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South of Spain, the expedition begins.

We're off to the South of Spain.


Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th February 2023


We’re finally ready to go. Our cars have been a bit needy over the last weeks, but we are sorted now. Departure from Glastonbury, a couple of hours drive to Portsmouth and catching the ferry leaving at 21.30, we’ll arrive in Spain at 8 am two days after.

The SWExpedition begins! Read more about our next year and a-half-journey here.


Click on the video above to see where we are.


The ferry to Santander was meant to be peaceful, a good day to be offline, go through old recordings and tidy up our servers to have it ready for the upcoming one and a half year-long expedition. The first night wasn’t too bad. We did manage to get some sleep. Advice, bring a yoga mat and a pillow. It's much better than sleeping on those horrible “wanna-be comfy chairs”.


The morning went super well, we even split a delightful English breakfast (hear our sarcasm), and then at midday, the joy began. The ferry started rocking like crazy making us feel so sick, it wasn’t possible to walk straight, and from there until 11 am we barely managed to leave the table with all our equipment. It took us probably one hour to pack two hard drives and a laptop.

There is nothing a good sleep can’t fix, time to wake up and we’re in Espana!


 

First stop and surprise! Some of the biggest migratory birds in Europe.


Wednesday 8th February 2023


The first country we have to visit is such a wonderful place. We couldn’t wait to get some fresh fruit and some Fuet, a must-have in our storage.

It’s time to head south. We’re one week behind our schedule and we want to reach Donana National Park in 3 days max. A straight drive would be 10 hours, but we don’t want to do a long drive in one go anymore, after that 17 hours we did two Christmas Eves ago. First stop, Salamanca!




Ario found a great location to camp near a lake, so we managed to have some fun also on some off-road tracks.



With much surprise, the first migratory birds, Common Cranes! These don’t migrate down to Africa, but after doing a bit of research on our apps it seems that these are the ones which we may have encountered two October ago in Sweden at Lake Hornborga. They winter in Spain and then migrate North to nest and raise their young. We love Common Cranes, they are so majestic, and you can hear them trumpeting like crazy from afar. How can you not love such a sound? A pure cacophony of trumpets, you can’t miss them.


Cranes at the Lake Hornborga, Sweden, October 2021. Taken by Ario, Sony A7iii and Sony 200-600mm


A recording from the same period in Sweden, this time around they were too far from us. If you ever see birds flying in groups around Europe and you hear them trumpeting like here, you're witnessing Common Cranes!



Recorded by Axel, Wildtronics parabolic microphone and Zoom F6.

 

Second stop, Raptor's Paradise.


Thursday 9th February 2023


We prefer to avoid motorways when driving long distances, mainly because they’re boring and monotonous. We like to explore, see green spaces, and a lot of times we come across wildlife just because we’ve avoided major busy roads. Our Catalan friend and incredible ornithologist, Arnau Sargatal, advised us to visit Trujillo if we were going to drive through Extremadura. This city wasn’t exactly on our route, but we decided to do a deviation and enter this region, which is a wildlife paradise.





Just a few kilometres after entering this arid, hilly habitat, we spot the first two Griffon Vultures, WOW. We’re always impressed by the size of those incredible birds, which don’t like to do many wing beats, instead, they use thermals to hover around. We keep driving, and another 5 or 10+ vultures, it starts getting a bit crazy, until we reach the Mirador del Salto del Gitano. Hundreds of 1.6-meter wingspan Griffon Vultures flying, even a few meters away from us, completely crazy. We decided to camp not far so Ario could go and take some pictures early in the morning. Axel also managed to record some sounds. It was wonderful to see so many, what an experience. Seeing them so close makes me appreciate how beautiful these birds are.



Taken by Ario, Sony A7iii and Sony 200-600mm.



They do make some strange grunts, but it was beautiful to hear them flying this time around.





Recorded by Axel, Wildtronics parabolic microphone with Zoom F6.

 

Tunes of the trip!


Axel's tune of the trip was Bonnie Hill by Jungle, what a band!





Ario has made a full playlist for you to listen to.





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