Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Dramatic scenery, dazzling wildlife, great hiking trails, amazing facilities and just one those places you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. In fact, once you’ve been to this stunning area, you are likely as not to return! Sound like a travelogue? Well, the area is precious and one of the ways to preserve it is to introduce elements to sustain it. One element, and not the least important, is nature tourism. Andalucia, and particularly rural Andalucia, is largely unspoilt but economically challenged! Tourism can bring incomes into the rural communities and not only help sustain local communities, but also encourage them to conserve and preserve their natural surroundings. Two birds with one stone so to speak.
The area known as the Serranía de Ronda is a natural gem and surrounded by natural parks, two of which are UNESCO Biosphere Parks, Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra de Grazalema. The diversity in habitats and hence wildlife is immense, in just ten minutes you can be driving through Mediterranean Forest and suddenly be in dramatic limestone mountains, contrasts easily reached and enjoyed by the many tracks and roads that make the whole area accessible. The area is a network of quiet country roads each leading to a famous ‘White Village’ which the area has become so well known for. It is an explorer’s delight; hidden valleys combine with a cultural heritage that beckons the adventurous tourist. Then of course there are the many local vineyards that seem to tug at the steering wheel as you drive by, my advice is not to resist, go and taste those fine wines and enjoy!
On the basis that a picture can paint a thousand words, and thus save my labours on this keyboard, I have compiled a pictorial of scenes from here during January 2015 until now (March 11th). I hope it gives food for thought and might help you decide to contribute to the conservation and preservation of the Serranía de Ronda by visiting this wonderful part of Andalucia, Spain. At the very least I hope you enjoy the photos.
Why not join Peter on one his Day Tours? See Links below.
Serranía de Ronda – My Mountains – for further information read HERE
Osuna – Steppe Country – for further information read HERE
Campillos - Mountains to Lagoons - for further information read HERE
Strait of Gibraltar - Migration, wetlands and so much more read HERE
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Pleasant climate, super food and wonderfully friendly people make visiting Costa Rica a real pleasure. However, as a tour leader working for Worldwide Birding Tours, high on the list of priorities for making tours a success is diversity of habitats, stunning scenery and of course a wide variety of wildlife, not to mention the birds! A good variety of birdlife is what keeps fellow travellers involved each day and certainly Costa Rica never fails to deliver. During my latest visit we managed to see over 430 bird species in our 2 weeks, so another successful visit and yet again a very happy group made the whole trip an extremely memorable one.
|3 Toed Sloth (male)|
Because of the length of this tour, 2 weeks, and because there is so much to tell you, I have broken this blog, or more correctly Trip Report, into 4 parts! The final part will be a bird species list with the centre pieces, parts 2 and 3, giving a day by day account of our fabulous journey. To start with I have decided to list our mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. I hope you will forgive the drawn out nature of these information packed accounts of my tour.
|Green Iguana (male)|
Note. The extraordinary number of bird species recorded in Costa Rica is a result of the tremendous diversity of habitats in the country. Not only does Costa Rica have coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea (Atlantic Ocean), but forest types ranging from dry deciduous forests in the lowlands to lush evergreen cloudforests in the highlands. It also has rivers, marshes, swamps and subalpine paramo.
Worldwide Birding Tour – Costa Rica Comprehensive Tour – February 2015
Tour Leader: Peter Jones (Worldwide Birding Tours & Author)
Steven Easley (Birding Guide)
|Black River Turtle|
Preface: This comprehensive tour of Costa Rica by Worldwide Birding Tours undertook a 2 week journey across a wide range of habitats in this wonderful country, from the highland area of Savegre and the Cerro de la Muerte with its subalpine paramo habitat, to the Tropical Research Institute in La Selva and across to Arenal, where scenery is as much a reward as the birds found under the shadow of the Arenal Volcano. We then ventured northwards to Cano Negro for wetland species and 2 boat rides into the centre of this wetland complex before visiting the high elevations of Monteverde. Finally our tour took us to the lowland Pacific area around the Carara National Park, taking yet another boat ride into the mangroves and the open waters of the Rio Tarcoles.
