Wildlife Holiday News

Wolves & Bustards in Rural Spain

A customer travelled on our 'Wolf-watching in Spain' holiday and submitted this entry to our writing competition.

Great Bustard

Early morning. London shrouded in dense, wet cold fog. Would the plane be able to take off? It did, only half an hour late, and in less than two hours we were landing at Valladolid in brilliant warm sunshine. Soon we were driving past a forest of wind turbines and fields of solar panels and out across the wide vistas of the steppe under a vast dome of blue sky. Before very long we pulled up on the side of the road and there towards the horizon was a flock of turkey-sized Great Bustard. A little further on we pulled off the road and watched more Great Bustard feeding on the stubble and a large flock flying. A magnificent sight! There were warblers and other birds flitting in the bushes but we had seen the first of the two main targets of the trip, and we had hardly arrived! We hoped we would be as fortunate with the Wolves.

Having settled into our comfortable accommodation in the Hostal Romeros in the the grey village of Villarrecieros (Village of the Red Deer) we set out again for an evening Wolf search. We saw a magnificent Red Deer stag with impressive antlers, Roe Deer and a few saw a Wild Boar and piglet crossing a ride ... but no Wolves.

Next morning, just as dawn was breaking, we were off again, this time parking at the side of a quiet road. We scanned the surrounding heathland, backed by pine forest, from the vans for a little while before getting out in silence armed with telescopes and binoculars to continue scanning. Suddenly Julian saw movement in the heather on the edge of the forest. WOLVES! They came out onto the road about 500m from us, five of them, a female and four youngsters probably one or two years old. As the female stood watching one youngster stayed in the heather while the others rolled and played on the road, probably enjoying the warmth remaining in the tarmac from the previous day's sun. For perhaps 15 minutes we watched them, almost breathless with excitement, until a van came down the road. Unhurriedly the family slipped away into the heather and the spell was broken. Words like ‘fantastic’, ‘incredible’ and ‘magic’ were bandied about the group but no superlatives were really adequate to describe the experience we had just been privileged to enjoy. We could hardly believe how fortunate we had been to have had such a wonderful view of Wolves in the wild.

The rest of the trip was a bonus. Birds were numerous. Red Kites were common as were Northern Lapwings, and after a number of warblers and other small birds the highlights were probably a superb view of a Southern Grey Shrike, a captivating Little Owl, storks feeding with Common Cranes and, perhaps best of all, a Kingfisher feeding close to the bridge over the Rio Esla.

We did not see Wolves again, or Otters or Wild Boar, but the memories of the Wolves will remain with all of us for ever. Thank you Byron and Julian.

Read more about our 'Wolf-watching in Spain' holiday.