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Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information121The Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), themost endangered of the world's 36cat species, stands on the brink ofextinction. Just a century ago, it rangedthroughout over half of the Iberianpeninsula. As recently as 1996 it stilloccurred in nearly a quarter of the region.Today, its range has shrunk dramatically tojust two viable (but isolated) populationswithin Andalucía, and its population isestimated to be fewer than 250 adultindividuals. A number of factors havecombined to decimate the population ofthis delightful cat. First came myxomatosis,which devastated Iberia's Rabbit numbersand deprived the Iberian Lynx of its chiefprey species - 90% of its diet! As if thatwas not enough, a second disease - viralhemorrhagic pneumonia - hit the region'ssurviving Rabbits. Habitat destruction andfragmentation has been a contributingfactor, but worse, Spain's entry into the EUand its astonishingly rapid transformationfrom simple rural economy to a highlydeveloped and urbanised one has seen asurge in road construction andconsequential traffic (and road-kills) thathave wreaked havoc on Lynx communities. In the rugged, dry and rocky hills andmountains of the Sierra Morena some ofthe best preserved Mediterranean forest inthe Iberian peninsula is to be found.Primarily this is open and spacious oakforest, comprised of Holm, Gall and CorkOak, though alder, ash and poplars are tobe found at the margins of rivers, gladesand meadows. In this quiet and relativelyunpopulated region, Spain's wild animalsthrive. As well as Iberian Lynx, Wolves,Otters, Wild Boar, Mouflon and Red Deerare all to be found. These mountains alsohold a large population of Griffon Vultures,as well as good numbers of the rare BlackVulture and Spanish Imperial Eagle.Amongst the oak forest that clads thesehills are grassy glades and secludedvalleys where the Lynx hunt Rabbits, restamongst the rocks, and raise their youngin ancient, hollowed oaks. Here live themajority (perhaps 70% or more) of theworld's remaining Iberian Lynx. Perhapshere, in a refuge from the modern world,the Iberian Lynx has a chance of survival. The remaining 20-30% of the Iberian Lynxpopulation lives in and around the CotoDoñana, a quite different environment offlat grasslands and pine forests where just a few individual oak trees or remnantpatches of Mediterranean oak forest are to be found. This is an area besieged bythe marching tide of Spain's EU-fundedagricultural revolution . and a noose of roads that grows ever tighter as Seville and its suburbs expand. On this tour we will spend all of our timeenjoying the mammals and birds withinthese two, quite different, Iberian Lynxhabitats. Past experience suggests that,on average, Naturetrek groups have beenrewarded with a Lynx sighting for every 30to 40 hours spent within Lynx habitat. Wetherefore have a realistic chance of seeingthis rare animal on this holiday, but wemust look upon a sighting as a bonus toour enjoyment of the other wildlife of theseareas, rather than a sole aim in itself.We begin in El Rocío, a delightful andelegant village that overlooks the lagoon,river and marshlands that lie within theCoto Doñana National Park, one of thefinest wetlands in Europe. With its white-washed buildings (that include amagnificent church) and its unmetalledsandy streets, there is something of theAmerican Wild West about this village! Italso makes a fine base for our 2-night stayin the region, from where we will head outbefore dawn, and again in the afternoon,to ensure that we are in the best places forLynx at the best times of day. Exploringthe mosaic of marshes, Stone Pinewoodland, and open grassland andheathland, we are likely to encounter Redand Fallow Deer, Hares and Rabbits,potentially all to be found on the menu ofthe Lynx. We will also enjoy the hugenumbers of birds of prey that pass throughthe park, together with numerous othermigrants, amongst them storks, herons,waders, ducks, gulls and terns. We willlook, too, for some of the region'sspecialities, amongst them PurpleGallinule, Marbled Teal, Crested Coot, therare Spanish Imperial Eagle (seven pairsof which breed here) and Red-neckedNightjar.We will then transfer to the hills,completing our holiday with a 3-night stayin the Sierra Morena where we will spendmuch of our time moving between scenicviewpoints. From each one we will be ableto scan vast tracts of Lynx habitat. Unlikein the Coto Doñana, sightings of Lynx andother animals here are often at long range,but the scenery is tremendous, and thebirdlife very rich, with Azure-wingedMagpies and Hawfinches particularlyabundant. Iberian LynxOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Seville and transferto the Coto Doñana. Day 2Coto Doñana.Day 3/5Sierra Morena.Day 6Return Seville; flyLondon.Accommodation A 2-centre holiday using clean andcomfortable village hotels, allrooms with private facilities. Food All included in the price.GradingGrade A. Some easy walks, butmuch of our tour will be spentwatching from viewpoints. Focus The plight of the Iberian Lynx,together with the rich variety ofboth birds and other mammalswhich share its realm. N.B. As well as being bothendangered and elusive, IberianLynx are mainly nocturnal. Anysighting must be considered abonus; it cannot be guaranteed!LeaderDavid Morris, Byron Palacios orJames Lees.Single room supplement£140.Web quick search: ESP08FRANCEPORTUGALTRUJILLOSEVILLESIERRAMORENAMÁLAGAEL ROCÍO,COTO DOÑANAGUADALQUIVIRRIVERMADRIDATLANTICOCEANMEDITERRANEAN SEASPAINSpain - Realm of the Iberian LynxA 6-day holiday to the lesser-known corners of the Coto Doñana and the rugged regions of the Sierra Morena, together the last refuge of the critically endangered Iberian Lynx, and home to a wealth of other mammals and birds.Thursday 20th September - Tuesday 25th September 2012 Cost: £995Monday 3rd December - Saturday 8th December 2012 Cost: £995Wednesday 30th January - Monday 4th February 2013 Cost: £995Monday 2nd December - Saturday 7th December 2013 Cost: £995Sierra MorenaSpanish Imperial Eagle

