TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Spanish Pyrenees June '03


Leaders:
John Muddeman & Mike Crewe

As the first co-promotion trip between The Travelling Naturalist and Limosa in the Spanish Pyrenees, the result was terrific. In particular, despite (atypical) boiling hot weather for much of the time, the excellent choice of sites by Mike and in particular the resilience of the group and their ability to switch to all aspects of natural history were very much appreciated by the leaders and made for a far more exciting time, especially given how quiet and tricky to see many of the smaller birds were.

Also, seeing the leaders dashing around trying to photograph as much as possible within the limits of leading may have been an unusual sight, but as hoped, helped us enormously to identify a good number of the plants and especially butterflies and insects we saw, including a number of species new to all. Indeed, confirmation of a few has only been possible after return and if things appear in the text which you don't remember from the time, then that's probably the reason why!

We sincerely hope you had a wonderful holiday and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Our very best wishes, John Muddeman & Mike Crewe

Saturday 21st June

We arrived to a Bilbao under a blazing sun and in sticky heat, setting off after finally organising the vehicles and headed east and then south past Pamplona. Few birds were noted en route, though as we got closer to the Hecho Valley, a few Red and Black Kites appeared, with the extraordinary blue-green colour of the water in the Embalse de Yesa also calling for attention. A quick stop was also called for beside Hecho, where both Egyptian Vultures and Red Kites circled low overhead.

After arrival at the delightful and environmentally-friendly hotel, a few of us were drawn outside by the stunning views to the rocky peaks above dense forest surrounding us and looked for a few birds. Yellow-billed Choughs played over the ridges while no less than two different Lammergeiers passed among the multiple Griffon Vultures before we adjourned for a delicious dinner at 8. What a start!

Sunday 22nd June

We dropped down the valley from the hotel, stopping shortly afterwards near Siresa when a Wryneck was sitting on a wire! We pulled off only to find a family party feeding discretely in bushes near the road and eventually got good views of the calling male perched out in the open. A couple of buntings dropping into the box scrub turned out to be Yellowhammers, at surprising low altitude, while a fine male Red-backed Shrike also posed out in the open to be savoured. A further brief stop lower in the valley was also called for given a large group of Red and Black Kites feeding in roadside fields.

Pushing on, we climbed up the adjacent parallel valley via Jaca, finally reaching slightly cooler conditions around the Coll du Somport, having accidentally taken the brand new 15km tunnel uniting Spain and France! We parked by the Astún ski resort and walked around the alpine meadows studded with flowers, where thousands of Heath Spotted Orchids were present on one side and other flowers and several butterflies, including delightful Silver-studded Blues kept us busy . Birds were relatively few, but a family of Grey Wagtails fed on a stream under part of the ski resort, a smart male Black Redstart sang occasionally and fed from the buildings, and a few Crag Martins also floated around, their nests bizarrely plastered to some metal loops hanging from overhangs and almost free-hanging.

Given the intense sun, the small streams bordering the meadows were packed with interest, including Common Frogs, Common Wall and Iberian Rock Lizards where there was more rocky cover, plus several efts of Pyrenean Brook Salamander in one tiny stream. On the grassy slopes Water Pipits were collecting and carrying food to their hungry brood and a couple of Northern Wheatears were present, the male singing from ski lift cables.

The very warm conditions were good for insects, including a few male Broad-bodied Chasers which patrolled over some water alive with tadpoles, a few Large Red Damselflies put in a discreet appearance and a freshly emerged Purple-edged Copper clung tenaciously to the head of an orchid spike.

We continued back in heat up to the Puerto de Somport, where we ate lunch on a raised knoll which caught a refreshing breeze in the heat and had super views among Livelong Saxifrages, Frog Orchids and even a Field Gentian or two. A Tree Pipit sang off to one side and a few choughs passed over at height.

Up at the Candanchú ski resort, a short stroll revealed a singing Quail (!) which remarkably subsequently flew twice allowing all to see it. Butterflies included several impressive Clouded Apollos, while a few birds including shreeping Rock Sparrows, Yellow-billed Choughs and Northern Wheatears. Some long range spotting back by the vehicles revealed a couple of very distant Pyrenean Chamois perched on top of the highest crags, and an admittedly very distant Golden Eagle a bonus.

Our final stop was on flower-rich slopes below a military installation, with superb Burnt-tip and Black Vanilla Orchids of most note, but also impressive spikes of Pyrenean Saxifrage and fine heads of Clustered Bellflower. A Firecrest and a couple of Crossbills also kept the group alert bird-wise, with a very pale-headed Short-toed Eagle perched on a pylon on the opposite side of the little valley a treat.

We were glad to get back to the hotel in the heat, the thermometer on the veranda showing 31ºC at 6:30 p.m.

Monday 23rd June

The pre-breakfast stroll was cool and small birds were out and about in moderate number, including several Crested Tits and a superb pair of Firecrests, but plants again naturally crept into the proceedings with several plants of the delightful Fringed Pink a full flower.

Our morning's destination was nearby Gabardito and a largely shaded walk through pine and beech-dominated forest. The variety of species was notable, from Short-toed Treecreeper, calling Goldcrest and Nuthatch by the car park, while as we walked, little groups of Lesser and Pyrenean Wintergreens, several spikes of the rare Red Helleborine, a small clump of Yellow Birdsnest, plus White and Dark Red Helleborines were present and admired, and a wide variety of butterflies, including numerous Black-veined and Wood Whites, various fritillaries including Pearl-bordered and plenty of Large Wall Browns kept us busy and on our toes.

As we climbed up, so the woodland thinned to reveal a high cliff in front, and after a short upward haul we reached a strategic watch-point where we sat to scan the cliffs. Several Crag Martins and Red-billed Choughs constantly flitted above us, keeping us alert, but only after some time did Mike's persistence and local knowledge pick out the unmistakable form of a beautiful Wallcreeper as it flitted across a chasm only to disappear as soon as the group tried to find it! However, after a patient wait, so the act was repeated, this time a calling male arrived, in response to which the female of the pair came off a presumed nest to receive food, then went back after a short sortie and a few wing-flicks! We sat, craning our necks upwards, sporadically watching repeats of the performance, though at one point both birds then hopped about on the rocks in view for several minutes. Although most interest was clearly on these birds, a short walk up to where the sun bathed the slopes revealed a couple of Apollos and numerous Large Wall Browns and Piedmont's Ringlets.

A late-ish lunch was taken in the shade of some trees, despite multiple butterflies and a few birds on our route back. Lunch was rounded off as a pair of Citril Finches came over calling but flew rapidly out of sight...

We dropped down through the woods, only to pause as we saw a couple of large fritillary butterflies on roadside flowers. As the first bus went round the corner, so the second found a superb Apollo drifting by, but the abundance of individuals and species found in a clearing by the first bus (quickly joined by the second!) was simply amazing. At least a dozen fritillaries, including Dark Green, High Brown and False Heath lead us a merry dance round the flowering thistle heads, with a few blues, various whites, Pearly Heath, Swallowtail and a stunning Southern White Admiral also all noted between pauses under the trees given the intense heat.

Finally dragging ourselves away and to try and keep as cool as possible, we headed up the valley into the Selva de Oza. A 'time out' was called for here by a bar under the shade of a huge beech tree, with several recently fledged Nuthatches overhead to boot. We rounded off by continuing up onto the track where the road simply ran our and into a high E-W valley. The wind was now quite strong, but not too much for half a dozen Egyptian Vultures, most of which were wandering around on the ground looking for food, but also spiralling up and passing over regularly. A couple of Northern Wheatears played hide and seek in the rocks, a Dunnock sang its ditty from a patch of scrub and a smart bright Yellowhammer sang seemingly stoically from the wire it was clinging to.

We dropped back down through a narrow and mercifully deeply shaded gorge, finally locating a Dipper on the river, and when we pulled into a wide area suitable for parking, bizarrely found a dead Black Woodpecker just off the roadside right by the first bus. Fortunately, the Dipper (a very blackish-bellied bird) performed well for all to enjoy as it popped in and out of the rushing waters.

Back at the hotel it was 31ºC again...

Tuesday 24th June

Mike lead a pre-breakfast wander where a fine pair of Rock Buntings and a fly-by Northern Goshawk were the star birds, though Crag Martins also gave a fine showing (true?!).

