Category Archives: Wildlife

Botanical Garden Detunda (Nerja Cave)

The Botanical Garden of Detunda (Nerja Cave) can be found next to the Cueva de Nerja, in Maro, a small village close to the town of Nerja.

Located right on the edge of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park, which includes the mountains of the southwestern area of ​​Granada and the eastern area of ​​Malaga.

This is a natural space of great beauty with an intermediate location between the mountains and the coast. The area holds a great geological variety that together with the unique climatic characteristics provides a large variety of habitats. This allows the presence of a varied flora including some endemic species.

The garden aims to represent the flora and plant landscape of the mountains of Tejeda, Almijara, Alhama, Huétor, Arana, mountains of Malaga, the limestone-dolomitic border of Sierra Nevada (Trevenque peak) and coastal areas between Malaga and Motril.

It contains a great diversity of species and ecologies, but if one must be highlighted above the others, it may be the abundance of exclusive plants of dolomitic sands (dolomithophilic species), almost all of them rare and many exclusive to these mountains.

A visit to the Botanical Garden Detunda (Nerja Cave)

From the start point there are fantastic views down to the coast and of the surrounding scenery. The garden is organized into different areas such as traditional crops, vegetation linked to the climate and vegetation linked to special soils, ecosystems, habitat (rock formations), taxonomic (taxonomic families) and singularity (rare and threatened), etc.

Following the entrance path you cross the area of ​​traditional crops such as almond and olive tree and also other more modern ones that have adapted to the subtropical climate of the area (custard apples, avocados and mangoes.) Included in this area are the typical muscat grape vines of the region and other crops such as sugar cane.

Once past the crops, the path descends towards the “sea”. The natural ecosystems have been represented starting with the most mountainous and, as one descends, ending in the coastal and sandy beaches.

My favorite part of the garden is at the lowest point by the lagoon and the “sands of the beach” area where you can find the starry sea daisy (Asteriscus maritimus), the sea lily (Pancratium maritimus) or the exclusive saladilla endemic to Malaga province (Limonium malacitanum).

A visit to the Botanical Garden Detunda (Nerja Cave)
The laguna area on a visit to the Botanical Garden Detunda (Nerja Cave)

Continuing you will come to the garden area dedicated to the plant communities that depend on certain soil and microclimatic characteristics This area represents beach sand, salt marshes, gypsum areas, rock communities, ponds and banks. An extensive representation of those species typical of dolomitic substrates, and other ecosystems typical of soils free of lime (calcium carbonate) such as cork oaks, holm oaks and oak forests.

The route through the garden is circular so you will arrive back at the cultivation area. Continue in the direction of the classroom-workshop to find the collection of endemic and threatened species of the area such as Maytenus senegalensis or the olive Cneorum tricoccon

Opening times

Tuesdays to Sundays 9am to 3pm

Closed on Mondays and the 24th, 25th and 31st of December


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

El Aljibe Botanic Gardens in Alcalá de los Gazules

Part of a network of Botanic Gardens in Andalusia and aimed at preserving the local endemic flora, El Aljibe Botanic Gardens in Alcalá de los Gazules specialises in the plant-life within the Los Alcornocales Natural Park.

This is a small but very informative botanic garden covering about one hectare on the western edge of the Los Alcornocales oak forest easily accessed from the newly upgraded A381 dual carriageway. The gardens, which were begun in 2003 and inaugurated in July 2008, are well labelled with information not just about the plants but also the rock structures and terrain/habitat that support them.

These gardens are characterised by the sandstone terrain of their namesake, El Aljibe, which is the highest peak in the Los Alcornocales parkland. The vegetation is verdant due to the rainfall and fog created by its proximity to the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean and by the mild winter temperatures.

Aljilbe botanic garden in Alcala de los Gazules
Informative maps in the Aljilbe botanic garden in Alcala de los Gazules

The layout of the gardens makes good use of a small area by curving the paths which are screened from each other by the trees. A water way dissects this to represent the steep v shaped ‘Canutos’ that these oak forests are famed for. The pathways of stone or wood are well laid and only gently sloped, allowing for an easy amble that demonstrates the different zones of the area.

Map boards explain the overall layout, with smaller signs giving more detailed information on particular vegetation types. (In Spanish)

Signs are very informative with scientific names allowing you to identify a plant then look it up later on Google :)
The yellow spot means that the plant is not endangered.

