Almeria - spring wildlife and walking in southern Spain
A relaxed week of spring flowers, interesting landscapes and country walks, exploring the Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata-Nijar in eastern Andalucia.
The Natural Park juts out into the Mediterranean, to the east of the city of Almeria. This is one of the most arid regions in Europe, with the semi-deserts of Tabernas close-by, and the wildlife has much in common with North Africa: Dwarf Fan Palm, the spiny Ziziphus lotus, the scrambling milkweed Periploca angustifolia and the lavenders Lavandula multifida and Lavandula dentata are amongst the common plants here that are more familiar from Morocco than elsewhere in Europe, while the desert-loving Trumpeter Finch has its only European outpost here.
The volcanic Sierra de Cabo de Gata and the 40km of rocky coast, including cliffs up to 100m high, make for an impressive landscape, with a number of endemic wild flowers found only here, including the Cabo de Gata Pink, Cabo de Gata Snapdragon and Cabo de Gata Germander. Black Wheatear is a common site in rocky areas, with a couple of pairs of Bonelli’s Eagle present in the mountains.
Away from the cliffs, the coastal plain includes sand dunes, a system of salinas where flamingos feed alongside the industrial salt production, and ‘ramblas’, seasonally dry riverbeds, with small lagoons home to White-headed Duck and plenty of other interesting birds.
We will take daily excursions to explore the various habitats and hidden corners of the area, from the arid ‘steppe’ to the gyspum karst around Sorbas. Colourful spring flowers include Purple Jerusalem-Sage, Mallow-leaved Bindweed and Sea Mallow, with spring butterflies on the wing and newly arrived migrant birds all adding to the interesting wildlife to be found during our days.