Today dawned bright and sunny so I suggested to Chris that we go for a drive and a walk out in the countryside, before all the wild flowers disappear in the hot sun. So mid-morning we drove up to Cortijo Grande. We parked near the golf course and spent a while just enjoying the view of shadowed valleys and distant mountains. I have made a small panoramic picture of part of the view. It is not very good, but the best I could do with the photos I took.
The trees were lovely. We are not very high there but the trees are quite different from the ones around the village. They are almost like English ones, with tall trunks and delicate branches and leaves that filter the sun through, and make roosts for the many birds that are around. We could hear several distinct calls but I am not sufficiently expert to identify them. One bonus was when a bright, canary-yellow bird swooped across the valley in front of me. It was too fast for me to catch on camera, but I saw it clearly and it was much brighter and more yellow than any bird I have seen here so far. I have looked on the internet and the only bird that fitted the description, indigeonous to this region, is the Iberian yellow wagtail, so I think that must be what it was. I did manage to get pictures of a couple of other birds. This glossy blue-black back belongs to one of the many swallows that were dipping and diving around us, and the two birds are spotless starlings, similar to the starlings seen in UK, but slightly larger and without the speckled feathers. They were very vocal, and we sat and watched groups of them digging holes all over the golfing greens, and enjoying whatever it was they were finding to eat there.
As we walked around the golf course we saw quite a lot of flowers still blooming, including this deep blue one, which shone out through the tall grass, calling us to go and admire it! There were also plants that were once cultivated but had returned to the wild like this beautiful morning glory scrambling over a rotting fence post. Between the driving ranges there were small areas of orange trees which were semi-wild and they were covered in fruit still. I tried one, half expecting it to be bitter, but it was quite sweet, though without much flavour. Some of the trees had died and I was amused to see they had been colonised by the usual white snails that abound everywhere. We saw lots of loquat (Chinese plum) trees with ripening fruit on. I bought some last year to try but was not very impressed. We went to our favourite bar up there for a drink after our walk, and sat in the garden, amongst this beautiful array of vivid geraniums. They survive outside all winter here, so over the years they get quite big, almost like small bushes, and they flower abundantly for months.
On our way back home I took Chris to see some truly beautiful birds. Followers of this blog since it began, may remember that I have often spoken of wanting to see the bee-eaters that visit this region to breed around April through 'til June. A friend of mine took some quite stunning photos of them last week, and though I can't compete with that, I did ask them where they were taken and they kindly whispered the location of their breeding ground to me. I went to see them and sat in the car for ages watching them swoop to and fro between the over head cables, and occasionally coming down to the trees along the road. I wanted to take Chris there to see them because now they need to be left in peace to rear their families. They nest in sandy banks and you can see here all the holes where they burrow into the mud at the side of the road. I would love to have a telephoto lens and sit taking pictures of them, but I tried with my little point-and-shoot camera. It doesn't have a very powerful zoom, and when it is in use, it picks up every wobble of my hands, so there was never much chance of me getting a good picture! But when I got home I enlarged the pictures I had taken and this is the best one which I am putting on here so that you can see the the lovely colours on these birds. To see such exotic creatures in their natural habitat is a real privilege, and I am so glad I have at last had an opportunity to do so.
I took quite a few photos this morning so I will put a folder of them on my gallery which you can see by clicking here.