Friday, 1 March 2013

3 Little Wolves & The Big Bad Pig (Part 3)

We journeyed back across the meseta from Villafafila to the Sierras with one thing on our mind - finding Wolves. We were the first on the scene at the watchpoint with Simon & Karen's ever present Ford Fiesta arriving just as we were setting up. Setting up was not really a concept I needed to embrace particularly as on the first evening I had managed to shear the bolt holding my scope to its quick release plate and with my camera effectively out of action I only had my bins to work with. Diligently I continued with my task knowing that I was unlikely to be of much help in locating the Wolves.

The other guys all stuck to their task with gusto. Suddenly John piped up "I have movement, I don't think it is Deer".

We all zeroed in on where John was watching and 2 shapes, working through the heather soon became evident. Tension in voices stiffened as we tracked these shapes from the tree line and through broken scrub until they emerged in a clearing. They were canines and soon we were celebrating wildly as the came out briefly. The celebrations were premature after the first animal came out, a second in pure white also did. The also appeared short-haired with thin tails. Rapidly it became obvious to all that they were Mastins, the local breed of sheep dog. If we had only managed a brief view these could have gone down as Wolves so we were thankful to Mikes diligence. In the end we realised that they weren't even feral animals as a car was sat on a dirt track hidden by trees and the two dogs after looping round headed inexorably toward this before disappearing from view.

The sun was fading and we managed relatively little else of promise. The lack of other watchers made us think our best chance of connecting had passed. We were all feeling a little dejected and after hearing about the difficulties encountered by Steve Babbs' group we retired for dinner mentally disintegrated. The food was traditional locale fayre according to our cordial host but we sadly caused upset as the mushrooms tasted like salted slugs apparently (I didn't touch them as they looked rank) and the scrambled egg with prawns was not to my usual palette although we soldiered on gamely.

Despite the mish mash that was our evening meal (the only below standard food of our stay) we conspired to get into the Sierras on a night drive. 2 hours of slow driving later and we hadn't had much success with the exception of a mammal lifer for a couple of us, me included - an Iberian Hare. Initially taken to be a Rabbit, this species, formerly conspecific with European Hare looks like a halfway house between Hare & Rabbit but with the distinctive face of a Lepus sp. We crept back toward the posada to hit the hay, all completely ruined by our long day when a smart little Fox crossed our paths. At least we connected with one wild canine today!

I do have a video of a nightdrive but unfortunately it was taken midway through a bawdy story and as such would be inappropriate to put on here.

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