Saturday, October 13, 2012

Looking ahead to next spring!

Springtime in the Serranía de Ronda
(Something to look forward to)...

I have recently been asked to write a short piece on the spring attractions to be found in the Serranía de Ronda, the travel advisers wanted something to put into their pages on this wonderful area. Ironic so soon after writing about the autumn and onset of winter here.
All times of the year hold fantastic opportunities to view wildlife in this unspoiled mountain range, but I guess for sheer abundance of fauna and flora, then mid springtime is as good it gets here. Many visitors find the vibrant colours, scenery and wide vistas simply breathtaking and not at all as they imagined Spain, a far cry from beaches and crowded resorts. So it is not the hardest of tasks to write about my mountains!

During the final days of April, many migrant breeding birds have already arrived and are proclaiming their territories in the Serranía. Probably, at this time of the year, it is easier to find normally elusive birds due to the male’s higher profile during display and territorial behaviour. Others, such as the larger resident raptors i.e. Bonelli’s and Golden Eagles, are secretive now as they feed and protect their young. Egyptian Vulture, an endangered species, breeds here in the Serranía and is one of only two pairs currently breeding within the Malaga province! Together with Griffon Vulture, you should see these spectacular raptors during the course of a couple of day’s excursion. During a tour, you will be able to see handsome male Black-eared Wheatears, as well as a Spanish speciality the Black Wheatear, the later apart from a few pairs on the French side of the Pyrenees, breeds no where else in Europe! Casting your eyes skywards, you should be able to see both Booted and Short-toed Eagles soaring over the wooded areas of the Serranía, only recently arrived from their African wintering quarters, they are more readily seen at this time of year as they re-establish breeding territories.

Springtime in the Serranía can be a wonderful time to visit. Not only is the area rich in birds, but also wildlife in general. Spring flowers for example, can provide carpets of rich colour and the number of species found can be challenging. Orchid species abound and the mixture of limestone and sandstone leads to such diverse soil types, that the variety of flowers is probably richer here than many parts of the Iberian peninsular. Indeed, if you include the Sierra de Grazalema within your visit to the area, then the mountain range here is probably among the most important in Spain, if not Europe. Iris is also a family well represented and although the species Wide-leafed iris may have gone over, the Barbary nut Gynandris sisyrinchium is almost certain to be found on your tour. The Barbary nut is an interesting plant, flowering only after mid-day; it was a traditional source of blue ink in day’s of old!

Hopefully, a tour of the Serranía will allow you to leave the area with a much greater understanding and appreciation of its beauty and importance. To see as much as possible, you should explore the area with a local guide, with as many stops and walks as time will permit.

To find out more about the wildlife of the area, it is recommend visiting the website where checklists can be found for Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Butterflies and Flora.

A book Birds of the Serranía de Ronda (including Sierra de Grazalema) is available from the author at for the price of €10 plus postage, the same email address can be used for inquiries regarding and prearranging tours in the area.

Did you know?

The area has more than 1800 species of plants recorded?

This land-locked area has more than 230 species of birds recorded?

Redstart and Northern Wheatear have their most southerly European breeding populations here?

Bonelli’s Eagle has its highest breeding density in the world in the Serranía?

The Serranía is the only place in Europe where the Pinsapo tree grows as an endemic species?

Grazalema has the highest annual rainfall in all of Spain?

Griffon Vultures have a wing-span of 9ft and can weigh 17.6lbs!!

Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema covers over 50,000 hectares?

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