Wildside Holidays is in The 2021 Good Web Guide Awards

We are really proud to announce that Wildside Holidays is in The 2021 Good Web Guide Awards Please vote for us! 🙂

The Good Web Guide Awards - https://www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk/votefor/wildsideholidays
Click the image to vote for Wildside Holidays in the Good Web Guide Awards

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So with this in mind it would be fantastic if you could spend a moment and vote for us!

Here is the link to vote (or click the above image)
https://www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk/votefor/wildsideholidays

In order to prevent any vote cheating you have to add your email address but will receive no contact or spam from the Good Web Guide Website. Thankyou for your support!

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Looking for Wildlife & Walking Holidays in Spain?

Looking for Wildlife & Walking Holidays in Spain? Wildside Holidays publishes information pages about the Natural and National parks in Spain. Information about wildlife in Spain and where to find it. Just look in the right hand column for the Spanish regions or the top menu for the wildlife pages.

Sustainable rural and wildlife tourism in Spain is a major key to wildlife and habitat protection. There are many studies showing how wildlife tourism can impact local economies, habitats and the wildlife it contains in a very positive way.

In the left column you will find links to some of the top INDEPENDENT activity holiday companies in Spain.

If you are travelling without a walking or wildlife guiding company in Spain then we highly reccommend booking.com for your hotel and accommodation needs.

You can also reserve trains and buses using the booking box of OMIO located in the right hand column of all pages.

A huge thank you to everyone that uses the links on these pages to reserve a hotel or transport in Spain. The small commission we receive helps a lot. Thankyou!

Looking for Wildlife & Walking Holidays in Spain? Wildside Holidays is the answer!

Esparto grass – Stipa tenacissima – esparto

In Spain, ‘esparto‘ is the common name of a grass which until well into the twentieth century had a huge importance in the economy of many towns in Spain. Making products from esparto has deep historical roots, noting that the Romans favoured this plant for its strength and versatility. It is a fine, durable and flexible grass of up to 60cm in height, native to uncultivated, dry and stony areas in central and Southern Spain and also North Africa. Its scientific name is Macrochloa tenacissima (syn. Stipa tenacissima).

Esparto grass - Stipa tenacissima - esparto
Esparto grass – Stipa tenacissima – esparto

The Spanish esparto quality exceeds that of other Mediterranean countries because it contains a higher percentage of cellulose and the fibre is much finer. The plant is referred to generally as espartera or atocha and was first used to make twine and rope for ship’s rigging, in agriculture and basketry. Areas naturally covered in tussocks of this grass are called espartales, atochares or albardinales.

During the many years of mastering skills in crafting this natural product people have added new uses, developed various styles of weaving and plaiting, each given its own name.

Esparto grass - Stipa tenacissima - esparto
Products made from esparto

Older generations of many villages still preserve the tradition of weaving objects from esparto. Historically they used this local product as there were no other choices, and from necessity they had to create shoes from it to work in the fields, holders to carry their water and lunch, baskets to collect the harvest, rugs for their floors and blinds for their windows.

We rely on them now to pass on their memories to another generation so preserving the art of weaving such versatile, and now more ornamental products, teaching others how to use the purpose made tools and to share their vocabulary and wisdom.

  • El capazo a wide circular basket to carry and store logs for the long winter evenings.
  • Los tizneros on which to place the hot cooking pots fresh from the fire.
  • Las soguillas sandals whose soles of esparto are formed by a spiral of twisted cord, then sewn into place and lined with fabric to form a shoe.
  • Garrafas forradas de pleitas de esparto bottles surrounded in woven plaits of esparto, often with handles, to protect the glass, make it easier to carry and act as insulation to the wine or water within.
  • Los serones the panniers used to carry goods on donkeys and mules.
  • La pleita a wide, plaited band of esparto – braided in groups of at least three, the greater thewidth the greater the number of strands of grass needed to make la pleita. This band could later be used to create a basket cesta, or be used as a mould to shape cheese – quesera.
Esparto chees molds
Esparto cheese molds

Initial plant growth of this grass is very slow but after its third year it is more profuse and the best stems form after it is five years old. (The quality and quantity only declining after the plant is fifty years old.) The stems are collected from June to August when the grass has matured after the spring growth period. It can be collected by hand using a bar, around which a handful of stems are wrapped and then pulled free. If harvested at the wrong time this could rip the plant’s root system and damage future growth. Pulling with a bar can damage the tips of the grass, a slower but better method is to grasp only a few strands by hand, pulling them quickly upwards. The pulled grass stems are cleaned and sorted, discarding any broken or short strands, then bundled and tied.

