A Vulture Landscape – 12 months in Extremadura

A Vulture Landscape – 12 months in Extremadura follows a year in the lives of these huge, magnificent birds that make this part of southern Europe their home.

A juvenile griffon vulture showing the dark grey bill and brown ruff that distinguish it from an adult. © Ian Parsons

About the photographer

Ian Parsons spent twenty years working as a Ranger, before he set up his specialised bird tour business, Griffon Holidays. He based the business in the bird rich paradise of Extremadura in central Spain, a region he first visited in the early 1990s, seeing his first ever vulture there and changing his life forever. Ian regularly writes articles for Bird Watching magazine and is a keen conservationist and wildlife lover, with a particular fondness for all things vulturine.

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About the book

The book looks at how the vultures of Southern Europe, and their cousins in the wider world, fit in to the modern world in which we live, along the way the book also introduces many of the other wildlife species that share Europe’s vulture landscape with these masters of the air.

The griffon, the black and the Egyptian vulture are the three main protagonists of A Vulture Landscape – 12 months in Extremadura, they’re specialist birds performing a vital role in their landscape, vultures are nature’s environmental cleansers. Amongst the most flight efficient of all birds, they are fabulous to watch as they use their broad, sail like wings to ride the rivers of air without expending any energy.

They will fly hundreds of kilometres every day over the landscape of Extremadura, a landscape of rocky ridges, gorge like rivers and rolling plains. Both the vultures and the landscape in which they live are an exhilarating joy.


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To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right hand corner of the photos below.

A young black vulture in amongst the wild flowers of the Extremaduran plain. © Ian Parsons
A young black vulture in amongst the wild flowers of the Extremaduran plain. © Ian Parsons
A griffon vulture arriving late at a sheep carcass on the wide open plains. © Ian Parsons
A griffon vulture arriving late at a sheep carcass on the wide open plains. © Ian Parsons
Griffon vultures have a wingspan of around 2.70m. © Ian Parsons
Griffon vultures have a wingspan of around 2.70m. © Ian Parsons
Griffon vulture in flight, their huge broad, sail like wings enable them to ride the rivers of air with consummate ease. © Ian Parsons
Griffon vulture in flight, their huge broad, sail like wings enable them to ride the rivers of air with consummate ease. © Ian Parsons
The distinctive rectangular shaped wings of the European black vulture. © Ian Parsons
The distinctive rectangular shaped wings of the European black vulture. © Ian Parsons
The blue skies of Extremadura can rapidly fill up with vultures when a carcass is spotted. © Ian Parsons
The blue skies of Extremadura can rapidly fill up with vultures when a carcass is spotted. © Ian Parsons
A juvenile griffon vulture showing the dark grey bill and brown ruff that distinguish it from an adult. © Ian Parsons
A juvenile griffon vulture showing the dark grey bill and brown ruff that distinguish it from an adult. © Ian Parsons
Following rain vultures will hang their wings out to dry in the manner of cormorants. © Ian Parsons
Following rain vultures will hang their wings out to dry in the manner of cormorants. © Ian Parsons
Dehesa is a common land use in Extremadura, a mixture of Evergreen oaks and pasture. © Ian Parsons
Dehesa is a common land use in Extremadura, a mixture of Evergreen oaks and pasture. © Ian Parsons
The Rio Salor valley lies in the very heart of the vulture landscape. © Ian Parsons
The Rio Salor valley lies in the very heart of the vulture landscape. © Ian Parsons
The plains can seem like desolate empty places, but they are full of wonderful birds. © Ian Parsons
The plains can seem like desolate empty places, but they are full of wonderful birds. © Ian Parsons
Broom and Cistus flank a track in the Sierra de San Pedro. © Ian Parsons
Broom and Cistus flank a track in the Sierra de San Pedro. © Ian Parsons
A Bonelli’s eagle is one of five eagle species that share the skies of the vulture landscape. © Ian Parsons
A Bonelli’s eagle is one of five eagle species that share the skies of the vulture landscape. © Ian Parsons
A bee-eater, a common spring and summer bird in Extremadura and a real feast for the eyes! © Ian Parsons
A bee-eater, a common spring and summer bird in Extremadura and a real feast for the eyes! © Ian Parsons
Azure-winged magpies are very common birds in the vulture landscape. © Ian Parsons
Azure-winged magpies are very common birds in the vulture landscape. © Ian Parsons
The blue rock thrush is a bird that lives up to its name! © Ian Parsons
The blue rock thrush is a bird that lives up to its name! © Ian Parsons
The wonderful hoopoe provides an onomatopoeic soundtrack throughout the year. © Ian Parson
The wonderful hoopoe provides an onomatopoeic soundtrack throughout the year. © Ian Parson
White storks are a common sight throughout the area, often nesting right in the heart of villages and towns. © Ian Parsons
White storks are a common sight throughout the area, often nesting right in the heart of villages and towns. © Ian Parsons