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Magnus Elander – Torla, Spain II

November 25th, 2008 Posted in Southern Europe, Uncategorized

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magnus_e_portraitIn the late afternoon of Nov 8 we continued to the high Pyrenees and the Parque Nacional de Ordesa. Julian Gayarre had arranged accommodation in the city of Torla at an altitude of 1005 metres. After a very late (normal Spanish time) dinner, we met Manuel Graza, who is in charge of the Lammergeier program in Aragón. Manuel has been operating a feeding site on the slopes of Tozal del Rebollar (2.354 metres) since 2004. Manuel proudly announced I would be the first to take pictures in a snowy setting this year. What he didn’t mention was that the snow meant that we had to walk up on snow-shoes with all the equipment and loads of vulture meat and bones.


The following day we left the hotel early in the morning (long before breakfast appeared in the dining room). Half an hour in our 4WD on a narrow, winding track took us up to the snow line. With difficulty we turned the car on the slippery shelf carved out from the mountainside they called road. One hour and fifteen minutes walk with heavy burdens in deep snow and a lot of sweat later, we finally entered the hide. With binoculars we were now able to spot our hotel down in the valley, 1.000 metres below.


This wooden hide had much more elbow space than the previous one, by comparison. Both Stefan, the assistant, and I could sit in. But there was only room for one with a big lens. We put all our equipment in place, stored the meat under a canvas and headed down again. Manana, tomorrow, I would be prepared to start shooting.


Another early wake-up-call. Dirt track driving, walking with snowshoes. En route we spotted several chamoix in the uppermost forests. And suffered more sweat before finally entering the hide. Carcass meat and bones were spread out 25 metres away on a snowy rock. The background was the steep mountain slope on the other side of Valle de Tena and the magnificent entrance to Ordesa. Griffons came first. Some 15 birds. Together with Ravens and Black Crows. Then one Lammergeier. Then a few more. Both immatures and adults.


We spent five full days here. Walking up and down the mountain every day, except one day off to rest our legs. Manuel was assiduous. Every day with a heavy load of chopped carcasses. Weather was mostly sunny but the last two days came with very gusty hurricane winds and some spells of snow. And temperature dropped below zero. Besides the vultures we were every day accompanied by Alpine Accentors, a Red Kite, a Golden Eagle at the hide and Kinglets and Coal Tits in the fir trees below us.

Reluctantly we left the magnificent surroundings of Torla on Nov 15 and started to backtrack our way towards Girona. We had great days with many close encounters with Lammergeiers and Griffons. And best of all, in my bag I had a harddisc with dozens of Gigabytes of fresh pictures of our target birds. Mission completed!

Magnus Elander

Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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  1. 5 Responses to “Magnus Elander – Torla, Spain II”

  2. By Ole Jørgen Liodden on Nov 27, 2008

    Great pictures!
    I really like the fights and griffons walking on snow.

  3. By Kristel on Nov 30, 2008

    Hi great action shots!
    I imagine you have a great time over there. Keep up the good work.

    (Visit my blog: http://auvergnephoto.wordpress.com/)

  4. By Bridget Wijnberg on Dec 12, 2008

    Super super images and just love your description of your time out there Magnus! :) You must be very fit now after all that climbing, bones and meat in tow! The contrast of the snow makes it very unique and interesting. And I laughed at the picture of your upside down garbage bin in the previous blog!

  5. By Bruno D'Amicis on Jan 9, 2009


    stunning images. I love the vulture walking and the monocromatic background of the flight shot. Great work!

  6. By HitchHikers Handbook on Sep 26, 2013

    Hey Magnus, We have been checking out your blog and we must say that we are very impressed. It’s really great.

    We have particularly been following your posts about Torla as we visited there too. We have even written a guide, which you can check out here: http://hitchhikershandbook.com/country-guides/spain-2/torla/ . We would love your feedback and any tips, information, advice that you might have would be warmly appreciated.

    Keep up the good work!

    Ania & Jon

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