Traditionally, most birders visit themagnificent rolling steppes, ruggedsierras and Cork Oak woodland ofExtremadura in April and May, when thecountryside is besieged by migrants, andGreat Bustards are in full display. A birdingvisit in the crystal-clear light and relativelymild temperatures of winter, though, has itsown particular, very special, merit. We begin this holiday with a flight toMadrid, from where we head south-westthrough rolling hills, olive groves andwoodland to the central plateau ofExtremadura, where we find extensivesheep-grazed grasslands and the CorkOak forests known locally as 'dehasa'. Forall six nights we will be based in adelightful country house a short distancefrom the beautiful medieval town of Trujillo.With a lounge complete with open fire infront of which to complete our daily birdlog, a warm Spanish welcome and anenviable garden bird list, this is an ideallocality from which to explore the adjacentsteppes and Monfragüe National Park. Due in part to the shorter grass at this timeof year and the absence of any heat haze,Extremadura's many attractive residentbirds are much easier to see in winter thanat any other season. Stately Great Bustards(the world's heaviest flying bird) congregatein large numbers in their winter quarters,the males busily exercising their wings inreadiness for the annual spring-time battlefor a mate. Little Bustards, too, congregatein huge flocks of 500 or more and, as wescan the fallow steppes for flocks ofbustards, we may find Black-bellied or Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, and flocks of larks.Great Spotted Cuckoos, too, may be seen,for they return from Africa as early as mid-January, while Stone Curlews, Calandraand Thekla Larks, Corn Buntings, SouthernGrey Shrikes, Little Owls, Hoopoes,Spotless Starlings, Spanish Sparrows,Woodlarks, White Wagtails and magnificentfar-reaching winter vistas complete thepicture out on the plains. We'll also enjoy watching the unforgettableevening spectacle of Common Cranes, inflocks of 10,000-strong, as they fly in totheir night-time roosts. Making the most ofpurpose-built hides in the area, the sight ofthese Cranes coming in at dusk as thewinter light slips beneath the horizon willbe a highlight of the tour. Elsewhere, theregion's lakes should hold large numbersof wildfowl, Purple Gallinule, Black-neckedand other Grebes, plus Cattle, Little and afew Great White Egrets. Water Rails, Cetti'sWarblers and exquisite Bluethroats emergeto forage at the fringes of the wetlands andin damp channels, all so much easier tosee than ever they are in Britain! Patchesof woodland and scrub hold LesserSpotted Woodpeckers, Azure-wingedMagpies, Blackcaps, Sardinian andDartford Warblers, Firecrests, Short-toedTreecreepers, Crested and Iberian Long-tailed Tits, Serins, Siskins, Hawfinches and Cirl Buntings. In fact many of thesespecies may be seen within a stone'sthrow of our accommodation! On thehigher ground Alpine Accentors over-winter, while Chough, Black Redstart,Raven, Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush,Rock Bunting and Black Wheatear are allon the cards along with the resident andomnipresent Crag Martins.No mention of birding in Extremadura,however, can be made without reference tothe magnificent raptor-watchingopportunities. The onset of winter sees theBlack Kite being replaced by the Red, andby January Spanish Imperial Eagles aredisplaying over their nest sites - abreathtaking sight. Although the Short-toedand Booted Eagles will not return fromAfrica until early March, there is still plentyof variety, with Golden Eagles starting tonest and airborne Griffon and BlackVultures drawing our attention to anycarrion in the area. Bonelli's Eagles soar inbonding pairs, with Buzzards havingarrived for the winter by the thousand fromelsewhere in Europe. Other residentsinclude Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Peregrineand, of course, the stunning and muchsought-after Black-shouldered Kite,another species with a tendency to formwinter groups. Eagle Owls have mated bylate December, with the female usuallyincubating by January, calling for the maleat dusk to bring her food. We hope that alate afternoon visit to a special site willprovide a fitting climax to our holiday.Spain - Extremadura inWinter (& at Christmas!) A thorough 7-day winter exploration of the bird-rich steppes of Extremadura.Wednesday 14th November - Tuesday 20th November 2012 Cost: £1,195Saturday 22nd December - Friday 28th December 2012 Cost: £1,195Tuesday 5th February - Monday 11th February 2013 Cost: £1,195Tuesday 12th November - Monday 18th November 2013 Cost: £1,195Sunday 22nd December - Saturday 28th December 2013 Cost: £1,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly to Madrid, driveExtremadura.Day 2/6Daily programmeof birding excursionsfrom our base nearTrujillo.Day 7Fly London. AccommodationA beautifully restored andcomfortable country housein delightful surroundings; allrooms with private facilities.Food and wineAll included in the price.GradingGrade A. Day walks only.FocusBirds.LeaderDavid Morris or ByronPalacios. Single room supplement£195.Web quick search: ESP23& ESP28122Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryFRANCEPORTUGALTRUJILLOGREDOS MOUNTAINSSEVILLEGUADALQUIVIRRIVERMADRIDATLANTICOCEANMEDITERRANEANSEASPAINBluethroatCommon CraneGreat Bustards and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse