Summer time is when many insects reach the adult phase of their life. They may have spent months, even years as a larva, drab in colour and unable to move far, possibly living underwater or underground. Now, in this last stage of their lifecycle, they might be brightly coloured, able to fly or to emit sounds and so they become more obvious to us. Insects are a very important part of the food chain on which we depend.
We also rely heavily on insects for their ability to pollinate much of our food crops, and so they deserve at least a moment of our time. Here is a tiny selection of those that might gain your attention within the natural park area.
During late May and into June temperatures start to rise as springtime turns quickly to summer. Road side verges are full of flowering plants in all colours and cereal fields turn bright red with poppies and yellow with false fennel. As the weeks progress, spring blooms will be turning to seed and the golden browns of summer will begin to dominate the lower landscapes. However the later flowering of the higher altitude mountainous plants means that there is still plenty to discover in what is known as the ‘hedgehog zone’ describing plants with a dwarf and prickly form.
The common consensus in the European birdwatching communities is that May is the best time for looking at birds. While this could be true, June and July should not be discarded that quickly. There are two great advantages to that time of the year as far as birds are concerned. There are more birds as the adults of songbirds, for example, are said to be outnumbered by five to one by their offspring. Another advantage is that birds gather around water sources in the hottest part of the day for a bath and a drink.
Spring is in full swing during the month of May and the plants in flower are so numerous that it is difficult to choose which ones to mention here. You will see that the waysides and meadows hold a tremendous variety, pause to count how many species you can find in just one square metre! Note that there is a subtle difference between the flowering times in the sheltered valleys to that of the exposed higher pastures. Look below the featured plants here, to see a condensed list to whet your appetite! (Grouped by colour).
Traditional cheeses from the Sierra de Grazalema are made from goat’s or sheep’s milk. ‘Cabra Payoya’ goats and ‘Oveja Merina Grazalemeña’ sheep are both registered and protected breeds of the Sierra de Grazalema and adjoining Serranía de Ronda. These breeds have been developed to flourish in a mountain terrain where summer droughts are the norm and winter rainfall can be in heavy bursts.These flocks play a key role in the maintenance of local traditions and cultures, contributing to sustainable rural development in the region. Managed well, they aid in the conservation and maintenance of the mountain area.
Colour is spreading into every corner as now, according to the calendars, spring is official. Our surroundings become a painter’s paradise as lush plants vie for attention, their soft edges contrasting with the sharp mountain landscape. Botanising amongst the orchids is sheer pleasure as more species are appearing in bloom and photographers beware – extra memory cards and batteries are advised!
Also called Dolmen del Chopo -after the name of the farm where it is situated
Dolmens are built stone burial chambers or tombs. They are created by standing huge stones on their edges to create the basic form and then these are capped with massive slabs. Soil would have been used to totally cover the entire area, but this has washed away over the centuries. A simple shape may be box like but the one we look at here is a longer structure, forming a corridor for multiple burials.
MARCH. As shrubs begin to show colour, spring is becoming more obvious and this alters from when we enter the month with a few shy blooms, to crossing into April with the “now in flower” list ever increasing. Over the first two weeks of March, the plants in flower are scattered and you need to know where to look, during the third and fourth weeks the selection grows with colour cropping up on roadsides, pastures, rocky slopes and river valleys.
Our nature walking holidays run from Saturday to Saturday. You arrive on a Saturday at Malaga airport with transport pickup at 4pm to Grazalema and leave at 8am for Malaga airport on the following Saturday. We run small groups with normally 8 guests at a time although sometimes we invite other people visiting or passing through the park area with our "join a group" service. Meeting like minded people and making new friendships through our shared love of the surrounding nature is an important part of Wildside Holidays - Grazalema.
The Parque Natural de Grazalema is famous for its natural mountain springs, streams, river sources and fountains. Water sources have always been extremely valuable to the locals. Shepherds and hunters knew where the wells and natural springs were, especially the precious ones that never dried up even through the heat of a long summer. These men and women were able to set off into the Sierras with a small leather pouch which they refilled as they walked instead of having the burden of several litres in a rucksack which would slow their pace.