Last January I spent 20 days at a tiny and remote village at the doors of the Picos de Europa national park. This beautiful park forms part of the Cantabrian Mountains range in northern Spain, a wild and mostly unspoiled region. During their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, already the romans had considerable difficulties to control the "Cantabros" tribes and the Arab occupation of Spain went smoothly till they were defeated at Covadonga, the last resistance point of the christian army from where the "Reconquista" slowly began.
My illusion was to get a decent picture of a wolf which together with the brown bear is the most emblematic species of the area. Unfortunately some people in our country have not yet understood what a touristic potential this animals represent! I had already been warned that during winter it would be extremely difficult to see any of these. Not enough with that the weather was not the best: snow and cloudy weather with blizzard-like strong winds which made it impossible to wait for wolves at strategic points.
Instead I was lucky to see and "shoot" a Wild Cat
(Felis silvestris) on just one day where the weather was not as bad as on former days.
It was an exciting experience to see this elusive animal! I saw it once as it moved to the near-by forest and later on again trying to hide in a dry creek surrounded by the white snow, allowing it to vanish thanks to it's cryptic color. (photo below)
When it finally saw that it had been discovered the cat slowly moved away and dissappeared in a cave.
On the next days the weather again turned bad and there was no further opportunity to see any wild cat. The area, however had much more to offer: Wild Watching Spain
is a spanish agency for wildlife photographers with just around a year in business. Very near to the village of Crémenes, where I was lodging, three hides had been set up, one of them specially dedicated to the three woodpecker species which can be found in this region.
From just one place I was able to see and photograph Great Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker.
The abundant snow which was falling made also for specially interesting and rewarding pictures.
On one of the remaining hides, Red Kite and Raven were the stars. The raven couple posed for some extraordinary tender and loving scenes while the Red Kite offered an amazing close-up.
Many other species, passerine birds and more to the south Great Bustard were seen and pictured so that the area may be considered of special value for wildlife photographers and nature lovers. During summer time, Wild Watching Spain organizes guided tours which allow for granted wolf and bear sightings. I was equally assured that the terrain is excellent for herptiles!
The quality of the images obtained resulted in an acceptance ratio of more than 90 % which was a plus as well.