Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wildlife of the Serranía de Ronda

The glorious Spanish Festoon 
The Serranía de Ronda and the Sierra de Grazalema are arguably among the most important areas for wildlife in Spain. The diversity of habitats makes the area a natural wonder for all who are fortunate enough to gaze upon its obvious beauty and splendour. The diversity of habitats is reflected by an equal and staggering diversity in the area's wildlife. Parque Naturals Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra de Grazalema are two major national parks, both declared UNESCO Biosphere reserves, and are contained within our boundaries. The reserves are of international importance.

European Bee-eater
Mammals are well represented and the picture further down the page shows a young male Ibex Capra hircus pyrenaica which occur commonly throughout the area. Fallow Deer Dama dama, Red Deer Cervus elaphus and Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus are all native residents with the wild sheep Mouflon Ovis aries having been introduced into the Sierra de las Nieves park area. With river systems that flow all year round, the scarce but magnificent Otter Lutra lutra can still be encountered, especially on the Rio Guadiaro and its tributaries. Genet Genetta genetta, Beech or Stone Martin Martes foina and Mongoose Herpestes ichneumon also add to the impressive array of mammals here.

Woodchat Shrike
Of course the local variety and the list of rare birds using the area are now world renowned. Whatever the time of year, then the area is a 'must' visit location for all who appreciate birds. One of the most notable claims to fame is the highest 'known' breeding density in the world for Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus and with over 400 breeding pairs of Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus, the area has much to reward the visitor. Raptors are further represented by breeding Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus and wintering Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti.

Sawfly Orchid
The picture further down this page shows an Ocellated Lizard Timon lepidus which can grow to enormous proportions and is a veracious predator of ground nesting bird's eggs and young in addition to other small lizards! The variety of reptiles will surprise many and thrill all!

Large Tortoiseshell
With over 2,000 species of plant in the area and several endemics, the area is without doubt hugely important to the Iberian Peninsula and Europe. There are now over 43 species of orchid listed, 164 vetch species, 24 campion and 27 species of thistle, just to name a few and wet the appetite for visiting botanists. A very comprehensive listing of the plants can be found by following the flower link below and is highly recommended for those planning to visit this remarkable area. From late October through to early June can be very rewarding for the enthusiast, with the spring show being the most spectacular during May. Of course the months of April and May also correspond to spring migration for birds, so these months can be an ideal time to plan a visit if you have the dual interests in both flowers and birds.

Ibex (male)
Currently our Butterfly species list has just exceeded 80! Obviously with so many plant species in our area, then the number of butterfly can be expected to be correspondingly high. The picture at the header of this blog illustrates one of our more common species the Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina and it has the rather charming local name of Arlequin.

Ocellated Lizard Timon lepidus
A small photo gallery of wildlife in the Serranía, I hope you like it?

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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