Saturday, 8 October 2011

Seville 26th September - 1st October 2011

Seville was even hotter, cool in the early mornings but again by about 11:30 in the morning it was like being in a furnace!

After getting settled in to the hotel we walked in to the centre to see the Giralda, the mosque tower converted to a cathedral tower when the Moors were overthrown in 1248. The mosque tower was built by the Almohads and is one of only 3 in the world, the other 2 being in Rabat and Marrakesh in Morocco which I saw last year on Davids 48th birthday holiday extravaganza. It was very impressive and one of the highlights of the trip and we managed to climb to the top of it, something you can not do with the 2 in Morocco. A colony of lesser kestrels nests in the tower but on climbing it I didn't see any but when we went to see the tower on another evening as dusk fell and it was lit up I saw a few birds flying around the tower calling before they disappeared inside. Best of all though was the fact that the day we decided to climb the tower it was international tourism day and it was free so we saved ourselves 15 Euros!
Giralda by day

Giralda by night
We also visited the Seville Alcazar, the old Moorish palace and gardens, and despite the heat they were stunningly beautiful and impressive. Ring necked parakeets flew around the gardens and a scarce swallowtail butterfly was seen amongst the flowers adding to the exoticness of the place.
Ring necked parakeet in the Alcazar gardens, Seville
Frog in an ornamental pond outside the archeological museum, Seville

We visited the Roman ruins of Italica just outside Seville which were interesting with an impressive Roman amphitheatre, apparently the 3rd largest in the Roman world. I added a male pochard, coot, little grebe and 10 greylag geese to my bird list, all of these seen on a small lake amongst the ruins. 2 ravens flew overhead and crested larks were everywhere. 5 yellow wagtails flew over calling, again of unknown race. The best sighting though was a pretty gourd type plant growing everywhere on the dry, bare ground, with a curious habit of squirting a powerful jet of liquid when you picked the fruits off the plant and which could be quite painful if you got caught by it!

Roman mosaic, Italica

Interesting Roman mosaic, Italica
Interesting Roman mosaic, Italica

Water canon gourd plants, Italica

We also visited on a day trip the Roman necropolis at Carmona with its strange burial tombs dug out of the rock and while eating lunch of olives, crisps and fruit on the top of a ridge at the edge of the town I saw 5 griffon vultures high overhead before they drifted off out of sight. Despite their height in the sky they still appeared huge and one stooped at another with its feet and neck stretched out before they carried on their way. Also seen were some lesser kestrels patrolling the hillside in the strong updraughts and a fire bug, dragonflies and some kind of grasshopper/locust.

Fire Bug


Grasshopper/locust - very well camoflagued against the sandy soil

Davids birthday was the 30th September and we travelled by train to Cadiz for the day with a stop off at Jerez on the way back to visit a sherry bodega with tastings which was good fun. From the train we saw more greater flamingoes and white storks and also black winged stilits.

Cadiz though was very pleasent with a refreshing sea breeze and a relaxed air, very like Essaouria in Morocco which we visited last year for Davids birthday. Bird wise it was interesting with another honey buzzard seen flying over the exposed rocks along the shore putting up turnstones, 2 whimbrels and ringed plovers feeding amongst them. Gulls were well represented with Yellow legged, Lesser black backed and Black headed seen along with a juvenile Great black backed and a juvenile and 2nd winter Mediterranean found amongst them. Also seen were quite a few cricket/cockroach beetle things, some unknown species of moths and various dragonflies as we wandered around Cadiz and monk parakeets were noisey and obvious as they were nest building in the palm trees around the town.

Monk parakeet, Cadiz

Cricket/ cockroach sp., Cadiz
Unknown Moth sp., ? Eggar
Dragonfly sp.
The 1st October and yet again we were off on the train, this time to Granada. No Preferente class again and the journey was over 3 hours on a very packed train with more sightings of greater flamingoes, egrets and large raptors overhead.

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