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May – EARLY SUMMER – Profuse selection of wildflowers, many orchids, abundant breeding birds and butterflies. Spanish Ibex with young.

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.

Wild flowers adorn every corner in glorious colours, there are far too many to mention and only being amongst them will you sense the variety. As for the impressive; then the Giant fennel lives up to its name with a 2-3 metre stalk! Crambe filiformis has to be the opposite end of the scale with its minute wispy white flowers on delicate strands. Unusual Blue aphyllanthes has starry flowers amongst a hedgehog dome of rush-like leaves, while the Giant squill makes a pyramid of individual blooms which attract some lovely green beetles. The exotic looking Spanish nigella is lovely in bud, flower or seed, with each stage attractive on its own. Two plants which are endemic to a small part of Andalusia are Perennial Buckler-mustard with its multitude of pale yellow blooms seen high in rock crevices, while on the ground the White-leaved bugloss has attractive soft pastel shades of pink and blue. Of the same family, Candle bugloss is a taller, finer plant with pink-peach coloured blooms and is endemic to a larger part of Iberia. The yellow-flowered toadflax Linaria platycalyx, only grows around Grazalema and Ronda, therefore it demands a special mention.

Orchids that we may see as we cross through the mountains and valleys are the Yellow bee, Woodcock, Sawfly, Bee, Lizard, Violet Limodor, Tongue, Small tongue, Sword-leaved helleborine, Dense-flowered, Lax, Lang’s, Champagne, Greater Butterfly, Man and Pyramidal.