Iberian Lynx in Sierra Morena
The Iberian Lynx ( Lynx pardinus ) stands on the brink of extinction. Just a century ago, it ranged over half of the Iberian peninsula. As recently as the mid nineties it was estimated to occur in a wide area of south west Spain. Today its range has shrunk dramatically to just two viable populations within Andalusia , with an estimation of approximately 200 individuals. Four main factors have combined to decimate the population. First has been hunting, a tradition in deep rural Spain . Afterwards came myxomatosis, which devastated Iberia 's Rabbit numbers and deprived the Iberian Lynx of 90% of its diet! Habitat destruction and fragmentation has also been a contributing factor. Southern Spain has also been developed and urbanised with many new motorways and roads and consequential traffic - road-kills have dramatically affected Lynx communities.
A recent census in the granite hills of the Sierra Morena, some of the best preserved Mediterranean forest in the Iberian peninsula, has revealed a most important population of the this ‘jewel', the most endangered of the world's 36 cat species. As well as Iberian Lynx, Otter , Wild Boar, Genet , Mouflon and Red Deer occur in the area. These mountains also hold a large population of Griffon Vultures, as well as good numbers of the rare Black Vulture and Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Doñana is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year, but for birdwatchers the winter is a particularly good time to go. The famous marshes of Doñana usually hold water at this time of year and attract great amounts of gulls, terns, and shorebirds to forage side by side with White Stork, Spoonbill, and several species of herons and egrets, the whole area is just full of life. In the National Park we have chances of seeing mammals such as Wild Boar, Red Deer, Iberian Hare and Fallow Deer.
Days 1-4: Doñana National Park
Morning flight to Seville, transfer by minibus to the National Park, where we enjoy a local tapas lunch. Doñana is a wonderful place throughout the year, but for birdwatchers the winter is a particularly attractive time to visit. The famous marismas of Doñana usually hold water at this time and attract large quantities of Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, ducks, geese, gulls, terns and shorebirds foraging side by side with White Storks, Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule and several species of heron and egret. Some breeding raptors are back on territory whilst others are passing through on migration; the whole area is just teeming with life.
Days 4-8: Sierra Morena
Transfer to Sierra de Andújar, a well-kept secret in terms of wild mountain habitat in Spain. This beautiful mountain chain holds dense populations of Moufflon, Red and Fallow Deer, Otter and Wild Boar as well as the largest Iberian Lynx population in Spain. Birds seen here include Griffon and Black Vultures, Golden and Spanish Imperial Eagle, Azure-winged Magpie, Sardinian Warbler, Hawfinch and Iberian Green Woodpecker. Transfer to Seville airport on the morning of Day 8
Our accommodation here is a traditional guest house, similar to Boletas, and situated in the heart of the beautiful mediterranean woodland. All rooms have en suite facilities.
IberianLynx by Brian Clasper
Dear Josele Jan and I want to thank you for making our holiday so happy. Seeing the Lynx was a wonderful experience which we could not have done without your knowledge and skill. The birds and the flowers were so good and we had a lot of fun. We hope you have as good a time with your group from Ireland. Best wishes to Esther and Marina
Joyce Jones - May 2008
Hi Josele, We arrived back home yesterday after a punctual flight, a night at Liverpool airport hotel and a smooth drive back home where there is no longer any snow lying, at least not at our levels at present. Many thanks for looking after us so well, in spite of the less than ideal travelling conditions and weather which didn't make things exactly easy for you. The view of the lynx was better than I had even hoped for and the birds very good in spite of the unusual conditions. The food and accomodation, planned and unplanned, was as usual very good. Best wishes and regards.
Neil and Marjorie Hutchin - January 2010