On a clear, crisp day the rewards are high in the mountains. Walking along a narrow path surrounded by mature trees, you will be steadily gaining in height, take a moment to look back over the valleys and white villages, now scattered beneath. The vistas will have you stopping at every turn to breathe them in. Above is an array of rugged peaks and grazing on the slopes, camouflaged amongst the rocks and shrubs, are Spanish Ibex. The males are standing proud as the test begins to see which one will become head of the herd. Continue reading November – EARLY WINTER – Landscapes, Spanish Ibex, wintering and resident birds.
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.
April in Grazalema brings many joys to a birdwatcher; the nightingale singing orgy around our rivers is in full swing and the relatively unremarkable-looking birds make up for their lack of striking plumage by shaking the bushes with loud and complicated songs. Young males try to compete with more seasoned singers and even to an untrained ear the difference between simple and complex song is clearly audible. Along the same rivers you will hear the abrupt and loud tones of Cetti´s Warbler, always heard rather than seen. Golden Orioles follow the chorus with their unmistakable fluty tones as they mercilessly chase away even much bigger birds from their breeding territory, usually in the tall poplars along the river banks. As the weather gets warmer, the joyful chirping clouds of European Bee-eaters start appearing high in the sky on their way back from Africa to European breeding grounds. They can even be heard passing through on clear starry nights. Local colonies of Bee-eaters tend to come back towards the end of April and immediately get busy repairing the nesting holes in river banks. Continue reading April – SPRINGTIME – April delivers a rich selection of orchids, flowers and insects.