Ian Parsons has written more than 20 guest blogs here and so is a fairly familiar name to this blog’s readers. But when not writing for this blog he is a nature tour leader in Extremadura and this blog is about that land, west of Madrid and stretching to the Portuguese border, its wildlife and especially about its vultures.
This book takes us through the year, starting in April, and paints a picture of the wildlife of the plains, the cork oakwoods, the mountains and the few wetlands. Now I know the area quite well, having visited many times, and the reason that I have kept going back is that this is a sparsely populated, beautiful region of Spain that is rich in wildlife at all times of year. Turning the pages of this book reminded me of hot August days out on the plains, spring mornings in the woodlands and winter evenings watching Cranes heading to roost.
But this is not simply a good account of the changing seasons, it also has a lot of information about vultures in its pages. Ian Parsons is a vulture enthusiast and he writes about his observations of the three commonly seen species of Extremadura, Griffon, Black and Egyptian, and also of the Bearded Vulture which is being reintroduced to Spain and of other vulture species across the world, and their ecology and conservation.
Ian’s enthusiasm for this place, its varied wildlife and for vultures in particular leaps off the pages. He is a good observer of behaviour, well-versed in the biology of the species he sees and a good writer who brings the scenes to life.
I am a fan of vultueres too, but I think not as great a one as Ian (but since he writes a couple of good paragraphs about a male Hen Harrier then we’re clearly on the same wavelength) and I am a fan of this area so the book was a hit with me. My mind often takes me back to familiar roads through the plains north of Oropesa or south of Trujillo, and to woodlands and gorges along the River Tajo, and no more so than in these months of reduced travel when I would have loved to see Lesser Kestrels hovering as Great Bustards strutted through the grass and larks sang above, or Golden Orioles sang as wheatears called and martins and swifts flew overhead.
This book may entice you in future years to visit this area, perhaps with Ian as your guide, but even if you never visit, reading his observations and thoughts, particularly about vultures, will reward your investment.
The book is well produced with a large number of quality colour photographs by the author.
A Vulture Landscape: 12 months in Extremadura by Ian Parsons is published by Whittles Publishing.