Eleven members set off on a sunny day for a morning’s drive to Andújar, in Jaén Province, where the three carloads all met up at miraculously similar times at the comfortable Hotel Del Val. We had a bite to eat, then made our way up into the wooded hills of the Sierra de Andújar, taking a minor road which leads towards the Embalse de Jandula. Wildflowers were spectacular, and birdsong was everywhere, with Nightingales serenading us along the way. A big flock of Siskin showed their yellow wingbars as they flew up into pines. When we paused, a Woodchat Shrike was soon found, and Golden Orioles sang from at least two places. Cuckoos called all around us, and a Wren skulked nearby. We Stopped again further on to look – from a respectful distance – at some fine fighting bulls, and found a migrating Whinchat was sharing their field. A herd of Fallow Deer trotted away as we approached. Red-rumped Swallows swooped around, but as we watched them, Dave’s sharp eyes spotted the bird of the day, as the unmistakeable ‘headlights’ of a Spanish Imperial Eagle came into view. Increasing slowly, but still a rare bird, with a population of only some 400 pairs, this huge eagle is endemic to Iberia, and always much sought-after. We watched several Griffon Vultures and later found a solitary Raven, then it was time to return to the comfort of our hotel.
Next morning, we made straight for the river which drains from the reservoir overflow, and the ‘mirador’ famed as a watchpoint for the Iberian Lynx. It seemed, however, that nobody had informed the rare felines, and we had to be content with a good collection of birds, Red Deer and a Green Lizard! Fran found some fascinating species of Damsel-flies, too. During a brief visit to the reservoir itself, we saw two more Imperial Eagles, Golden Eagle,and a Short-toed Eagle, as well as many small birds, and a puzzling raptor turned out to be a dark phase Booted Eagle. Despite the lack of a Lynx, it had been a good day.