Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Marshes of Western Spain
On April 22 we left Portugal for Huelva, in southern Spain, where we met Javier and Virginia Grijalbo. Javi is an old friend of Janet's from her student days in Madrid, and it had been 35 years ! What a great moment to see each other again after so long. Not to mention that Javi is a well-known naturalist and illustrator in Spain-- the perfect guide for the Spanish 38th parallel. The marshes of Doñana and Huelva are renowned for their water birds (including flamingos, spoonbills, egrets, and chaffinch, shown int these photos) and for the wetlands at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River (we will be following that major river upstream from here). The birds and wetlands did not disappoint. We also visited the Iberian Lynx Captive Breeding Center in Acebuche, inside Doñana National Park (37°09'; 6°29'), and met with Director Antonio Rivas. The lynx is the most endangered cat in the world; and the breeding adults and cubs are definitely off limits to visitors but we were privileged to see the action on the video screens that are monitored night and day (check the photos at their website: Breeding and births have been occurring here and at several other sites and the plan is to move adult lynx into the wild. In fact, in the days ahead, we will follow the Guadalquivir River upstream and visit the site along the 38th parallel in the Sierra Morena mountains where several reintroductions have occurred in recent months. Stay tuned!