October flowers in the Sierra de Grazalema

Autumn flowering bulbs are a favourite at this time of year, but you generally have to have keen eyes to find them as they can be very small and well hidden. On the contrary the Autumn Buttercup can turn a rugged hillside yellow with its shiny, rich yellow, blooms. Autumn doesn’t necessarily mean colourful leaves about to fall, as many trees here are evergreen. The Narrow-leaved Ash seems to be the first to turn yellow with tall Poplars following shortly. The deciduous oaks may retain their leaves until the buds shoot again in the new year, unless strong winds shake them free. Continue reading October flowers in the Sierra de Grazalema

Summer insects in the Sierra de Grazalema

Summer time is when many insects reach the adult phase of their life. They may have spent months, even years as a larva, drab in colour and unable to move far, possibly living underwater or underground. Now, in this last stage of their lifecycle, they might be brightly coloured, able to fly or to emit sounds and so they become more obvious to us. Insects are a very important part of the food chain on which we depend. Continue reading Summer insects in the Sierra de Grazalema

March – Plants of the month

MARCH. As shrubs begin to show colour, spring is becoming more obvious and this alters from when we enter the month with a few shy blooms, to crossing into April with the “now in flower” list ever increasing. Over the first two weeks of March, the plants in flower are scattered and you need to know where to look, during the third and fourth weeks the selection grows with colour cropping up on roadsides, pastures, rocky slopes and river valleys. Continue reading March – Plants of the month

The Stone Pine, an iconic tree of the Mediterranean

This evergreen tree is most easily recognized by its outline, the dense crown is almost a round globe in young specimens whereas in older trees it is shaped like a wide spread parasol, supported on large, elegant radial branches. It originates from the Mediterranean area and is popular there and elsewhere as a cultivated tree. It is favoured both for its attractive form and edible pine kernels. For around 6000 years pine nuts have been collected as nutritional snacks! Continue reading The Stone Pine, an iconic tree of the Mediterranean

Short-toed Eagles in the natural park of Grazalema

March brings a great joy for lovers of these spectacular birds when yet again they have made it across the Strait of Gibraltar to their breeding grounds in Europe. The first single birds start appearing at the end of February but the massive migration comes in March, when clouds of birds can be seen entering continental Europe.

This Eagle´s appearance and its habits make it a treat to watch, whether you are a seasoned birder, a casual nature lover or a walker who maybe has never seen an eagle before.  Once you have spotted this easy-to-identify, pale, graceful silhouette against the blue Andalucían sky, hovering like a kestrel while scanning the limestone rocks and scrub to find prey, you just may become a life-long fan. Continue reading Short-toed Eagles in the natural park of Grazalema

The Griffon Vultures of Grazalema (Gyps fulvus, Buitre Leonado)

Visible all year in the natural Park of Grazalema this bird is larger than an eagle, with a wingspan of up to 260 cm (8.53 Ft). In flight, their wings are broad, with the primaries (finger-like feathers) usually clearly visible; the tail is short, and the neck retracted. It has buff brown coloured plumage on the back, stomach and the anterior band of the wings, while the rest of the wing feathers and tail are dark brown. The head and long neck are covered with white down and there is a distinctive collar of long feathers. On adults the bill is yellow and collar white, whilst on juveniles the bill is grey and collar pale brown. They feed on carrion, most of the time in a state of decay and at other times in an initial stage (especialy large mammals). The carcasses left out by farmers are also an important part of the diet of these birds. Continue reading The Griffon Vultures of Grazalema (Gyps fulvus, Buitre Leonado)