Esparto grass - Stipa tenacissima - esparto
La pleita, a wide, plaited band of esparto – braided in groups of at least three
  • Green Esparto: is dried in the shade to preserve its colour.
  • Golden Esparto: is dried in the sun.
  • Cured Esparto: the bundles are sun dried before being soaked in large water containers for several weeks, then dried again and beaten to soften the fibres.

Esparto grass – Stipa tenacissima – esparto – Spanish esparto grass, the british Paper industry and the businessman William Mac Murry

There was a close relationship between Spanish esparto and the paper industry in the late nineteenth century, but a prominent part was also an English businessman known as William Mac Murray who is attributed a great influence in our country to be a manufacturer of wire utensils in Scotland and his company was very successful in supplying the paper industry of the whole world continuous wire mesh for paper machines. He would also become a paper manufacturer, papermaker and owner of some newspapers. In 1847 he moved to the southeast of England where he had four pulp mills. Much of the paper was made with esparto from southeastern Spain, where McMurray leased large farms for its collection, built factories where to transform it and exported it to Great Britain in its own steamboats; Due to the shortage of rags to make paper in the middle of century XIX was solved in Great Britain with the introduction of esparto as raw material.

Esparto grass in London for paper production
Esparto grass in London for paper production

The first patent to manufacture paper and paperboard with esparto was registered in England in 1839. Several paper manufacturers experimented with specific methods to obtain pulp.

From 1865 a good part of this paper was made with imported esparto from the farms that William McMurray controlled in Spain, that it climbed in barges by the river Thames from the docks of London and was unloaded in a dock Or dock at the mouth of the Wandle River, which was also owned by McMurray and became known as the McMurray Canal.

Read more here….. https://www.artesaniaconesparto.com/gb/blog/papel-de-esparto-y-mr-mcmurray-b39.html

Today, esparto products have been relegated more to items of ornamentation. Sadly the decline in its use has been steady since being replaced by rubber, plastic and synthetic fibres.

However, UBEDÍES ARTESANÍA is a family run business and has been devoted to manufacturing esparto crafts for four generations.

Located in the Renaissance city of Úbeda, Spain, declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Ubedíes Artesanía recovers old time products and handcraft making and their products are completely eco-friendly,

https://www.artesaniaconesparto.com/gb/


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.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Monarch – Danaus plexippus – Monarca

  • Family: Danaidae
  • Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
  • English common name: Monarch
  • Spanish common name: Monarca
  • Portuguese common name: Monarca

The Monarch – Danaus plexippus – Monarca are large and colourful butterflies known as the “Wanderers” in America where their amazing migration has been well documented. Some have successfully crossed from America into Europe but can only breed here in localized areas with a suitably mild climate.

Small breeding colonies can be found in Andalusia, along the Mediterranean coast where the climate does not freeze in winter.

Their larval food plants have been planted in gardens and parks and on occasions have naturalized aiding the spread of this species. (We have observed Asclepias leaving garden centres carrying many tiny caterpillars of this species, therefore assisting in their distribution)

Monarch - Danaus plexippus - Monarca
Monarch – Danaus plexippus – Monarca – underwing

The upperwings have a ground colour of burnt orange with an outline of black spotted with white. The underside has a paler yellow/orange ground colour, again with a black trim but with two lines of pure white dots. Throughout there are very noticeable black veins. The head is black with obviously pure white spots.

The caterpillars of this species can grow up to 5cm long, they are brightly coloured with bands of white, black and yellow. They have two pairs of black tentacles protruding from their backs, the longer pair at the front.

