El Chorro Gorge forms a deep indent running north-west to south-east into the limestone cliffs in the Sierra Cazorla near Cazorla itself. The viewing points are on top of the gorge. During the morning it is best to have the sun behind you and watch from the eastern edge whilst during the afternoon the sun will be behind you if you are on the western side. Afternoon viewing is best since the thermals will be stronger than in the morning and the cloud that often envelopes these high peaks first thing should hopefully have dissipated. There is a good hide on the western side, very welcome when the sun is beating down.
You are almost certain to see Griffon Vultures. When we were there the young vultures were on the nests and the parents were swooping in to drop food off for them. Just about every hole in the opposite cliff face had a young vulture in it. They sit right at the back of the hole, almost invisible until the parent appears then shuffle forward to take whatever titbit is being offered. The area is also known for its Booted Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. When not watching the vultures Choughs and Ravens entertain with flying displays whilst Black Redstarts flit around looking for flies in the low scrub.
If you are lucky to be there just after the vultures have taken wing you will find them swooping up from below and ghosting past just overhead. It is quite unnerving since they are almost close enough to touch and they stare at you with a fixed beedy eye, no doubt weighing up their next meal. The wingspan is up to 280 cms, 9 feet, they are not small birds.
All that chattering, accompanied by formation aerobatics, is from the red-billed choughs that seem to favour the gorge. Keep your eyes open for the blue rock thrush and black redstart as well.
Location: El Chorro Gorge, Sierra de Cazorla Segura y Las Villas, Jaen Province
Date of Visit: Friday 15th June 2015
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Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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