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Outing Report: La Almoraima

26 March 2024

Outings to La Almoraima are always popular. It is one of the most accessible woodland sites from Gibraltar and the walk is a very easy one. This year’s outing was attended by no fewer than 30 members, with ages spanning across eight decades.

The outing began with an obligatory stop for breakfast, at Venta La Cantina. We then moved on to the bridge over the Guadarranque river, where our walk would begin. A short watch from the old bridge produced a few birds in song such as Blackcaps, Iberian Chiffchaffs and Common Chaffinches, but it was another spectacle that most impressed us. A few flowering Eucalyptus around the bridge were attracting hundreds of Monarch butterflies, mesmerising all of us below. 

We walked along the usual track (the old road) which was disappointingly poor in orchids this year. A Sawfly Orchid Ophrys tenthrendinifera with some hybrid traits was the only one we were able to find other than a stand of Bumblebee Orchids Ophrys bombiliflora that some of us have been visiting for three decades. The plants were still there, although not as impressive as other years because much of the little glade where they grow had been trampled by cattle. Plenty of Star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum baeticum were obvious along the track and one of the highlights of the morning was a Latticed Stinkhorn Clathrus ruber, an attractive but very smelly mushroom that attracted flies as our members took turns photographing it. Also impressive was the diversity of lichens in view.

A typical selection of woodland birds was detected, often heard and sometimes seen, although it was somewhat too early for migrant species that can be expected just one or two weeks later in the spring. Species seen included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest, Blue & Great Tits, Serin and Greenfinch. Hawfinch provided just a couple of fleeting glimpses but a Woodlark showed well briefly as it sang from the top of a tree. Finally, some members took themselves up to the castle of Castellar, where they were treated to Eurasian Griffons drifting by, Blue Rock Thrush and the colony of Lesser Kestrels.

The outing ended with lunch at the Venta La Jarandilla.