We dropped down to Hecho in very murky and muggy conditions, turned W towards Ansó and wound our way through he tortuous mountain roads flanked by mixed woodland. A 'short' stop on the roadside revealed another wealth of butterflies feasting on the numerous roadside flowers, including lots of Silver-washed and an approachable High Brown Fritillary, several Ilex Hairstreaks and various burnet moths including the extraordinarily brightly coloured Zygaena fausta - mostly red, but set off with a little white and also black. The pines were also attractive to birds, and while some chased butterflies, others birded, with a small family party of Western Bonelli's Warblers the star find, plus a few Crested Tits.

The normally impressive view from a viewpoint shortly ahead was shrouded in a dense haze, though a few Red and Black Kites and Griffon Vultures passed over and yet more insects came our way, with several of the peculiar Libelloides longicornis (the yellow-and-black winged dragonfly-like insect) buzzing over the grassy top. A bright yellow Pale Clouded Yellow also whizzed back and forth. The woods here held a few birds again, a mystery warbler hunt turning up ???, while as the party returned, a calling Short-toed Eagle spiralled up in front at close range, giving terrific views. A fine yellow and black dragonfly was sufficiently confiding enough to have its photo taken on a box bush, turning out to be Onychogomphus uncatus, a new species for John, and probably the same as one seen briefly at the Bonelli's Warbler site a little earlier.

Time was pushing on, so we continued into the adjacent valley and headed up again, pausing for a dark morph Booted Eagle hanging over an adjacent slope.

The town of Roncal proved to be an interesting location as well, with the official diversion from roadworks leading us through the winding narrow streets of the old town. How we didn't scrape the sides off the minibuses will remain a mystery, though the smell of over-worked clutches hung around the vehicles for a long time! The delay was more than worth it though and as we drove up the Roncal valley, so we pulled over smartly for a stunning Purple Emperor butterfly, sitting sadly stunned on the road, with a few others flying past also noted from the buses.

Lunch was taken in the shade of a towering beech wood, with Bullfinch and Firecrest of note, though we soon climbed up into grassy meadows towards the alpine tops. A pause en route found several Hummingbird Hawk-moths and fleeting views of Rock Bunting, but a stiff breeze prevented us spending too much time here.

The top was much better however, with masses of flowers on the turf, and jagged peaks poking up out of open woodland of gnarled Mountain Pines. Our search for hoped-for Ring Ouzel was unsuccessful, but a Water Pipit sat on a rock 'pipped' at us for some time, while the botanical delights were numerous: tiny spikes of Frog Orchid studded the turf, the blue heads of Large Self-heal formed little patches, blue spikes of Northern Dragonhead were scattered around, pink-flowered thymes formed low mounds throughout and Cat's-ear formed little silver-grey patches with short thin spikes sprinkled throughout. Oddities included a large white thrift growing in slightly more sheltered hollows and at the opposite end of the spectrum, the tiny Moonwort fern.

We waited for a short time on the edge of the pines, but just a few calls and brief fly-by views were noted of another of our target birds, so we continued over the top and down into France. A few Yellow-billed Choughs feeding on the grass were just yards away from the vehicles, but unsettled and flighty, but as we pulled into the Arrette - Pierre St. Martin ski resort, so a few small finches dropped onto the road in front - the previously elusive Citril Finches, with their delightfully subtle grey, green and yellow pattern. We stepped out to watch these at leisure, also noting the continental form of Coal Tit with its grey back in the pines overhead.

The plants certainly weren't bad here either, with Pyrenean Honeysuckle and Pyrenean Columbine of particular note, and patches of the blue-purple Wood Cranesbill brightening the cracks in the deeply eroded limestone.

We came back over into Spain, passing through dense, mercifully cool cloud at the pass, though watching a large flock of Yellow-billed Choughs which spiralled up at close range as they passed over the second bus and noting a little patch of Pyrenean Rose in a hollow.

Back at base it started to cloud up a little, despite being 31ºC again, with a fine thunderstorm passing later in the evening, trying in vain to break the grip of the heat.

Wednesday 25th June

Mike lead another pre-breakfast walk, this time in the bus to the famous Boca del Infierno (Hell's Mouth)...

It was slightly cooler, so we headed S, pressing on until near the extraordinary Mallos de Riglos, a series of massive and rather peculiar orange conglomerate outcrops standing up rather like fat fingers from the hillsides. At a spot overlooking the river we searched the slopes, finding a superb male Rock Thrush close to a dapper male Stonechat high above us as dozens of Griffon and a few Egyptian Vultures wheeled in front of the cliffs. A male Blue Rock Thrush sallied out from a nearby cliff, either in song flight and / or to catch and insect, but promptly disappeared, leaving us peering upwards. A reeling Cicada perched in a small bush was an interesting diversion however.