Most of the plants have signs which give scientific species name, inc sub-species, family, common Spanish name, its distribution and also if it is in endanger of extinction. The latter is shown in the form of a coloured spot, Red Yellow or Green.

The gardens collect plants or seeds from the local habitat concentrating on the emblematic and those most endangered to aid in their preservation.

The botanic gardens network aims to raise awareness in youngsters by holding educational fun days and also ‘introduction to botany’ days for adults.

El Aljibe’ contains around 185 trees and shrubs protected by law, some of which are included in the “Lista Roja de la Flora vascular de Andalucía”, Red list of endangered vascular plants of Andalusia. There are 300 different species of perennials and the range will continue to expand. Some of the plant species that are most noteworthy within this area are Cork Oak (Quercus suber), Pyrenean Oak (Quercus pyrenaica), Portuguese Oak (Quercus lusitanica), Canary Island Oak (Quercus canariensis), Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus subsp baetica), Gorse species Stauracanthus boivinii, Whisk Fern (Psilotum nudum), a European Tree Fern Culcita macrocarpa and Diplazium caudatum.

Signs are very informative with scientific names allowing you to identify a plant then look it up later on Google :)
Signs are very informative with scientific names allowing you to identify a plant then look it up later on Google 🙂

The botanic gardens are fronted by the ‘Los Alcornocales visitors centre’ containing shop, restaurant and study rooms. Access is through the quadrangle behind the main building. (On my last visit the information centre, café etc were closed but I was still able to access the gardens)

Entrance Free is free

Getting to El Aljibe Botanic Gardens in Alcalá de los Gazules

Take the exit at kilometre 42 on the A-381 dual-carriageway (Jerez to Los Barrios) sign posted as Alcalá de los Gazules / Benalup-Casas Viejas.

El Aljibe Botanic Gardens inAlcalá de los Gazules is behind the natural Park information centre
El Aljibe Botanic Gardens inAlcalá de los Gazules is behind the natural Park information centre

Drive towards Benalup for 1km and the gardens are behind the “Centro de visitantes del Parque Natural de los Alcornocales” The visitors centre for the Los Alcornocales Natural Park.


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

Western Three-toed Skink

  • Spanish: Eslizón tridáctilo
  • Scientific: Chalcides striatus
  • English: Western Three-toed Skink
  • French: Scinque à trois doigts
  • German: Westliche Erzschleiche
  • Italian: Luscengola striata
  • Portuguese: Cobra-de-pernas-tridáctila

Description

Notable in the Western Three-toed Skink is the elongated serpent like body, often reaching lengths around 30 cm in total (12 inches). An intact tail can be longer than the head-body in length. Colouration is yellowish to brown or more often grey, with a metallic sheen.

They have 9 or more narrow, dark longitudinal stripes. The limbs are very short and have only 3 digits. It is very agile and fast as it moves across the surface. Females normally exceed males in length.

chalcides striatus – eslizón tridáctilo – western three-toed skink
chalcides striatus – eslizón tridáctilo – western three-toed skink – Tiny legs with just three toes

On the hottest days they restrict their movement to early in the morning or late evening remaining hidden during the main heat of the day and so regulating their body temperature. They prefer damp meadows and cool hillsides including seasonally flooded areas, abandoned fields, hedges and land with abundant herbaceous vegetation.

The Western Three-toed Skink feeds mainly on insects – crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and spiders and worms etc.

Between March and June the breeding season begins. Between two and three months after mating, females give birth to 1 – 12 fully formed young. They are ovoviviparous (able to incubate the eggs inside the female)

  • Conservation Status: LC. Least Concern – The IUCN has listed the western three-toed skink as being of “Least Concern” because of its wide range and the fact that it is very common in some parts of its range. It is nevertheless threatened by changes in agricultural practices resulting in degradation of its habitat. In some areas it is persecuted because it is mistakenly thought to be venomous.
  • Distribution: Portugal, Spain, the Mediterranean coast of France, NW Italy.

