12 – 16th December 2019, Andalucía, Spain
Doñana might host Europe’s rarest mammal, but it is most famous as a sanctuary for birds. And what birds! Swaying in the reeds, wading in the marshes, laughing in the trees.
Iberian magpie (formerly known as the azure-winged magpie)
Iberian grey shrike
The forest has Fire, but it also cradles this:
Water roars off Litchfield’s sandstone plateaus, but like everything here, it is seasonal. May is still early in the Dry season and the land is ridding itself of the liquid acquired in the Wet.
Or call it Yegge, if you prefer; the Aboriginals traditionally recognise six seasons in Australia’s Top End.
The high rivers support saltwater crocodiles – and other, more delicate living things. None are more beautiful than the rainbow bee-eater, which swoops over the pool hunting insects.
Wherever there is water, there are birds. And they just keep getting stranger.
And more entertaining.
And more impossible in hue.
June – August 2016
Daia is still in a questionable mood. Clouds roll inwards from the mountains.
High on the transects, the trail cameras keep a lonely vigil in the mist.
Weather has a low impact on large mammal surveys, unless the rain is so heavy that it obliterates the tracks. The bird team are warier than me; their standard method is to set mist nets, very fine netting that captures birds with low risk of harm. Using mist nets in rainy conditions is not recommended for many reasons, and given that they take time to set up, it is easier to have them near camp when the weather is changeable.
Which means that the rest of us can have a look too.
Red-backed shrikes are abundant.
And a great spotted woodpecker is a nice surprise.
All the birds are fitted with an identification ring and released to continue their day.
They are far from the only animals in camp. A convolvulus hawk moth searches for nectar in the drizzle.
Even when the wildlife is hiding, the farm kittens melt everyone’s hearts.
Through it all, their wild forest cousins move noiselessly in the misty hills, fending for themselves amongst the bears.