2016)

Monday, 3 October 2016

Review; Summer 2016.

The summer of 2016 has been stupendous in so many ways for us here at Wild Wolf Experience.  We have had our busiest summer yet encompassing successful lynx, bear and wolf tours. As well as meeting several newcomers to Wild Wolf Experience,we welcomed back Eddie and Tina for another wolf/birding week, Pernilla and Mikael for a wolf/bear tour after their successful Looking for Lynx tour two years ago, Keith and Rosemary who enjoyed a fabulous Looking for Lynx tour with us this year after seeing wolf with Wild Wolf Experience some years ago, and Linda who has just completed her third successful Watching for Wolves tour with us. John and I appreciate the contacts and friendships that build up through such return visits and we thank you for your confidence in us.  We always do our utmost to provide our clients with memorable wildlife experiences during all three of our tours.

Migrants were arriving and clearly displaying throughout April with first sightings of Montague's harrier on 4th and bee-eaters on 24th April.

Geoff and Anne, our first clients from the 
Channel Islands, were straight into the action on 6th April with super views of over 200 great bustards at Villafafila, plus goldcrest, Iberian chiff-chaff, black-winged stilt, avocet, shoveller, lesser kestrel, short-toed and booted eagles, black and red kites, Montague's and marsh harriers, serin and stonechat - all before lunch on the first day!

We spent that evening locating red and roe deer in the telescopes to the accompaniment of cuckoo and scop's owl.

A change of viewing site owing to misty conditions on the morning of 7th April was very fortunate for John and Geoff as their second site allowed them both to watch three wolves, albeit some distance away, for about 15 ,minutes, beginning at 08:45.  Further tracking revealed some very fresh wolfscat close by.  Unfortunately Anne wasn't there to  see these three predators and although she made sure not to miss one minute of the next watches, the wolves were proving elusive...until Geoff and Anne's determination was rewarded on the morning of 9th April with the stunning sight at 07:45 of three wolves chasing six deer right across the valley.  What a treat to watch! But this was not the final lupine encounter for Geoff and Anne.  Despite encroaching rainclouds, they were out with John in the early morning of 11th April and were again excited to be able to watch three wolves from 07:30 until 07:50 until bad visibility from heavy showers hampered any further sightings.

Notable birds seen during some very pleasant walks around the quaint villages and on tracks through the park include skylark, woodlark, crested lark, siskin, rock bunting, Dartford warbler, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, longtailed tit, crested tit, robin, blackcap, nuthatch, firecrest, peregrine falcon,hoopoe, red-rumped swallow, short-toed treecreeper and Iberian grey shrike while mammals other than wolf were Iberian hare, red deer, roe deer and fox against stunning sunsets.  A walk between Villardeciervos and Cional garnered some clearly recent tracks of wolf, otter, wild boar and deer.

The river Duero was in full flood when Geoff, Anne and John enjoyed a day visit to the magnificent gorge, appreciating good views of Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture, black stork,red-billed chough,blue rock thrush,sub-Alpine warbler and a superb golden eagle display.  It was a treat to sample the serene atmosphere at the old clapper bridge which reaches over a river at present awash with delicate white flowers. This place will feature highly amongst the memories Geoff and Anne take away with them. 

"Now that we are back home and have gathered our thoughts we must congratulate John and yourself on organising such a wonderful experience for us. We really enjoyed all of the spectacular wild life that we saw and the visits to the little villages were very interesting. Being able to sample local foods at lunchtime was very good since it was something that would not have been possible without John’s help. The trip down the Douro gorge was spectacular and, once again the organisation and scheduling of the birds was admirable. The hotel was very well situated for the various observation sites and provided comfortable accommodation and enjoyable dining
Thank you once again for making our trip so enjoyable and we look forward to seeing you again in the future.
                       Anne and Geoff . April 2016."

Further memories were created with Geoff and Anne during what we thought was going to be a quiet wolfwatch on the evening of 9th April. The obvious tense behaviour of four stags alert in the heather before racing full pelt into the relative safety of the forest, alerted our attention and at 21:00 we stiffened as the sound of a lone wolf howling reached our ears.  A little later, there was a response from nearer to our viewpoint, this being howls from several wolves which were repeated from further afield as dusk enveloped the valley. Such an evening indeed creates lifelong memories.

At Villafafila,Joe and Sharon too saw the great bustards, plus cattle egret, spoonbill, corn bunting ,wheatear, shelduck and coot with bee-eater and blue rockthrush at Rio Esla. Migrants were starting to arrive each day here in the Sierra de la Culebra and by the end of April Joe and Sharon were treated to many displaying species, including hoopoe, Bonelli's warbler, Dartford and sub-Alpine warbler, crossbill, cuckoo, short-toed treecreeper, nuthatch, black redstart and alpine swift.

After this Watching for Wolves tour Joe and Sharon set off to spend a few days in the interesting and picturesque town of Salamanca, only two hours from here, thereby finishing off what .proved to be a fascinating Spanish holiday.

The pattern of migrant arrivals continued during Eddie and Tina's tour and on the very first morning they enjoyed spotting sparrowhawk, Eurasian cuckoo, black kite, red kite, booted and short-toed eagles, buzzard, common kestrel, and stonechat plus the arrival of swifts flying round the hotel. Golden oriole was seen on three consecutive days 13th and 14th May, as was Bonelli's warbler.

