The Lammergeier centre of Europe

This year Mayday meant a 4-day bank holiday and so a family excursion to the Pyrenees of Aragón was hastily arranged.

Fortunately we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather for the two days of our trip. The old quarter of Aínsa was the designated drinks stop. Now Aínsa is a historical-artistic monument, which was sure to please the wife, but the main reason for stopping here was to show my family the marvellous Eco-museum that I had discovered a couple of years before.

The Ecomuseum in Aínsa was set up and is run by the Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos (FCQ) (Lammergeier Conservation Foundation), whose main objective is to promote the conservation of the Lammergeier in the Spanish Pyrenees and beyond.

The building itself is built into the wall of the wonderfully restored old quarters of Aínsa and has a ground level annexe used as a raptor refuge (for injured birds and environmental education). But it is the museum itself, and the extremely well thought out and crafted exhibits, displays and models that impress the most.

We all really loved the mountain bioclimatic strata display (that’s not the official name!) whereby each floor represents the ecosystems of the Pyrenees at different altitudes: the ground floor is the forest floor with Capercaillie, Black Woodpecker, Tengmalm’s Owl and more; the first floor reflects life near the treeline and rock faces – stars here are Wallcreeper, Eagle Owl, Golden Eagle ……; and the upper floor represents the Alpine environment of high peaks with Snow Finch, Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Ptarmigan, etc.

The models were specially commissioned, bird song sounds out as you look, and the experience should not be missed.

My eldest son was so enthused that he got me to buy him a pack of raptor identification cards which he put to very good use over the subsequent days. That in itself made the visit worthwhile.

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