Monarch - Danaus plexippus - Monarca
Monarch – Danaus plexippus – Monarca. Left: Monarch caterpillar on Asclepias Right: Chrysalis recently formed
  • Altitude: Sea level to 400m
  • Wing size: Size: 75-100mm
  • Flight time: All year
  • Caterpillar food plant: Asclepias curassavica, Thevetia, Gomphocarpus fruticosus.
  • Distribution: Breeding in warm coastal areas between Cadiz and Malaga and also the Canary Islands.
Monarch - Danaus plexippus - Monarca

The only butterfly to live and breed in Africa, Europe and the Americas

Similar species: Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) which has similar colouring but lacks the black veining of the monarch.

Butterflies of Iberia
These are included in the list of butterflies in Andalusia.

Images taken in Andalucia, Southern Spain apart from top image By Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14917505


Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Plain Tiger – Danaus chrysippus – Mariposa tigre

  • Family: Danaidae
  • Scientific name: Danaus chrysippus
  • English common names: Plain Tiger, African Monarch
  • Spanish common names: Mariposa tigre, Monarca africana

The Plain Tiger – Danaus chrysippus – Mariposa tigre is a large and easily identified tropical looking butterfly, but it only exists in small isolated pockets in Spain. Perhaps having migrated from Africa or having been brought in as larvae on plant stocks, however there are cases of them completing their biological cycle here.

The Plain Tiger - Danaus chrysippus - Mariposa tigre is a large and easily identified tropical looking butterfly, but it only exists in small isolated pockets in Spain.

They have been recorded from Barcelona to Sevilla, mainly along the coastal areas or more inland near irrigated areas. They will be restricted to where their caterpillar food plants survive.

The upperwings have a ground colour of burnt orange which has a black surround with a broken white band near the tip. The hind under wings are a dull yellow trimmed with a fine black line with white dots. The underside fore wing shares all of these colours. The body of this species is very visible, being black with many pure white spots.

The Plain Tiger - Danaus chrysippus - Mariposa tigre is a large and easily identified tropical looking butterfly, but it only exists in small isolated pockets in Spain.
The Plain Tiger – Danaus chrysippus – Mariposa tigre is a large and easily identified tropical looking butterfly, but it only exists in small isolated pockets in Spain.

The caterpillars of this species are multi striped white, yellow and black. They have 6 very distinctive, upwards pointing, black spines set in 3 pairs.

  • Wing size: 75-90mm
  • Altitude: Limited to warm coastal areas in Spain
  • Flight time: May to October
  • Caterpillar food plant: Asclepias curassavica, Gomphocarpus fruticosus, Calotropis procera, Cynanchum acutum.
  • Distribution: Mediterranean Spain and France, Canary Islands, Italy, Greece, Normally associated with Africa and tropical Asia.

Similar species: Monarch (Danaus plexippus) which has similar colouring but with prominent black veining on both upper and under wings.

Butterflies of Iberia
These are included in the list of butterflies in Andalusia.
Images taken on the Ebro Delta, Spain. (Apart from top image from wikipedia Charles J. Sharp – Trabajo propio, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography.co.uk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65435529)


Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Spanish Festoon – Zerynthia rumina – Arlequín

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Scientific name: Zerynthia rumina
  • English common name: Spanish Festoon
  • Spanish common name: Arlequín
  • Portuguese common name: Borboleta Carnaval

The Spanish Festoon – Zerynthia rumina – Arlequín is a medium sized butterfly that often flies at low levels among grasses. The main colour is yellow with an attractive pattern of black with large red spots over the upper wings. The under wings have an intricate design, including a wavy line of black and red on an off-white background colour.

Spanish Festoon - Zerynthia rumina - Arlequín
Spanish Festoon – Zerynthia rumina – Arlequín – Mating pair.

The caterpillars of this species are up to 3.5cm long. The colour can vary greatly from yellow to brown, covered in spines that are often orange.

  • Wing size: 44-46mm
  • Altitude: Sea level to1500m
  • Flight time: March-May
  • Over-wintering: Chrysalis
  • Caterpillar food plant: Aristolochia species
  • Distribution: Iberia, Southern France, North Africa
Spanish Festoon - Zerynthia rumina - Arlequín
The patterns and colours of this butterfly in Spain makes it very easy to identify.

Similar species: Not in Iberia (Southern France has Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena)

Butterflies of Iberia
These are included in the list of butterflies in Andalusia.
Images taken by Sue Eatock in Grazalema, Southern Spain.


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.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain.