Archive for Creatures

On Wild Cats and Eagles…

Bonelli's eaglewild cat paw printThe final day of last weeks creative course, ‘Caminos Altos’ saw us walk up to the snow line of the Sierra Gigante. Through the forested north facing slopes of the mountain amongst the Aleppo Pines we followed these rather strange foot prints (left). Like us they were using the camino as good access through the countryside but unlike us they seemed to have a pretty clear row of rather fearsome looking claws across the front of the pads. We suspected a wild cat but could not be sure until we met a local hunter hanging off a precipice in his 4×4 about to fall to his death. Once rescued by our Land Rover he indeed confirmed that it was the print of a wild cat.

Once the hunter (I won’t use his name) was restored to his bar in Vélez Blanco we all returned to Los Gázquez. To our delight we got an ‘up close and personal’ encounter with this eagle (above) which was on the ground, with his rabbit prey, very close to the road. Getting this close allowed us to confirm positively using the Collin’s Birds of Britain and Europe that it was indeed a rare Bonelli’s Eagle.

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Little Owl

little owl

Unbeknownst to us Los Gázquez had a little visitor the other night, and come the morning we were surprised to hear a tapping on the glass door from within the wood burner. In all the soot inside we could only see a pair of bright yellow eyes, a little owl.

Experience has taught me, whilst briefly working for The Barn Owl Trust weighing chicks, that small or not owls have fearsome talons that grip tightly. So I donned a pair of tough gloves and initiated a rescue.

This achieved with the minimum of fuss, and after a close inspection by the children he was released back into the wild. A bright, white snowy wild for a sooty little owl.

Know more about the little owl here.

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Ibex on the Hoof

ibex medley

Last Friday afternoon, on the return school run, Donna, Solomon and Sesamé spotted these wild ibex. They casually moved away from the car slowly stopping to see who was looking at them. In her haste Donna took the shots through the windscreen, hence the indifferent quality. But no matter it’s nice to know these creatures are out there. Wild.

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Los Caminos de la Luna

Los Caminos de la Luna

Or walking by moonlight. The next full moon falls upon August the 6th and Los Gazquez has planned a series of midnight walks on or around this date.

And what a date too, for it happens to coincide more or less with the Lagrimas de San Lorenzo, which is a spectacular meteor shower which sends hundreds of shooting stars across the sky. It is a good opportunity to hear the creatures of the night too,  in the cool and pine scented mountain air.

After an evening meal we leave at about nine o’clock in the evening walking across the mountain caminos for around four hours before returning to Los Gazquez for a small supper.

The next walk by moonlight will be on or around the 4th of September.

Please make enquiries here or via the web site.

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This Man’s New Best Friend

Maxine ful profile

This is Maxine  our new family member. She is a two year old Giant Schnauzer who needed a new home. Her previous owner had to leave Spain and didn’t want her dog to go through the trauma of quarantine. So she now has a new home with us and what a gorgeous dog she is too.

Maxine sitting

She is quiet, devoted, affectionate and playful often having what are called the ‘rips’, where she goes crazy and runs with insane abandon all around the fields. We could not have wished for a better pet and friend.

Long may she have a happy home at Los Gazquez.

Expect more posts on the life of Maxine in the future. If this is what Schnauzers are like I’ll take a Schnauzer every time.

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One Day I’m Going To Be a Beautiful Butterfly!


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May’s End





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One (dead) Turtle Dove!


Streptopelia turtur was lying dead by our doorstep, the suspect in this crime a falcon of some sort high above the cortijada. A clear puncture wound to the left breast suggests to me the rapier talon of our resident Peregrine, but that’s just my guess.


It was an opportunity not to miss. Let’s celebrate it’s beauty in death. And why should the more common species be overlooked for their lack of rarety.

My love of nature as an artist started when I was drawn to the ‘natura muerta’ paintings of chiaroscuro painters from the Italian rennaissance. And in particular Caravaggio, that astounding genius from Milan. If anyone could fit the stereotype of an ‘artist’ in their life and work this man could. Whilst other ’still life’ paintings merely represented the bounty and wealth attributed to the commissioner, Caravaggio transcended such vulgarity, but not solely as a studier of nature (we should look to Durer for that). Caravaggio had such clarity of vision and such immediacy in application of bright astounding colour. If you have never seen a Caravaggio painting before, all you need to do is look at a single painting and you will recognise the rest of his work from then on.

As for our Turtle Dove, European populations are down 62% due to farming practices such as herbicides.Maybe one day my small celebration of the familiar will appear more unique than we intended.

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Spanish Ibex @ Los Gazquez


A fantastic sight was to be had yesterday at Los Gazquez. Fifteen Spanish Ibex crossing our land. And it’s a fantastic sight to see so many at once. It’s a reminder that you are living in the wild.

Not my photograph sadly but a good example I found here. And not a bad place to look either.

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Geronimo and the Van der Waals Force



I am happy to stand corrected, but I believe this little fellow is (or was) a Mediterranean Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus. Having lost a leg I assume his lack of mobility led him to fall victim to the dry rigours of underfloor heating. But let us celebrate him in death.

No, he is not ‘the‘ Geronimo, the gecko made famous by Gerald Durrell in ‘My Family and Other Animals’, but he is the same type. I love these little guys and I have little objection to them running up the walls and across the ceilings in pursuit of the less wanted fly or other insect. You can see why they have become such a multifarious corporate logo, their agility and benignity makes them very appealing.

But how do they climb so well? Apparently it’s all down to the Van der Waals force which is the attractive (or repulsive) force between molecules. Intermolecular forces have three ‘attractive’ components, electrostatic interaction, polarization and dispersion which is an attraction experienced by non-polar atoms.

This intermolecular Van der Waals force is called anisotropic which means they are dependent on the relative orientation of the molecules. Random thermal motion around room temperature can overcome or disrupt molecular polarity. However, the thermal averaging effect is much less pronounced for the attractive induction and dispersion forces.

Gecko toes are made with extremely fine hairs called setae. Every square milimeter of a gecko’s foot can hold up to 14,000 of these setae. The consequence is that a vast capillary exchange is how the animal exploits the ‘attractive’ components within molecular cells.

It is believed there is only one surface to which a gecko cannot exploit it’s unique talent and that’s on teflon. So if you are feeling peckish and your larder is a little bare you can always easily fry up a gecko or too. Although you might be better off letting them carry on being your natural insecticide.

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