illustrations / drawings by C.F. Tunnicliffe


We recently received a parcel from the UK containing, amongst other things, a collection of Ladybird Books. And what is more, I was particularly excited to spot ‘THE FARM’ by M.E. GAGG N.F.U with illustrations by C.F Tunnicliffe one of my favourite artists. If I were wealthier, he is definitely an artist who’s work I would collect. What is more, though an English man from Cheshire, he lived on the Isle of Anglesea, or Ynys Mon in Welsh, a stones throw from my mother.

The Ladybird book is like all others but his illustrations are clearly scenes from Anglesea and clearly in the 1950’s. It’s a landscape that still (just) remains and very recognisable from my childhood as this is where we would holiday every summer. It’s a beautiful landscape especially when not raining!

However it is not this work I admire in Tunnicliffe but the intricate studies in pencil and watercolour of birds. He lived in a modest house overlooking an estuary clearly for the daily access to the subject of his best work and obsession, birds. Local, children would bring him specimens found dead in the surrounding area and he would make these beautiful studies. Studies made purely for the objective wonder of pattern colour and form as it appeared in  the scapulars, the primaries and upper tail coverts…


  • Share/Save/Bookmark


La Vida Los Vélez / de la amenaza

Last Saturday was a wonderful and enlightening day for us here at Los Gázquez. We, along with others from the Andalucían Bird Society, were guests of our friend and colleague Jesús Contreras of OZ NATURE, wildlife guide and total enthusiast for all things natural and from Almería. If you are  in these parts make sure you contact him as a guide if you should ever want deep insight to the natural world and the creatures that populate it in these desert lands.

The day started with a trip to our neighbours over the mountain at the ‘Las Almohallas Centro de Recuperación de Especies Amenzadas’, the centre for the recuperation of threatened species. This is where I found this wonderful Eagle Owl…


Sadly he/she will never return to the wild as it’s wings were damaged by power lines.

la_directorThis is the director of the centre cradling what is normally a very gregarious Barn Owl. With fewer people there, apparently, he happily jumps from shoulder to shoulder.

Having once been a volunteer ‘chick weigher’ for the Barn Owl Conservation Trust in the UK I can only imagine this to be a slightly painful experience as those small but powerful talons grab ones shoulder.

This bird too will never return to the wild as nearly all these creatures are victims to power lines, smugglers, hunters, farmers putting out poison etc. It’s a long litany of assaults on innocent wildlife and something repeated on a daily basis all around the world.

tortugaThis is one of hundreds of tortoise confiscated from smugglers by the Guardia Civil. These smugglers are taking the reptiles from the Atlas mountains of Morocco and selling them to the European pet trade completely illegally. We have native species in Almería too, the biggest threat to them is fire. As Spain is currently in it’s longest drought in 40 years the danger this summer through fire to these animals is much increased.


This is a Bonelli’s Eagle, another victim. This bird can live up to 32 years, let’s hope it’s not all behind bars…

PeregrinThis little Peregrine Falcon was just so beautiful and sadly again another injured bird. However the work undertaken by the Junta de Andalucía’s environmental department is crucial in so many ways. Not only do they recuperate birds to return to nature but they enrol those that can’t return to the wild into breeding programmes. This way these animals have the opportunity to maintain population levels in their natural environment.

And what was also stunning is that on this day we got ‘up close and personal’ with a recuperating Golden Eagle. He was was not in the least afraid of us, in fact he danced about making threatening gestures which was fantastic and you could really witness the power of the bird.

And the next photo I am proud of. The good news is that it’s a Bonelli’s Eagle nearly ready to be returned to the wild. It just goes to show what great photographic results you can get even with limited equipment. In many ways I would say the limitation forces you to be more creative within the limits imposed upon you…


The day went on to more encounters with birds including Griffon Vultures etc. So I would like to say a big thank you to Jesús again and make sure you look him up next time you are in Almería Oz Nature

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Comments (3)

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.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Comments (1)

Bee-Eater Colony

beeeater colony

Every spring and summer at some point we take a short cut through the Rambla Cabrera on the way to the Cabo de Gata. And here without fail we pass this colony of European Bee-Eaters Merops apiaster. They dig quite deep holes into the sand bank where they lay a clutch of up to 8 spherical white eggs. Their communities are gregarious and they can sit in long lines on the electrical pylons waiting to make  a quick sortie to catch a bee, wasp or hornet. Before consuming it’s prey it removes the sting by bashing the insect on a hard surface. Amazingly they can eat up to 250 bees daily.

bee eaters

  • Share/Save/Bookmark