During the course of our tour we were fortunate to see many other species of
’s fauna, other than birds. We manage 18 mammal species, 21 reptile and amphibian species, 24 dragonfly and damselfly species with 35 butterfly species adding to the colourful encounters we had with our visits to various habitats. Our lists are below. Costa Rica
|2 Toed Sloth|
|Northern Tamandua or Lesser anteater|
Common ‘Tropical’ Opossum
Brown-throated (Three-toed) Sloth
Hoffman’s (Two-toed) Sloth
Long-nosed ‘Proboscis’ Bat
Greater White-lined Bat
Greater Fishing Bat
Central American Spider Monkey
Central American Aguoti
Red Brocket Deer
Reptiles and Amphibians
Green Spiny Lizard
Green Spiny Lizard
Tropical House Gekko
Central American Whiptail
Tropical Night Lizard
Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Striped Palm Pit-Viper
Dragon and Damselflies
|Tawny Pennant (female)|
Mexican Silver Spot
5 Spotted Heliconian
Common Blue Morpho
Red Tail Pierella
5 Lined Stripestreak
Wedge Spotted Cattle-Heart
Black and Yellow Prestonian
Well that about sums up the 1st instalment and hope you might follow the blog and read about our remaining adventures on this spectacular tour. Why not consider joining me and Steven next year (2016) on another of our Costa Rican adventure tours? Details of the tour and itinerary can be found on this link
To see other destinations we visit, please visit our main website. Thank you.
|CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR MAIN WEBSITE|
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Winter is always a hard time for wildlife, even in the more temperate climes of the Serranía de Ronda. January has been a real mixed bag in terms of the weather, rain (although insufficient for now), snow, high winds and blue sunny days, although our nighttimes have been plagued by more than our fair share of frosts even at night temperatures above freezing! Whatever the weather, whatever the time of year, getting up and into my mountains is just so rewarding and my local scenery always amazing.
|Tim Appleton birding the Serrania de Ronda|
My month has been hectic, sorting out tours, finishing outstanding trip reports, preparing for another journey to Costa Rica, getting fellow travellers up to speed and informed on all the details of the tour they need in order to prepare. Yet, the call of my mountains beckoned on several occasions and not least taking a very old friend with me to share and indulge in the amazing wildlife of the Serranía de Ronda. It was great to see Tim Appleton and spend time together searching for and finding a large list of target birds, although we did dip on Alpine Accentor!
|Dartford Warbler putting on a fine show whilst impressing his mate|
High points for January were finding one of my resident pairs of Bonelli’s Eagle back on territory (they were displaced by Griffon Vulture last year) and displaying, nest building and generally giving me some real thrills and memorable moments. Another was setting out with Brenda, my wife, to find early signs of Giant Orchid; we were successful and enjoyed many other flowering plants on the day. Finding very showy Dartford Warbler and Rock Bunting also made my journeys rewarding, funny how Rock Bunting are so obvious right now, they become a fairly difficult bird later in the year.
|Stunning views from our 'new' photography hide near Ronda|
It was also great to see our ‘new’ photography hide welcome it’s first client. The hide has been a long time in the making, complete with interior toilet and wash basin. Set in an ancient oak forest and standing within a clearing it provides amazing scenery from the hide windows and of course has a water feature for all the resident and visiting birds. I can’t wait until the Spring and see some of the summer visitors coming to feed and drink in front of this luxury facility, Sub-alpine, Bonelli’s and Orphean Warbler are just some we expect on a regular basis, with Nightingale and Iberian Chiffchaff a couple of others I particularly want to photograph. The woodland holds a few pairs of Booted Eagle and a nesting site close-by for Short-toed Eagle, so expectations are running high!
|Bonelli's Eagle male fly by, not a brilliant photo, but a brilliant bird!|
Hopefully my upcoming tour to Costa Rica will be as productive as my last visit, I have led 10 tours there previously, but even as an exotic destination as this will not dampen my yearning to return to my mountains and experience its wonderful wildlife.
|Rock Bunting has been another showy bird during January.|
Some snaps from January and hope you will enjoy them.
|Broad-leafed Iris an abundant winter bloom|
|White Wagtail are a very common winter visitor, but scarce in summer.|
|Paperwhite Narcissus is a very common winter bloom|
|Our scenery here can be so beautiful|
|Little Egret adds a touch of elegance to the shores of our lakes|
|Chiffchaff provides winter entertainment in abundance!|
|Red Deer and also Ibex can be more obvious in winter|
|Libar track can be such a rewarding route in winter|
|Griffon Vulture flies over the 'new' photography hide near Ronda|
To see other destinations I visit, please see our main website. Thank you
|CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR MAIN WEBSITE|