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A Report from

The Pyrenees, Cadí-Moixeró – Catalonia, Spain,

Stephen Christopher

I quite understand why everyone wants to visit the Pyrenees when they come to Spain to watch birds, as there certainly is an air of magic about the place.

It's not just because of the calm tranquility or the clean, crispness of the air, but somehow everything looks different. The lines and colours of even a humble Linnet seem to jump out and smack you so hard in the face that you'd swear you'd discovered a new species.

But that's not all. Like a true magician the Pyrenees seem to know exactly what the audience want and deliberately take its time to cast its spell.

Of course it’s no mystery that everyone's here for the Wallcreeper, Black Woodpecker and Lammergeier but no one complains as their attention is distracted by the treetop acrobatic display put on by Firecrest, Crossbill and Crested Tit.

Some birds seemingly try to make up for a lack of such ability by at least dressing for the occasion and the startling pink of the proud Water Pipit certainly succeeds. The Ring Ouzel though seems less happy as it flitters about from bush to bush in an apparent huff, perhaps because the Dipper has arrived wearing the same coat!

Of course some prefer not to show off at all and the Alpine Accentor, Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting merely industriously go about their business like a busy backstage crew.

But perhaps this is the ultimate in sleight of hand as it was whilst watching just such a bird - the stunningly beautiful and under-appreciated Citril Finch - that the master magician finally played its card on me and, suddenly appearing out of nowhere, an armada of Griffon Vultures sailed majestically into my line of sight not twenty metres in the valley below me. And at its head, my very first Lammergeier.

Stephen Christopher


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