Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Meet on the Ledge

A rocky path leads from the Gibraltar bird observatory across the sheer eastern face of the Rock. The path is called the Mediterranean Steps, and is known to be a botanical treasure. This side of the Rock benefits from sea frets and therefore has a lush vegetation rarely seen in the Mediterranean region.
It helps to have a good head for heights and a stout pair of shoes, however. There were plenty of Dwarf Fan Palms which elsewhere in Spain have generally been cut down when small for their fleshy edibly stems.
We saw few species that we recognised from home, but plenty that seemed familiar. This looked like our Butchers' Broom with red berries on the 'leaves' or cladodes, and I think it's Spanish Butchers' Broom.
Nearby a Moorish gecko basked in the sun, motionless, as did a scary 'hopper which was the size of a man's finger.
I liked the various catchflies that we saw, tucked in the limestone crevices.

Back in the mountains, we followed the suggestions of John Butler's excellent Birdwatching on Spain's Southern Coast - a dam over a dry river seemed a waste of time and money, but provided a good habitat for the usual rock birds -Crag Martins and Blue Rock-Thrushes, Choughs and overflying raptors.
Blue Rock-Thrush

Short-toed Eagle

Nearby a lovely bit of habitat had almond trees covered in red-berried mistletoe - a strange sight indeed - and dotted around on the ground were some lovely toadflaxes.
The beautiful town of Ronda is built over an awe-inspiring gorge, with a stunning bridge spanning the gap.
This also played host to the usual suspects, with a sighting of just one Alpine Swift to remind me of the Folkestone visitor a couple of years ago. Choughs chuffed around below us.

Meadow Saxifrage - it grows in west Kent but I've not seen it there.

Nailwort (Paronychia sp. apparently)


Steve Gale said...

Steve, you old folkie... (the Fairport Convention reference wasn't lost on me, old chum)

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks Steve, see you at Cropredy!
We saw the band last month, and will see them "acoustic" in May too.
It's bizarre chatting to your idols of 35 years ago!