James Lowen 


2017 TOP TEN: #7

The countdown remains in train.

#10. Best plant: "Roding Orchid"

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#9. Garden Hawfinch

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#8. Best twitch: White-winged Scoter

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#7. Best place: Picos de Europa, northern Spain

I have been lucky enough to travel to some wonderful locations this year, in part through research for my book 52 European Wildlife Weekends. Dense Estonian forests, saltpans in the Algarve, cork forests in Extremadura, Caledonian pine forests in Speyside, dune heath in Spey Bay etc etc. But one area really stole not just my heart, but that of my family too. We spent a wonderful fortnight in the Picos de Europa of northern Spain. It is a long time since I have been so captivated by a place as I was by the Picos. From a hotel garden riddled with quality amphibians to a rocky cliff starring Wallcreeper and Lammergeier.  From the most butterfly-rich site I have ever visited to a montane pass where habitually elusive Citril Finches were common. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Picos de Europa national park. I'll be going back to celebrate that achievement. What a place!