Similar species: Bedriagai’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai)


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

Bedriaga’s skink

  • Spanish: Eslizón Ibérico
  • Scientific: Chalcides bedriagai
  • English: Bedriagas Skink
  • French: Scinque iberique
  • German: Iberische Walzenskink
  • Italian: Lo scinco di bedriaga
  • Portuguese: Cobra-de-pernas-pentadáctila

Description

Bedriaga’s skink, a small reptile with four visible limbs, although very short (almost atrophied) with 5 digits to each. To move quickly, it holds its limbs against its body and moves like a snake. It is covered with smooth, shiny scales of variable tones: from copper to greyish brown or olive green, dotted with small black spots with pale centres and faintly marked stripes. Adults can reach up to 14 cm (5½ inches) in total length.

chalcides bedriagai – eslizón Ibérico – bedriagas skink
chalcides bedriagai – eslizón Ibérico – bedriagas skink

Most active during the day and twilight. They hide under rocks, decaying wood in undergrowth and underground as they can excavate loose soil easily. They live in scrubland, woodland clearings and stony areas.

The Bedriaga’s skink feeds mainly on small invertebrates, isopods and arachnids.

The mating period occurs between the months of March and June. They are ovoviviparous (able to incubate the eggs inside the female). They only give birth once a year. About 78 days after fertilization, during July or August, the females have 1 – 6 live young.

  • Conservation Status: T Threatened
  • Distribution: An Endemic Species. Distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula, except the extreme north. Prefers a Mediterranean climate.

Similar species: Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus)


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

Painting one turbine blade black reduces bird fatalities by 72%, says study

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most efficient!

Fascinating to hear that scientists in Norway have found that painting one of the three blades on a wind turbine black reduces avian deaths by 72%.

In the paper, the scientists explain why birds are susceptible to flying into rotating turbine blades and why a single black blade helps them to perceive the rotor as an obstacle.

“Relative to humans, birds have a narrow binocular [eg, using both eyes to focus on one object] frontal field of view and likely use their monocular [using each eye independently] and high‐resolution lateral fields of view [ie, having eyes on opposite sides of their heads] for detecting predators, conspecifics [ie, birds of the same species], and prey,” the authors write.

“Within an assumed open airspace, birds may therefore not always perceive obstructions ahead, thereby enhancing the risk of collision. To reduce collision susceptibility, provision of ‘passive’ visual cues may enhance the visibility of the rotor blades, enabling birds to take evasive action in due time.”

It is thought that birds see the rotating white blades as a “motion smear” — the blur effect humans see when waving a hand quickly in front of their eyes — and do not perceive this blur as a moving object.

Painting one blade black is believed to create motion smear patterns that the bird perceives as a moving object, “as the frontal vision in birds may be more tuned for the direction of movement”.

Read the full article at Recharge….


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Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard

  • Spanish: Culebrilla ciega del Suroeste Ibérico
  • Scientific: Blanus mariae – (Formerly Blanus cinereus)
  • English: Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard
  • French: Amphisbène de Maria
  • German: Südwestiberische Netzwühle
  • Italian: Blano cenerino
  • Portuguese: Cobra-cega

Description

The Iberian worm lizard is a reptile that has adapted to life underground and looks very like an earth worm. Variable background colour from pinkish grey, reddish brown to brown. The cylindrical body is covered with quadrangular scales forming rings. The head is small and looks little different to the body, the snout is rounded. Their vision is vestigial, the eyes being two tiny black dots beneath the skin, while its sense of smell and hearing are highly developed.

Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard
Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard a sub species

They can reach a length of 250mm (10 inches) and rarely more. When they feel threatened they move rapidly and coil around whatever obstacle they can, be it a natural stick or something artificial. If caught they will give small, but strong bites. It is not venomous.

From early research it seems the examples from the Sierra de Grazalema area belong to the new species Blanus mariae. (Formerly Blanus cinereus)

Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard
Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard – Head and scales

Specialists in digging tunnels and in locating prey underground. They live under rocks and decaying fallen trees in small galleries preferring light, moist soil which allow easy excavation. They maintain an optimal body temperature by moving within the substrate.

Their diet is based on termites, ants and their larvae, also taking spiders, worms and millipedes.

Mating occurs between March and June. Laying between 1-3 eggs which are place under ground.

IUCN Conservation Status: LC Least Concern
Distribution: South western Iberian Peninsular (The examples from the Sierra de Grazalema area belong to the new species Blanus mariae. (Formerly Blanus cinereus)


Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

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Southwest Iberian Worm LizardSouthwest Iberian Worm Lizard
Southwest Iberian Worm Lizard in a hand