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Grazalema Mountains

Beautiful days in the end of winter

By José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

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Cold sunrises followed by hot mornings ensure the full catalog of lights and colors throughout one of our tours now in late winter. The mists of some days give us phantasmagorical landscapes and bring us distant sounds. Others days however, we can see the silhouette of the distant mountains of the Grazalema Mountains, mounted on the marshes of El Rocío next to its sanctuary.

Sunrise in the forest with a fence

Small birds in the forests, hidden among the mastic trees or perched on top of the pines, present their best melodies and expose them to the examination of their females. Few will not be rewarded for their efforts by creating a new family over the course of the next few weeks. No partridges are seen single, all walk their happiness as pairs, they will go together every day for the next few months and will strengthen ties to ensure a large and happy offspring.

Group of red dee in the pine forest

The first orchids come out in the meadows between the pines, the high temperatures of the last days have accelerated the arrival of spring. The yellow, white and pink flowers begin to abound in the, so far, green forest clearings . The wild pear trees and rockrose also begin to offer their flowers to the already abundant insects. First cuckoo has been heard and first woodcut shrikes seen.

Orchid among the grasses

Black kites have become abundant within the last few days and already build their nests in the Matasgordas Cork Oak Forest or become neighbors of a pair of storks in a tall ash tree at the edge of the marshes. A little further on, when entering it, the forest moves away and the trees get scarce, and it is here where black winged kites do their own on top of a small olive tree. At dusk they will go hunting over the low scrub that covers its hunting area. The will share it with several short-eared owls that still remain in Doñana, offering us one of the most beautiful natural spectacles of these days in the Park. Black winged kites hover when something catches their attention and they direct their bright red eyes towards anything that moves down there. Owls do the same with their big yellow eyes as they fly almost flush with the vegetation. Their large white face remains almost motionless as they move silently.

Crane in the marshes

Calandra larks, lesser short-toed larks and crested larks fill the marsh with their precious songs while the last cranes still walk their elegance between the salty bushes, although it will not be long before they leave for their breeding grounds in the far north. At Caño Guadiamar, the first purple herons shyly hide among the aquatic vegetation, and fly away as we pass by. The more timid bitterns use their enhanced camouflage plumage to go almost completely unoticed.

Glossy ibis reflected on the water

Great crested grebes and coots are already sitting on their nests, hiding among the aquatic plants. Hundreds of purple swamphens build them even deeper among the vegetation. Glossy ibis, little egrets and great egrets explore the area to find a good location to start building their nests on the tamarisk. We continue to wait for the expected spring rains to improve the conditions for all those who plan to do it here and throughout the marsh in Doñana.

About José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

José Antonio Sánchez se licenció en Biología por la Universidad de Sevilla en 1985. Más tarde, durante varios años, se dedicó a organizar y guiar rutas de senderismo y naturaleza ...

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