Friday, 26 May 2017

Spain,Extremadura, 2017. Part 15. Vultures and Kites

We were all packed and the car loaded ready to head to Madrid and home but first we were off for our last hide session, the Vulture feeding hide.
it was a fairly long drive, it had been suggested we could follow Jose in our car but as it was heading in the opposite direction we saw little point.
Once again the weather seemed to be against us because its was lovely sunny morning in Colera Y Chozas but as we headed west and towards the base of the mountains there was a lot of low mist like cloud hanging over the place where the hide was situated. 
The light was pretty awful and to make matters worse we were shooting through glass. There were two hides alongside each other and once again there were three people. Mike and myself in one and a local Spaniard in the other. A container full of meat offcuts was largely dumped in two spots and  a few other pieces scattered around.
Jose retreated in his car to get his head down for a couple of hours and immediately the Vultures along with a few dozen Ravens all flew in to start the feeding.
I have been to Vulture feeding sites in The Gambia so I knew that the spectacle is usually chaotic with two many birds to get a decent shot. It was pretty similar here and whereas apparently sometimes the Vultures fly on to the perches that are available, today they didn't.
Still, I was pleased to see a couple of Cinereous Vultures in amongst the Griffons and I tried to catch one in flight.
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
With the lens wide open and a moderate shutter speed of 1/1600th the ISO was still being pushed way up the scale to 12,800. That's why you pay so much for a 1DX2 though , the images are acceptable especially if you don't crop them too much.
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
It was frustrating to see that beyond our field the mountain side was lit up by the morning sun. 
The Cinereous Vulture looks quite impressive when you see one head on too.
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
Initially the Vutures were all cautious in their approach.
Griffon Vulture   Gyps fulvus
but once one made a move they all loped over to the waiting feast.
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
Along with the Vultures and Ravens were a surprisingly large number of White Storks too, something I hadn't expected.
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
This one was more intent on displaying than eating.
White Stork    Ciconia ciconia
A distant Fox was seen crossing the field and we were hoping it might come in for some meat but alas that wasn't to be.
Something spooked the Vultures though and they nearly all flew off which was actually a benefit as only a couple returned.
By now the sun was breaking through so the light was so much better.
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
For a size comparison look at this!
Cinereous Vulture   Aegypius monachus
Still the Ravens were not intimidated in any way and probably got the best pieces of meat.
Overall, the show hadn't been the best. Apparently there were fewer Vultures present than normal and they didn't perform as they sometimes do. Flying on to perches, fighting amongst themselves and such like. Still, I was pleased to have captured some images of the Cinereous Vulture that I'd missed at Monfrague. Incidentally they are also known as the (Eurasian) Black Vulture.
Just when we thought it was all over though we suddenly had an aerial display to match anything we had seen so far.
Black Kites took over the feeding station to clear up the bits that had no appeal to the Vultures.
Fortunately the sun was out too so flight photography was made easier.
Black Kite  Milvus migrans
They were more than happy to land on the perches too.
black kite (Milvus migrans
so that made for more interesting shots.
Black Kite  Milvus migrans
Black Kite  Milvus migrans
Once again I had a feeling the glass windows softened the images a bit but it was an enjoyable spectacle and an interesting challenge and we both agreed, saved the day.
My favourite was probably this one.
Black Kite  Milvus migrans
Anyway, it was all over by about 10.30 or so and we were taken back to Colera Y Chozas. There we decided to have a last visit to the best eating place in the town. It only sells churros and the odd bought in piece of cake but the freshly made churros are, like their coffee, excellent. Shame they didn't start making them until 6.30am so too late most mornings!
With no other ideas on how to pass the time of day before our early evening flight we headed back to the airport in Madrid where we arrived with about 5 hours to spare!
Anyway, I'm glad we had plenty of time to find the airport because unlike our arrival which had been plain sailing, finding our way back wasn't quite so simple and I must have driven the wrong way around the city.
It was with some relief we delivered our car back to the rental place without a single mark on it. Driving around Madrid had been a bit like competing in "Whacky Races".
So that was it, another trip over.
Now we start thinking about next year.
Hope you have enjoyed taking the trip with us.

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