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John's autumn 2011 wildlife tours

John Muddeman
23/07/2011 01:14:58

A quick overview of my tours for autumn 2011 and big changes for 2012

Posted in: Butterflies and Moths, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds | Extremadura | Mainland Spain, Western Spain, Non-Iberian

Between now and the end of the year, I now have two of the Little-Bustard-male © John MuddemanLittle Bustard male
Tetrax tetrax
© John Muddeman
four possible trips confirmed with The Travelling Naturalist. Due to a mix-up, I’ll be second leader in Eastern Austria if at least 4 more participants appear before late August and sadly for me, after last year’s ground-breaking trip, Estonia is currently only running with a local leader.

However, the autumn tour to Extremadura from 1st – 8th October is running again, albeit on minimum numbers, and remains a superb destination. Once again we aim to see a wide range of the resident, migrant and perhaps even early-arriving wintering species, and the opportunities to see post-breeding groups of resident steppe-dwelling species such as Great and Little Bustards, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Calandra Lark, amongst others, are perhaps at their best. Summer usually stills hangs on here around this time and the fine weather means we can also spend some time looking at the autumn butterflies and dragonflies which should still be around, including some choice species such as Woodland Grayling and Long and Epaulet Skimmers.

Long-tailed Sylph © John MuddemanLong-tailed Sylph© John MuddemanI am also delighted to be returning to Galápagos & Ecuador for my fifth tour there, leaving on 27th October and returning mid-November. After 4 trips there in just 3 years, it’s now been several years since I last visited, but with the likes of a fantastic variety of species from Galápagos Penguin, Shark and Fur Seal ‘on’ the islands through to Andean Condor, Sword-billed Hummingbird and some exquisite butterflies and other insects in the remarkable cloud forests on the mainland, it certainly won’t disappoint! With a new itinerary imposed by the Galápagos authorities, we’re also visiting a couple of new islands for us, including Genovesa, where the braver snorkelers will hopefully get close views of Hammerhead Sharks!

This tour will be something of a landmark, since it will almost certainly be my last for The Travelling Naturalist. Something of a bitter-sweet end when thinking back to my very first trip to Islay for TN way back in October 1996 alongside Keith Grant (who I have to thank for getting me into all this!). But I am simply moving on, and apart from looking at promoting more of my own tours as part of Iberian Wildlife Tours (including co-leading two trips with Teresa), I am also going into collaboration with Spainbirds Nature Tours. My former rival there, Santiago Villa, is also one of my longest-standing friends here in Spain. As he’s worked off his feet, especially with tours for Spanish clients via the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife), it’s a good time to get involved, not only for domestic tours and to take on and 'rejuvenate' his group tours for English-speaking clients in Spain, but also to help promote the fact that he’s the only specialist Tour Operator fully registered as a Travel Agent in Spain, and so able to legally offer packages, naturally with all the guarantees this affords to clients. We also have plans to expand the range of trips available, for example to include butterflies and Two-tailed-Pasha - Charaxes-j © John MuddemanTwo-tailed Pasha
Charaxes jasius
© L. Herrera Álvarez
dragonflies as well as birds, since as of last summer I have also taken a far more intense interest in these locally, including the discovery of a couple of very scarce and internationally protected dragon- and damselflies and includes finding another Two-tailed Pasha in my village, significantly increasing its (very limited) known range in Madrid.

Finally, I will also be at the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water this year (19th -21st August) for the first time in three years. So if you happen to be going, please look for me on the Spainbirds Nature Tours stand in Marquee 1 or feel free to stop me if you see me wandering around!

Of course, I can also be reached at any time via my links in the Iberian Wildlife Tours website.

With very best wishes (and congratulations if you’ve reached the end!), John Muddeman

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