Wildlife Holiday News

Where Eagles Fly

An Entry to the Naturetrek 2018 Writing Competition. Jo Grimes conveys the acrobatic avian displays she witnessed on our 'Spain – Realm of the Iberian Lynx holiday'.

We climbed back into our minibuses to continue our mission to find more Iberian Lynx when a shout rings out ‘Golden Eagle!’ We scramble out again to look aloft by the river’s edge in the La Lancha area near Andujar on the banks of the Rio Jandula. It was the last day of the adventure – I had only seen Golden Eagles in captivity before, so to see one wheeling in the air and riding the thermals was magical. Obligingly, it continued to soar above us affording everyone a photographic opportunity – a dark unmistakable shape against a sea blue sky; its primaries spread against the heavens. As if to give a sense of proportion, a brave buzzard flew close to the eagle, perhaps guarding its territory? It looked like a pigeon dive bombing a Red Kite – brave and rather foolish. Our group members craned necks, grinning and gasping. They could scarcely believe it when this avian display was joined by a single Griffon Vulture and the majestic Spanish Imperial Eagle! All four raptors continued to dance in the sky for us as if in some sort of aerial competition – who was the biggest, bravest or most impressive? What the purpose was, we will never know – had they seen a meal opportunity below them? Or was it a territorial dispute? What were the chances of those four birds coming together just in those few precious moments!?

A confession – I hadn’t done much homework prior to the holiday but our guides, Simon and Nikki, were founts of knowledge, more than going the extra kilometre to ensure everyone got a look at the Andalusian wildlife on the Realm of the Iberian Lynx expedition in November 2018. Having been shown it in a telescope, the Spanish Imperial Eagle appeared to be an impressive black bird that had been splashed with white paint. To see it vying for some sort of winged supremacy with the Griffon Vulture and Golden Eagle was something I will always remember. And that plucky ‘little’ buzzard taking on the giants! It reminded me of some sort of flypast – just for us – a privilege in nature on that last auspicious day in the bright Iberian sunshine. My neck began to ache and my eyes were still squinting until the last participant disappeared, forever etched into our memories.

I had to commit this in writing as, apart from some rather shaky photos, I might not have believed it ever happened. Something precious to dream about on a grey British winter’s day, locked away in the memory banks marked ‘Birds of Prey – Unforgettable’. Thank you Naturetrek and whoever was the eagle-eyed person who first saw the spectacle emerge!

For more information on our 6-day 'Spain – Realm of the Iberian Lynx' holiday please click here.