Ibon de la Sierra

Rincon de Balsera

The cirque of Rincon de Balsera

Explored the remote Ibon de la Sierra and was rewarded with great views and wildlife including a lammergeier, chamois, kestrels and my first marmots of the season.

It’s an area of the Valle de Tena that I’d wanted to hike in for ages but never seemed to get round to it. It’s a long walk in but really worth it as you get to some really wild valleys lying under the imposing peak of Punta Escarra.

Stemless Gentians

Stemless Gentians – one of my favourite early flowers

The weather’s been beatiful the last couple of weeks and the spring flowers are really starting to come out. Saw my first orchids of the season – elder flowered orchids. These come in both yellow and purple but both are the same species and can be seen in their thousands in June. In sunnier spots gentians were out too – mainly spring gentians but a couple of patches of lovely stemless gentians.Where the snow had recently melted a few alpine snowbells were coming out too – these are fantastically delicate and spring out of the ground as soon as the snow cover has gone.

Alpine snowbell

Alpine snowbell

The marmots have come out of hibernation and I heard lots of warning whistles and saw plenty of them grazing on the fresh grass.

Pyrenees marmot

My first marmot of the season

Also saw a group of Chamois – one of which posed silhouetted on a small peak nearby.

Chamois posing on a ridge

When I got to Ibon de Sierra I was quite surprised to find it covered in ice which was a bit surreal as I was hiking in sorts and t-shirts. I was even more surprised to see several fully grown frogs swimming under the ice – they must survive all winter under there.

Ibon de la Sierra

The wildlife highlight of the day was a lammergeier flying close overhead. I could really see it’s colours and get an idea of it’s huge wingspan (which can be over 2.5 metres). Its always a delight to see these vultures.

LammergeierGreat day out and a good new area discovered that I’m sure I’ll be visiting again this summer.

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