MAY WILDLIFE

The Axarquia is a wildlife paradise. There's little intensive farming, limited industry, lots of wild land and a gentle climate. May is mid spring and all nature knows it: if you are a wildlife lover get out of doors and look about. Here are some of the things you might want to keep an eye out for. Flowers April and May are poppy-time – you find them scattered about banks, sometimes a rag-tag few, sometimes a field-full that wants to be a Van Gogh painting with all that implausible colour crying out to be seen. In the Natural Park you see the white flowering asphodel and masses of pink rock-roses. You may see late orchids; pink butterfly orchids or the sawfly orchid. In fact flora is everywhere, bursting out of every bit of rough ground, from the dramatic Giant Fennel to the tiny blue pimpernel. Look for Convolvulus, Morning Glory, Spanish Vetchling, Small Tree Mallow, False Sowthistle, Smooth Hawksbit, Musk Storksbill, Blue Alkanet and Borage. Beetles, Butterflies, Bugs Butterflies are pretty but I'm as fond of the bugs and beetles you find among the flowers. Even the beetles I see bravely rolling dung-balls backwards on the dirt tracks (as if they just can't face the task) are fascinating. Little red lygaeus bugs appear on every stony path, and will then disappear like snow in a thaw. I sometimes spot weevils - strange creatures, with a trunk-like proboscis and weird antenna. Look out for Spanish Festoon, Green Veined White and Maxarine Blue butterflies, Common Wave moths, Darkling Beetles, Carpenter bees, Spurge bugs, and the red and black Lygaeus bugs. Birds Millions of birds fly from Africa to Europe each spring: we are on the flight path. Skies over the towns are full of swallows and swifts while the house martins are renovating their mud nests on our buildings. The raptors are back, too: you will see eagles, buzzards and falcons if you look about. Try spotting Willow Warbler, Chiff-Chaff, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted flycatcher, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Booted Eagles, Snake Eagles. Listen out for the Melodious Warbler and the Cuckoo. Beasts I see more reptiles from this time on because of the warmth; lizards sit out on the sandy paths in the morning to warm up; geckos climb walls, stalking the mosquitoes the lights attract. You might, if you are lucky, see a young chameleon. As for mammals, if you go walking you may well see Ibex – the mountain goat. But the main mammal I start seeing more of is the humble bat. That may be because there are more insects with the rising warmth – or it may be that I am out at dusk more often in May than in March. For more about Malaga's wildlife and where to find it see my blog at www.wildingmalaga.com

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