Scribe on the Sands

Red deer3 Donana Dec 19

12 – 16th December 2019, Andalucía, Spain 

Doñana: art project of the mighty Guadalquivir River, a restless equation of marsh, forest and dune. Hardly an hour south of Seville’s bright streets lies a wilderness with sand that speaks, and slips under your boots, adding you to the register of living things that walked under umbrella pines.

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Rabbits, red deer and wild boar. Mongoose, Iberian fox and badger – they all came here before me, loping past rosemary shrubs, fur patted by a wind that teases winter even while cicadas pepper the nights. Something else is here, something wilder and rarer, and its insignia is etched in the sand.

Iberian lynx track Donana Dec 19

Iberian lynx. They are indivisible from rabbits – I contemplated their relationship in Andújar last year. This lynx is the rarest cat on Earth, a spotted, ear-tufted, sideburned ghost, and Doñana is its other major stronghold. Four times I see their sign on these sandy hikes, but the lynx hide themselves, as is their wont.

Rabbits keep watch, as is theirs. Their population is frail, stitched together by conservationists to keep lynx alive.

Rabbit Donana Dec 19

It is an ongoing campaign, but there is still hope; there are still lynx in Doñana. Somewhere, beyond the cork oaks and the horses wandering free.

Donana horses Dec 19

Doñana‘s other master predator takes to the marshes. For sheer grandeur, the Spanish imperial eagle tops the tree – and a kestrel hovers over it, as reckless as a crow.

Imperial eagle and kestrel2 Donana Dec 19

Imperial eagle and kestrel Donana Dec 19

There are little owls here, too, perched on the ancient stump of a eucalyptus.

Little owl Donana Dec 19

And red deer, still watching.

Red deer Donana4 Dec 19

Still leaving hoofprints on those sandy trails that tell so many stories.

Clouds build over the little whitewashed town of El Rocío.

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Clouds to wipe clean the sandy canvas, turn a fresh page if you will – but the rain is yet to fall.

11 thoughts on “Scribe on the Sands

  1. Adele, nice to see you! It’s been awhile! Seems you have been out and about! Lovely post with terrific images! I’m glad there are still some wild places!
    I hope you have a Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year, New decade!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robin! I wanted to give my new lens a test and Donana seemed the best option at this time of year – good wildlife and even some sunshine! It’s been heavy rain in the UK for weeks, which isn’t uncommon in early winter.

      Thank you very much, and same to you and your family! Looking forward to 2020!

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  2. It feels weird to see a place in late December without snow or even rain (thinking about Vancouver right now). It is like a Christmas we had in Mexico few years ago: somehow out of place and time 😀
    I like that owl photo, something I was hoping to see in southern Cariboo where we are now. I hope you will see that lynx again, such an interesting looking cat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It felt very odd to be walking down sandy streets in 18c, with Feliz Navidad blazing above! Although, I’m sure the locals would say that is cold. Their summers are pretty fierce.

      Enjoy the Cariboo! I don’t think I’ve ever been in there, although I must have seen them from Hwy 16 at some point.

      I might go back to Spain next year and see if the lynx will cooperate. But their tracks told interesting stories and not all of them were in habitats that I expected.

      Happy Christmas to you and San! 🙂

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    1. Thanks – Donana is a very unusual part of the world. It has a breathless exotic infusion to it but mixed with species familiar from northern Europe, such as wild boar and red deer. As for the lynx, well, they are special although not as often seen in Donana as they are in their other stronghold of Andújar. Seeing their tracks on sand dunes was quite something, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sounds to be a remarkable intersection and beautiful too. It must have been a thrill to find such a tangible connection to the lynx by seeing such clear tracks in the sand. Sometimes it is perhaps more than enough just to see such signs and know they are able to continue to live their lives in relative secret.

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