Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Portugal and Spain Part 2

The tiny British territory of Gibraltar is mostly heavily urbanised, but the largely undeveloped top of the "rock" still holds some wildlife.

The main attraction here is the Barbary Macaques. These monkeys were introduced, probably by the Moors over 1000 years ago. They are not really wild anymore (they're fed fresh fruit daily!), but still neat to see.

They take all wildlife seriously in Gibraltar!

Iberian Wall Lizards were common on exposed rockfaces throughout the trip. Other reptiles seen included Moorish Gecko, various other unidentified lizards, and an undidentified turtle.

Probably the highlight of my trip was a hike at Sierra Crestillina in Casares, Spain, where large numbers of Griffon Vultures can be found year-round. Unlike our Turkey Vultures, these birds are massive, with wingspans of up to nine feet. A spectacular bird!

The landscape was equally spectacular.

Finches are a more dominant part of the avifauna than in Ontario. European Goldfinch (below) were the most common, but we saw six other species, as well as two species of introduced African estrilid finches.

Another major highlight came on a hike from the village of Frigiliana, where we came across a number of Spanish Ibex, a species of goat.

They certainly like rugged terrain!

Ibex surveying its domain.

We saw a few other mammals, including European Rabbit, Egyptian Mongoose, Red Squirrel (not the same as our Red Squirrel!), various bats, and a dolphin species (probably Common Dolphin).

We saw a variety of crows, jays and magpies, but most were quite timid. Jackdaws are a small crow relative with an odd grey nape.

The only shrike found over the winter is Southern Grey Shrike, which has an oddly pink-tinged breast. We only saw two of these over the trip.

Another big highlight was seeing two small flocks of Common Cranes totaling about 20. Although we only got distant views of them on the ground, they obligingly flew almost directly overhead!

1 comment:

  1. Great wildlife to see.
    I hope you didn't do too much monkeying around!