dinsdag 24 januari 2012

2nd of January: Alhambra and Sierra de Andujar

2nd of January:

We had to get out of our beds very early because we had to be at the gate of the Alhambra at 8.00. It was already quite crowded in the dark and while waiting to enter the beautiful gardens of the palace I had some nice new species for the list already. I guess we can consider Redwings to be a good species for me in Spain since they only occur in low numbers here in winter. Several small groups flew by and landed in the trees on the palace ground. Furthermore, while walking towards the Palace I had Short-toed Treecreepers, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits and arriving at the Alcazaba a male Blue Rock Thrush was perched on the fort, watching the crowd getting bigger and bigger. We had tickets for a tour through the Palacio Nazares, the one and only palace in Spain where the creations of the Moors remained untouched by the Christians. It was impressive, seeing walls filled with Arabic symbols and words, that must have costs hundreds of slaves. What's also interesting about Granada is that the Moors stayed here until 1492, the same year in which Columbus discovered the Americas.
Yeah, they didn't build things entirely horizontal in that time.
Clear texting on the walls.
In many rooms the ceiling looked like this!
The sun slowly rising, ready to put glory on Granada! This photo was taken from the Alhambra itself.

After the visit to the Palacio Nazares we went to the Alhambra Generalife. During this walk I could add Crossbill, Grey Wagtails, both species of Crests, many (50+) Blackcaps, 2 Hawfinches to our list.
A view from the Generalife.

We were finished with the visit around 11.30 and soon we left Granada for our next destination: Sierra de Andujar. The main thing we saw during this drive were endless kilomtres of vineyards.... these vineyards however, were filled with Song Thrushes, Blackcaps and finches profiting from all the food (olives obviously) there.
Dreary weather + vineyards = :(

After Andujar things finally started to change and we began to see the beautiful typical Spanish scenery: Sierras with Holm Oaks, the land of the Imperial Eagle! We had an appartment at a complex called Los Pinos in Las Vinas in the middle of the Sierra de Andujar. It didn't take long before we heard the familiar sounds of the Azure-winged Magpies, always a pleasure! Long-tailed Tits and Great-spotted Woodpeckers  
could be added to our list as well. Our main goal here, in the Sierra de Andujar, was to see the Iberian Lynx, one of the rarest mammals of Europe!

So in the evening we left to the Rio Jandula to see if we could be lucky to see a Lynx! While we were waiting - with approximately 10 other (Spanish) Lynx-watchers - to see what there was to come, we had a Green Sandpiper and three Iberian Green Woodpeckers. When it was almost dark we heard something in the distance. After a few seconds we heard it again: this was cleary a calling Iberian Lynx! It seemed that two Lynxes were responding to each other, getting a bit rut probably. It was not a visual sighting as we hoped for, but it was at least something! Around 18.15 I said to my dad: Hey Dad, this seems like a perfect timing for an Eagle Owl to start calling! And as if the Eagle Owl heard me say this, it started calling! We even got views of the bird perched on a tree on a hill! Eventuelly two were calling, together with a Tawny Owl. These Eagle Owls were a fantastic ending of the day. 
Simply incredible.

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