While the southern landscapes in Spain – like the Estremadura – are among the most popular photo destinations on the Iberian Peninsula, the mountains in the north, like the Picos De Europa, are largely unknown to many bird photographers.
On my travels to Spain mountainous birds of the Hochgebirge had been too short. They were at the center of a birding trip this time. The target species were: bearded vulture Yellow-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), (Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus), Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) and Citril Finch (Serinus citrinella).
During a break at one of the numerous clear streams I hear a wonderful melodic bird song. I quickly set up my mobile camouflage tent. This is a converted camping landruiser. I slowly approach the song. Suddenly a yellowish-green bird flies back and forth restlessly. He sings down from the top of a pine tree. Then he sings again from a nearby blackberry bush. I have to sort my bird song memories a bit. I quickly conclude that the little singer is a male Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta). Unfortunately, the bird so frantically changes its perches, that at first it is impossible to photograph him. In order to lure the Melodious Warbler to my proximity for a longer period of time, I play my tape with bird songs. The song of a supposed competitor lets the bird land in a bush just a few meters away. The Melodious Warbler sings from his full throat to expel the competitor.
After just a few hikes, I am almost overwhelmed by the beauty of the mountains just only a few hundred meters from the mountain station of the cable car. Everywhere, streams flow through the meadows, springs emerge from the humid slopes and become impressive streams with waterfalls and rapids. In some places the magnificent mountain world is reflected in the calm water of lakes. The hikes lead me through different valleys, over plateaus and mountain ridges. Idyllically, small lakes lie under the brim of snow-capped peaks. In spring the weather in the Sierra is very changeable and damp. Several times a day heavy rain falls, between which the sun shines again and again from a bright blue sky.
Everywhere, from the tops of bushes, boulders and other elevated sites singing Dunnocks (Prunella modularis) and Rock Buntings (Emberiza cia) can be spotted. In the vicinity of water, Water Pipits (Anthus spinoletta), like the Melodious Warbler, are attracted with the help of a tape closer to the camera. In addition, White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) and Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) can be photographed. A very good place to do this is near Potes on the river Deva. Directly at the parking area of a hotel, the White-throated Dipper can be beautifully photographed.
A pair of White-throated Dipper is so busy with the feeding of their young, that I can approach them without camouflage to photo-distance. I just walk down from the parking lot to the river. After some time I find out where the nest of the White-throated Dipper lies. The birds fly with food in the beak through a small waterfall and return a short time later with empty beak again, A safer hiding place for the brood can hardly be found. If you visit the Estremadura you should take a few days on your way back to the Picos de Europa, which is a varied and very interesting one. The motive diversity is very large and many animals can be photographed without special camouflage.
The starting point for the trip was the well-known town of Fuente Dé. Driving the Liébana Valley on the CA-185 you pass Potes and eventually arrive Fuente Dé. The idea was to find accommodation near the cable car in Fuente Dé. If the conditions were good enough, I would go on the mountain at every opportunity to go to the peaks from there. If I were struggling with rain or rainfall, I would be able to do birdwatching in the valleys and forests.
Please keep in mind, that some physical condition is required, if you begin climb into the impressive, steep limestone mountain with photo luggage and food in the rucksack. The best time to visit Picos De Europa is from the beginning of April to the autumn. Snow is expected until the end of April. The days around Easter and the spanish summer holidays should definitely be avoided as the mountains are quite overrun. Good and cheap accommodation is found in many villages. Many accommodations remain closed until mid-May, however, as the peak season begins. There are partly well-equipped campsites throughout the area. For the hikes solid footwear is indispensable. Warm upper clothing should always be in the luggage, also on sunny days.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds not only for the Western Palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds were very successful. The nice images you find in the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if bird-lens.com could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.