We took a short walk at another roadside spot, finding singing Corn Bunting and a fly-by Peregrine, with a stunning feisthameli Scarce Swallowtail (sometimes considered a separate species) gracing a muddy puddle in its search for fluids. The road up to Riglos also provided us with a couple of Crested Larks 'hiding' out in the open on a tilled field, while a young Subalpine Warbler tried unsuccessfully to sneak past the second bus without being seen!

A photo stop lead to a conversation with some bikers on Harley-Davidsons, who were off to Barcelona for the centenary meeting and Rolling Stones concert (!), but we then continued to the village, and after a short walk were contemplating the massive outcrops from close below. Several climbers scaling the buttresses didn't bode well, but almost immediately, Mike spotted a fine male Black Wheatear with its glowing white rump and tail base which perched out in the open for all to admire. We watched as it periodically dropped down to catch prey, occasionally disappearing for short periods, the browner female then also appearing on the scrubby slope for comparison. A male Black Redstart sang from an aerial just behind, vying for attention and a super male blue Blue Rock Thrush teetered on the top of a shrub for all to admire. The apparent response from the male wheatear to our lack of attention was to grab a huge caterpillar (actually a Bedstraw Hawkmoth!) and beat it to death for several minutes among the stones and scrub!

Thin high cloud was keeping conditions at least bearable, so we headed S and out into the agricultural plains. This was a masterstroke, with a couple of Bee-eaters kicking things off, and as we stopped for the first, an adjacent bird on the wire was a leggy Tawny Pipit! Terrific! Shortly ahead, another pause for Bee-eaters by a small river revealed a couple of Golden Orioles, one of which even came and sat out in the top of a dead poplar for us to admire!

The Embalse de Sotonera nearby produced a few Coot and Grey Heron at a quick glance, but we pushed on to lunch. A harrier crossing the road between the buses required attention however and turned out to be a strangely-plumaged (young) male Marsh Harrier but the sun was now beating down so we headed for a shady spot by a river near Tormos. Despite recent building and a scruffy-looking site, Firecrests peeped overhead and a Golden Oriole fluted from a stand of poplars on the far bank.

Sitting down to lunch in completely new habitat can be a trying affair (but in the right way!), and this was rapidly proven as a stunning adult Purple Heron came past at eye level just yards away, but only once we were tucking into our sandwiches! A few Cattle Egrets also passed over, a Kingfisher sped past and a Turtle Dove purred from a nearby wire to keep us busy. Finally, a Yellow-legged Gull circled up nearby, but some distant raptors escaped us, and having contemplated a superb male Red-veined Darter just feet away, made a fine natural end to lunch.

Back on the reservoir dam, the sun was out, the air still and the temperature soared to 38C... This was simply too much, and despite some very distant Black-headed Gulls and a little flock of Whiskered Terns, we called a tactical retreat, but not before Mike clinched Jackdaw on a roof of a small building along the dam...

A few Crested Larks and Tawny Pipits kept us amused by the roadside as we continued, the second bus also finding two Purple Herons feeding by the reservoir where a G C Grebe also fished. Our aim though, was the top of the reservoir where arable met shallows, with a bit of tamarisk thrown in. Stopping for a few Little Egrets and a duck on the shore, a Stone-curlew suddenly put on a sprint in a nearby field, revealing its presence. We got out to get scope views, this and then a second flying up and around us, with a Hoopoe fluttering along though some bushes meaning a quick change of direction of attention was required.

Moving closer to the edge we flushed a Green Sandpiper and a Mallard, and as we stepped out to watch, a Little Ringing Plover calling plaintively on the edge also put in a show. This also lead to the discovery of a Fan-tailed Warbler flitting around the rushy areas, which eventually flew past giving views to all.

We finished with an interesting drive down to a hidden corner along some interesting tracks. We stepped out to the calls of a Penduline Tit, a male of which was building a superb nest in a lone willow and afforded excellent, albeit rather brief views as it came back sporadically to shape a little more of the structure. The same tree was also good feeding, and no less than three Melodious Warblers shot out as we watched! Although the heat was too much, the reeds and tamarisks held other interest, and a Reed Warbler flew past before singing quietly and the distant 'grunts and grinds' of a Great Reed Warbler were audible to some.

