Thursday, 10 April 2014


The area around Cabo de Gata houses some interesting Flora like the tall Sisal plants that were cultivated here, to make rope. There used to be huge forest like plantations, but now, even though they are not as prolific, they make for an interesting landscape as we drove towards the Tabernas.

Also cultivated here in huge numbers, were the plants of the Prickly Pear, that were introduced to
provide food for the Coccid bug, from which Cochineal was obtained.
You can see all over the area of Cabo de Gata, what remains of the Prickly Pear farms.

What a backdrop the Tabernas makes for a western and indeed many were filmed here, also Lawrence of Arabia. There is a tourist attraction here called Mini Hollywood and two western towns that were used as film sets and no, I did not find Clint there!

The Tabernas is indeed a labyrinth of desolate mountains, and plateaux, an almost luna landscape, stretching as far as the eye can see. This area gets less than 250mm of rain in a year and is the only true sub-desert area in Europe.

The landscape has been eroded by torrential rainstorms into spectacular gullies, down to cuttings and ravines, in the bottom of which are what are known as Ramblas, dry river beds.
 Although vegetation here is scarce, you will find that after rain these water courses have
Tamarisks, Oleanders and reeds flowering on the margins.

It is hard to describe the impact of this landscape, as you look out on its desolation and the way light and shadows from the clouds, play over its contours.

Below is a photograph of Cistanche phelypaea, lutea, a parasitic plant, that grows in the higher rocky ground, it is rather similar to the Common Broomrape.

Although it is extremely difficult to photograph birds in this area, a little like looking for a needle in a haystack, Mike caught this very obliging male Stonechat, perched high on some dry scrub.

Normally hiding as deep in a bush a possible, this beautiful male Sardinian Warbler, below,
peeps out at the camera.

A female Trumpeter Finch feeding on the seed heads of Sea Lavender among some of the small wild flowers present in the Rambla.

Some elusive Stone-curlew on the scrub land. Mike spent along time stalking them, as those enormous yellow eyes see every movement!

The photograph below gives some sense of the enormity of the Tabernas and the scale, with a
whole village looking rather lost in the desert.

The Tabernas is an amazing area, not what one would call pretty, but it is a magnificent and brooding
place. The colours and the play of light and shadow over it. We leave you with this rather iconic photograph of late afternoon shadows and Palm Trees.

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