The wild mountain goats frequently found in herds across the Andalucian mountain ranges are Spanish Ibex. There were until fairly recently, more subspecies spaced around the Iberian peninsular, but now only two exist.These mammals which originate exclusively in the mountains of Iberia are known as Cabra montés in Spanish. They are generally shades of brown around the body with black markings on the chest, flanks and legs in the males, whereas the females are paler. The adult males can reach a weight of 80-100 kg and are approximately double the size of the females. Continue reading Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica hispanica) Cabra montés
The Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo) is a species of tree which survived the last glaciation. An elegant tree growing to a height of about 25m with a conical shape. Its growth is dense and a rich green, although there are occasional specimens of a blue colouration. The branches generally form rings around the trunk. The roots which are thick and long are sometimes very superficial. The trunk is straight and cylindrical but in some old individuals the shape can be irregular, twisted and contorted with more than one leader. (This is due to beetle damage). The leaves are needle-shaped, rigid and somewhat sharp, these needles living up to 15 years, the maximum age among all gymnosperms. They need high humidity and shady slopes or soils that retain a certain amount of water. These trees have both sexes in the same individual, but to avoid inbreeding the female cones are on the top of the tree and the male in the middle. Continue reading The Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo) in the Sierra Grazalema
The temperature begins to cool and, if we have had rain, then the ground will soften, giving way from dried straw colours to a soft green as plants sprout anew after their summer dormancy. Some of the flowers we can see now are Round-leaved fluellin, Common ivy, Fennel, Rosemary, White asparagus, Apple mint and Maritime squill. A range of fruits and berries begin to ripen, which can add a surprising splash of colour; Sloe, Blackberry, Hawthorn, Laurustinus, Peony, Turpentine Tree and Strawberry tree. Continue reading September – EARLY AUTUMN SUNSHINE – Southerly bird migration, a good time to watch Bee-eaters, Short-toed eagles and Booted eagles.
Fields turn golden as the heat steps up a notch, or two! We will be looking out for the wildlife when it is most active – before the midday heat. Earlier morning starts and choosing walks with mature trees for shade, ensures that we get the most of our day, followed by a relaxed afternoon. Narrow leaves are an asset, so thistle type plants do very well such as; the Spanish white Artichoke, Branched carline thistle, Eryngium, Stemless thistle, and those covered with a resinous secretion – Sticky inula, or which inhabit damp sites – Pennyroyal. Continue reading August – HEAT OF THE SUMMER – Vultures, dragonflies, butterflies and other insects, reptiles and terrapins.
Cork is the outer layer of bark which forms on a particular species of oak tree. The cork oak forests around us are harvested during the hottest two months of summer. Walk through the forest; learn how the cork is removed, its importance to the community, to the environment and, how you can help sustain it. Continue reading July – HEAT OF THE SUMMER – Cork harvest, dragonflies, reptiles, terrapins, birds, butterflies and other insects
The month of May in Grazalema is a riot of colour and song. Some birds will be into their third brood already. The juvenile offspring and busy parents feeding the babies are a constant source of interest and sometimes amusement for a birdwatcher. The European Bee-eaters frantically hunt insects from tree branches and telephone cables and this is when you can watch their wonderful skill of catching a bee, a wasp or a dragonfly with one swift snap of their curved beak. The males will perch close to the females and offer the tastiest bits of their catch to strengthen the family bond. In May one of the most elusive Warblers of our area arrives to Grazalema rivers, the rarely seen Western Olivacious Warbler. It is a small insect specialist, and its habitat consists of all the gnarled roots and branches just above the water, where the slim bird weaves itself in and out with great agility. Another lovely Warbler species can be seen and heard in May, the Orphean Warbler, a quite large representative of its family with a distinctive call, which some compare to a gentler but still loud … donkey sound. Continue reading May – EARLY SUMMER – Profuse selection of wildflowers, many orchids, abundant breeding birds and butterflies. Spanish Ibex with young.