The last bird of special note were three almost fledged young plus an adult White Stork perched on a nest atop a high pole specially erected for their use.

Back at camp it was 31ºC again...

Thursday 26th June

The day dawned clear but slightly cooler, so we headed S again. Apart from the remarkable spectacle of a Black Kite perched on wires sunning itself as we passed the fields where they were usually feeding again, little was noted. Indeed, as we approached the Puente la Reina, a large road resurfacing lorry was moving very slowly across it, having just started at our end. We waited a little while, then as little appeared to be moving a quick chat to a worker revealed that the main road was to be shut for 2 hours!!!

Up to Hecho and across towards Ansó again, this time pausing at a different spot in the road for a Red Squirrel in pines, which lead to the discovery of plenty of butterflies and most remarkably a stunning Hornet Clearwing moth, its similarity to a hornet being astounding.

We turned into the Biniés valley, and before dropping into the wonderful gorge, the Foz de Biniés, stopped on a scrubby hillside to try for a few birds. As so often though, the first species noted were the butterflies, with dozens of Marbled Whites on knapweeds and a fine collection of Blue-spot and Ilex Hairstreaks plus a couple of Chalkhill Blues on a bramble right beside the car! A slightly duller looking Great Banded Grayling (also common) was a Woodland Grayling, the difference in its cryptic underwing pattern being readily visible.

We took an extended walk up tracks through the scrub and to the edge of some woodland, but the intense heat made things difficult. A brief male and later rather more confiding young Subalpine Warbler plus several active Dartford Warblers and a couple of Stonechats livened up proceedings, but birds were very quiet, even despite a small family party of Ravens and fly-over Red Kites and Egyptian Vultures. Butterflies again took a hold on proceedings, and while most searched for birds and a few looked at a Mallow Skipper and a couple of Escher's Blues, Sarje and Clare went up further and found several remarkable species together, Chestnut Heath and Damon Blue both even being lifers for Mike!

Lunch in the shade was called for, and Mike's suggestion of finding a spot under poplars was perfectly achieved, and after dropping down through the fantastic limestone gorge of the Foz de Biniés was lunched in a grassy spot under a small plantation, with the Río Veral gurgling in the background and a Golden Oriole fluting away from time to time. The insect life was rich and varied here, including a few damselflies, with a blue-bodied demoiselle* being eaten by a crab spider a notable sighting. The heat was impressive though, so a short stroll to the water was called for afterwards, producing a couple of Common Sandpipers for the first few to arrive, and various plants and insects for the rest, including several male black and yellow dragonflies Onychogomphus forcipatus keeping territory on the rocks in the water and a few demoiselles keeping to the shade on the opposite bank. *The demoiselles here (as in the rest of Spain) are interesting, the males we saw being a largely blue-winged species, like Beautiful Demoiselle in the UK, but in fact being a subspecies, xanthostoma of Banded Demoiselle (having narrower, less densely celled wings and purer blue body overall). The blue-bodied male with long accessory genitalia (well done Alan!) which was being eaten was in fact possibly aberrant, having only a very pale blue suffusion over the whole wing, though perhaps this was an effect of being eaten by the spider or perhaps being teneral (=freshly emerged from the pupal case). Anyway, a strange flighty blue butterfly turned out to be Chapman's Blue and a small hairstreak which caught Mike's attention was Sloe Hairstreak, a new species for him and bringing out more jokes about those from Suffolk...

The heat again got the better, so we started back, pausing for a photo stop from near the picturesque village of Biniés and getting binocular-filling views of a stunning resting Scarce Swallowtail. A drinks break was also called-for, which we took by the Puente la Reina, before finishing off nearby on a scrubby hillside where a male Ortolan Bunting sat out at length for us to enjoy and a pair of Red-backed Shrikes and a recently fledged Corn Bunting popped up on the wires for a few minutes.

This allowed a slightly earlier return, and as the heat just began to die off later, a few took short strolls near the hotel, seeing a selection of the typical species of the area.

For a change, the temperature was just under 30ºC!

Friday 27th June

Our last full day, and we kept it sensibly relaxed. Our first port of call was the Oroel viewpoint, though as we approached, a group of horses being herded along the road called for a "10-minute break to let them get ahead", and the spot was so good it was over an hour before we got away!