A chilly 13th May also gave up Iberian green woodpecker,jay, woodlark, black kite and nightingale while whitethroat, great spotted woodpecker, Dartford warbler,bee-eater and sub-Alpine warbler could be added to Eddie's list by the end of 14th May. Some over attentive bees did not dampen the spirits during a walk at Cabanas de Aliste where along with good sightings of golden oriole, two golden eagles were seen soaring overhead only 30 metres above us. All this after a morning watching thirteen wild boar. On the day visit to Portugal and the Douro gorge, John, Eddie and Tina were able to watch Egyptian vulture on the nest,griffon vulture,crag martin and alpine swift in a day full of viewing opportunities.                                                                                                                                                                                              Everyone was impressed at John's ability to photograph  Alpine swift on the wing.

A feature of Kim and Nick's Watching for Wolves tour was the close view and photographic opportunity of a large male wild boar, quite an experience for all! We have certainly had good views of wild boar this summer.

This is the time of year here when the wild flower meadows are at their best and Kim and Nick enjoyed the relaxation and diversification of flora and fauna in such unspoilt areas.

On the morning of 24th June, John and Janet were treated to good views of a lone wolf walking across a ploughed field in the distance. Enough to whet their appetites for even better views! Keen birders, during their 4 night Watching for Wolves tour they notched up well over 100 bird species!

Deepak and Olivia arrived on 29th June and Olivia in particular was determined to see her first wolf. Determination is part but not all of wolf sightings of course, but we were pleased that she was rewarded with a good, clear view of a pale-pelted wolf loping along the track before diverting through the low heather at 08:00 on 30th June. On that successful morning watch, they also saw red deer, roe deer and wild boar.

The unseasonable intense heat of this August 2016 made sightings difficult as the wolves were keeping further into the shade of the forest for longer, but as September evolved a more autumnal feel to the air in morning and evening greatly increased the opportunity for good sightings, and what a successful month September has been for the wolf watchers with us! The cubs have emerged from the various dens and Linda, on her third Watching for Wolves tour with us, saw wolf on five of her seven days here, starting with the first morning.

Some striking sunsets and sunrises provide perfect photo opportunities in this most photogenic part of  Spain and Linda enjoyed making the most of this with her photographic skills.  Along with friends Terry and Ros, John and Linda enjoyed a wonderful morning boat trip courtesy of Aherca.com, where the morning mist cleared and rutting red deer and peregrine falcon were among the wildife sights enjoyed as they visited inlets and bays otherwise inaccessible by car or foot.
 Linda also enjoyed a visit to Sanabria where the imposing castle and stunning lakeside views skirted by a dramatic skyline of mountain peaks, all combine to make one feel very small in an area of such presence and atmosphere.

August/September is also a very promising time for bear sightings and our first Browsing for Bears tour during these months was with Pernilla and Mikael from Sweden,

followed by Neil and Maureen from Scotland. As well as excellent bear sightings,the agility of the chamois could be seen on almost vertical slopes.

 Close views of griffon vulture against such a magnificent backdrop were tremendous!

The weather is always a determining factor in this mountainous area of Spain, but this September viewing conditions proved excellent and our tours enjoyed wonderful views of bears, as detailed on our website.Coming from the Highlands of Scotland, Neil appreciated the stunning mountainous views, feeling like a home from home.

Both tours were able to watch several individual bears for a good length of time feeding on the Alpine buckthorn berries on the mountain slopes.

Earlier in the year, during May, John took Karen and Elaine to Asturias on the first part of their combined Bear/Wolf tour and in Asturias the weather was less welcoming.

Luckily both Karen and Elaine were prepared for all conditions and their perseverance paid dividends with excellent sightings of six individual bears , followed by good views of wolf and wild boar during their time here in the Sierra de la Culebra.

John was lucky to escape the dreadful rainstorms we experienced here in the Sierra de la Culebra in the week beginning 13th April and he also counted himself fortunate then to welcome Keith and Rosemary - wolf-watchers with us in 2013 - to begin their Looking for Lynx tour in the sunshine of the Sierra de Andujar. John, Keith and Rosemary enjoyed good views of wild boar,blue rock thrush, Spanish ibex, Sardinian warbler and moufflon on 15th April, their first full day, plus greater mouse-eared and Daubentin's bats.

Three magnificent Spanish imperial eagles started 16th April off well and they went on to watch bee-eater, griffon vulture, black vulture, woodchat shrike, Iberian grey shrike, cuckoo, hoopoe, corn bunting and fallow deer until the evening watch gave Keith and Rosemary their first views of Iberian lynx.  An adult and a semi-adult could be seen walking along the ridge of the hillside to the accompanying calls of the azure-winged magpies. A large fire salamander was a treat to see on the morning of 17th April but the main event of the day which outshone some wonderful imperial eagle displays, was their view of a large Iberian lynx which John first spotted whilst scouting around further down the hill.  He ran up to Keith and Rosemary and they managed to get to where this magnificent specimen was sauntering toward the bridge of the hill, marking territory as it went along. 

A stunning and satisfying finale to a fabulous tour in a beautiful area of Spain. We were delighted that Keith and Rosemary chose to travel with Wild Wolf Experience again, and enjoyed renewing their acquaintance with such a fulfilling tour.

"Hi Margaret and John

Firstly a very big thank you to John for making our trip to Andujar so memorable.  What a stunning area, excellent game viewing and very comfortable accommodation.  I can't believe we were so lucky to see such a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles.  We really appreciate John's expertise and look forward to seeing his photos and videos.        

                                                 Rosemary.  April 2016."

So, a summer of success and great tour experiences, with the only thing lacking being the monthly Newsletters.  However, now that the new website is up and running, thanks to the expertise and patience of Matthew Drake of My Silver Tree, I am happy to respond to the various requests for the monthly Newsletter to be reinstated here, and I look forward to reporting at the end of October on this blog once again. For more up to date happenings, please keep checking the "Latest News " section of the website and of course, our Wild Wolf Experience Facebook page for some fantastic photos and videos all taken by John in the area he loves.

Margaret. October 2016.