Sierra de Cadiz

Geology and climate


Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is an outstanding limestone massif situated between Cadiz and Malaga province, not far from the Strait of Gibraltar. The composition of these mountains generates a typical karstic landscape, including numerous caves, gorges and sinkholes. This massif is a real wall to the winds loaded with moisture from the Atlantic Ocean, and as a result,Sierra de Grazalema is the place with highest rainfall index in the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula, despite the summer drought that suffers. This massif represents an area of extraordinary scenic, geological and botanical interest.

Vegetation


The Pinsapar (Spanish fir forest), is the most characteristic plant formation of this natural park. Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo) is a unique fir, vestige of the last ice age, that that led to the declaration of these mountains as a Biosphere Reserve and Natural Park. However, these
mountains contain a vast area of a lust and well conserved Mediterranean forest of holm, Portuguese and cork oaks. Sierra de Grazalema owns a very rich floristic diversity, consisting of more than 1375 species. This figure represents something more than twenty-five percent of the species described for Spain and a percentage higher than fifty-five percent of the species of Western Andalusia.

Mediterranean forest birds


Holm, Portuguese and cork oaks, combined with a dense undergrowth of Mediterranean vegetation, represent perfect shelter for a large number of passerines and raptors. In addition, we can find the best preserved forest of the unique Spanish fir, endemism of the area that led to the declaration of this park as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Possible birds:
Residents: Iberian grey shrike, Iberian green woodpecker, Sardinian warbler, Dartford warbler
Breeding: Subalpine warbler, Iberian chiffchaff, Short-toed eagle, Booted eagle.

Mountain Birds


Sierra de Cadiz rises from its base at 200m to 1648m over sea level, in just 15 km of ascent. This offers us the opportunity of reaching a lot of different mountain habitats in a relative small area, which means large number of birds in a single day of observation.In addition, here you can enjoy one of the largest colonies of Griffon vultures in Spain.
Possible birds:
Residents:  Black wheathear, Blue rock thrush, Red billed chough, Thekla lark, Bonelli's eagle, Griffon vulture, Golden eagle, Peregrine falcon.
Wintering: Alpine accentor, Ring ouzel.

Breeding: Egyptian vulture, Common rock thrush .

Countryside birds


At the base of the mountains, farmlands, dehesas, olive groves and cereal crops extent to distant horizons. This humanized landscapes are inhabited for very interesting steppe species, beautiful raptors and colorful passerines. 
Possible birds:
Residents: Stone curlew, Black-winged kite, Spanish sparrow.
Breeding:  Woodchat shrike, Lesser kestrel, European bee-eater, Montagu's harrier.

Wetlands birds


We have the opportunity to visit several wetlands just at the base of Sierra de Cadiz, where we could enjoy a large number of waterfowl. Tamarix and shore forest are refuge and main roosting area for great number of herons, ducks, passerines or raptors. Enjoying the sunset over the wetlands could be the perfect ending for a birding day at Sierra de Cadiz.
Possible birds:
Residents: White-headed duck, Eurasian spoonbill, Marsh harrier, Kingfisher, Little egret, Cattle egret, Ferrugineus duck.
Breeding: Isabelline warbler, Black-crowned heron, Purple heron, Squacco heron.
Wintering: Greater flamingo, Osprey, Hen harrier.