The flower-rich meadows were alive with butterflies, while great views were possible the whole time up to imposing limestone cliffs above pine forest. While Weaver's Fritillaries were common, lots of Knapweed Frits were present too and various Silver-washed and Dark Green adorned the bramble and knapweed flowers amongst hundreds of Marbled Whites. A Comma almost seemed dowdy by comparison, but a Southern White Admiral brightened up proceedings! We pottered around the vehicles, gradually moving up to an old viewpoint, noting a fly-by Woodlark as we went.

A calling raptor enlivened the bird front, a young dark morph Booted Eagle calling repeatedly as it went, before starting to circle up by the cliffs. This seemed to trigger other raptors into moving, and a fine male Honey Buzzard also suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere and circled around for several minutes alongside the eagle, while a couple of Egyptian Vultures, including a dusky immature bird also flew around for good measure.

We eventually pulled ourselves away, though not before noting a feeding Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth on the lavender flowers, and headed on to the viewpoint proper. Here we spent a few minutes listening in vain for Black Woodpecker, though a brief Subalpine Warbler put in an appearance and a small 'grizzled' skipper on the grass was probably a Safflower Skipper.

The pine woods were too inviting, so we followed the main track in. Masses of Heath Fritillaries fed on the heads of Dwarf Elder, while freshly fledged broods of Coal Tits called incessantly to be fed. A Short-toed Treecreeper sang from the picnic area and further on, several Crested Tits and a couple of Western Bonelli's Warblers also performed well. The Wild Strawberries, growing commonly on the banks were also savoured, while a few Dark Red Helleborines were flowering along the banks.

We delayed a little and took lunch back by the vehicles, the presence of an adjacent bar being useful, before heading down to Jaca for look at the old citadel. Despite the heat, some small birds were calling in the park where we parked and this lead to the discovery of a brood of recently fledged Short-toed Treecreepers, the stumpy-tailed young snuggled into the crotch of the trunk and almost invisible. The open conditions by the citadel itself meant that it was seriously hot, but the presence of a colony of Rock Sparrows, shreeping from the walls, distracted us for some time, the abundant Common Swifts wheeling around also coming in to their nests surprisingly low down in the walls. The N side was even hotter, but a brilliantly coloured adult male Greenfinch, of the 'golden-bellied' race (as it used to be called in English) kept us occupied long enough to find a few Tree Sparrows feeding in the grass and clinging to the walls. The party member numbers gradually dwindled however as the heat got through, though the back markers saw calling Iberian Pool Frog in the largely dry moat and a few of the Red Deer also kept there.

After a drinks break and / or wander round the centre, we re-adjourned at the vehicles and headed back towards the hotel. A stop in Hecho revealed a delightful old village centre, and the bakers opened a few minutes later allowing us to find that they stocked plenty of local honey and other goods, and a fine spending spree was had by most!

We reached the hotel at 5:45 p.m., with seemingly little time except to organise and pack. However, calls for a Lammergeier watch meant that we gradually emerged from 6 onwards (after showers, etc.) and with drinks in hand sat in the shade to scan the skies above the mountain tops around. A group of Griffons were loafing on the ground on the nearest mountain, with a pair of Kestrels hovering nearby, with choughs (probably both species, but extremely distant) almost constantly tumbling across the tops. However, just as Sarje emerged on his balcony wrapped only in a towel, an adult Lammergeier appeared above the resting Griffons, spiralled up and then drifted rapidly away behind some peaks. As the remainder of the group also appeared, so another adult circled up briefly before drifting rapidly away - what an end! Not so! A dark blob on a distant ridge appeared to have a pale head and paler wing panel, and just as identification was at the point of being revealed, the mate of the Golden Eagle flew in to join its partner to really confirm it.

We sat and watched the movements of the vultures and a pale morph Booted Eagle until time ran out, with over 100 Griffons in the air at once at one point a remarkable sight.

Cooling conditions and a stiff N breeze heralded a change of weather and a terrific thunder storm in the night was a fore-runner to cooler and cloudy condition the following morning.

Saturday 28th June

After a 6:30 breakfast we got away promptly and made good time to Bilbao, noting numerous Buzzards along the roadsides en route and even a few White Storks near Vitoria. John said his goodbyes in the airport at Bilbao to conclude a fine trip to the Spanish Pyrenees.


© The Travelling Naturalist 2003