A new way to see Andalucian Wildlife

alpasin-img 6993In September 2013 I was fortunate enough to visit Agustin Perez Amil and his wonderful collection of hides labelled under the name of Alpasin Ecotourismo. Located in the Sierra Morena area, close to Adamuz, these hides give visitors like me the opportunity to observe and photograph some of Spain’s iconic wildlife.
Arriving after a 3 hour drive from the coast I found myself, in dense woodland, at our lodgings for the visit also organised by Agustin. The sound of Thekla Lark, Jay and rutting Red Deer spread throughout the woodland around us, so there was no time for a rest; it was time to do some photography.
With the heat slowly subsiding we made our way to the first hide. Specifically designed for the woodland species this hide sits close to a small pool and is surrounded by trees, a perfect habitat to attract the smaller woodland species; we did not have to wait long. alpasin-img 7168More common species such as Blue Tit and Great Tit were the first to arrive but were soon joined by some really special birds. Subalpine Warbler, Whitethroat, Iberian Chiffchaff and Hawfinch fed and drank just a couple of feet from us, the Hawfinch being especially pleasing with how tricky they can be in the UK.  These birds stayed with us until dusk.
After getting our eye in with the small birds we awoke the next morning excited for what the day would bring, it was time for the birds of prey. Agustin collected us before dawn and drove us the short distance in the dark to the bird of prey hide where we set up, and waited. There was only one species in our mind, the tension growing as the temperature rose and they failed to show.
The sun began beating down with the temperature climbing to 34C, (hotter inside the hide I found myself in) then from nowhere we heard it “owk-owk-owk-owk”…Spanish Imperial Eagle! alpasin-img 7525This was the moment we had been waiting for. The silhouette cast onto the ground darkened and became smaller as this majestic eagle, a male, soared down and landed in a tree not too far from the hide. The cameras went off and the gasps began as a second bird, a female, joined the first. On this , the first of two days with the eagles, we had been treated to the most unbelievable views that the 100 or so Griffon Vultures feeding aggressively in front of us became something of a side show to the main piece, as did the troops of Azure-Winged Magpie and male Wild Boar that also paid us a visit.
After two exhausting days in intense heat we decided on a late start for day four. A walk around the area produced many woodland species of birds and butterflies but it was time to get back to photography.
Back in the passerine hide we were treated to even more of a spectacle than on day one.  No fewer than 12 Hawfinch joined us for the afternoon, along with a varied supporting cast. Azure-Winged Magpie, Subalpine Warbler and the superb Crested Tit all returned while Sparrowhawk and Bee-Eater gave close flight views but sadly did not land for a drink.
alpasin-img 7658Sadly day five meant it was time to leave this wonderful area, but not before one final session. Throughout our stay Red Deer were prominent and it was time to capture the rutting stags in all their splendour. The weather had become fresher and with a chill in the air we set off again in the dark to the hides. It wasn’t long before the Red Deer arrived, two adolescent animals, one stag and a mother with a young fawn. The sound of the males bellow was all around us which added to the fantastic experience of watching these animals at close quarters.
I cannot express enough what a fantastic set of hides Agustin has built up. If you love photography, wildlife and southern Spain I would give the Alpasin hides a visit, you will not be disappointed.

Oliver Reville – ABS member
For more information please visit:
www.alpasin.wordpress.com & www.avesdelsur.wordpress.com

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