The Arrival of Summer?

The cove at the end of Las Negras beach

The cove at the end of Las Negras beach

The weather this March has been very changeable. There have been warm, sunny days but we have also had cooler and windy days plus a fair amount of rain. This weekend the weather has settled and we are promised fair weather through Easter. On Friday morning I went to the end of las Negras beach and cleared the cove there of rubbish, filling a sack with all the plastic that had been washed up in the recent storms. Not our job but the council will not do it. Here is a photo I took after.

Off las Negtas beach

Off las Negras beach

Yesterday was another glorious day. Here are a couple of photos I took early morning at Las Negras.

Landing at Las Negras

Landing at Las Negras

It was good to see activity on the sea and the water taxis to San Pedro prepared for visitors again.

Olive trees and ruins above Las Negras

Olive trees and ruins above Las Negras

Today was even warmer with the temperature in the high twenties. We walked over the mountains to el Valle de Rodalquilar.

El Valle de Rodalquilar

El Valle de Rodalquilar

The light was brilliant and the countryside looked so fresh after the recent rain.

El Playazo

El Playazo

Cove beaneath Bateria de San Ramon

Cove beaneath Bateria de San Ramon

Down at El Playazo and the beach beneath the Bateria de San Ramon visitors were enjoying the beach and the sea.

Walkers along the coast

Walkers along the coast

We walked back to Las Negras along the coastal path encountering many other wakers along the way.

Cala del Cuervo with Las Negras behind

Cala del Cuervo with Las Negras behind

The photo above is of Cala del Cuervo, the last cove before Las Negras.

looking towards San Pedro

looking towards San Pedro

This photo was taken from the cliffs above Las Negras looking towards Cala de San Pedro.

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Sarcocapnos enneaphylla

sarcoc

Sarcocapnos enneaphylla

This very rare plant, which grows in shaded cracks and crevices of rocks, is one of the loveliest of spring flowers. This example was photographed yesterday afternoon on the cliffside between Las Negras and El Cuervo.

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Partial eclipse at Las Negras this morning

Partial eclipse of the sun

Partial eclipse of the sun

We are experiencing some unusually wet and windy weather in Almeria at the moment. Two things in its favour though. Firstly it will keep the countryside fresh for the annual visit from the botanists of Kew gardens just after Easter. Secondly, the cloud cover made it easy to take some dramatic photographs of this morning’s partial eclipse of the sun.

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Down on the Farm

Manuel picking habas (broad beans)

Manuel picking habas (broad beans)

Returning from our morning walk we stopped at the finca of the Garcia family at the edge of Las Negras beneath the San Pedro cliff path to buy some fresh vegetables.

Washing the spring onions at the water deposit

Washing the spring onions at the water deposit

Manuel, the owner, picked us some broad beans, spring onions and a lettuce. Beautiful, fresh organic produce.

Spring onions, lettuce and potatoes

Spring onions, lettuce and potatoes

The next crop will be potatoes.

Three donkeys

Three donkeys

While we were waiting  for Manuel to pick our order we spoke to the two donkeys and the foal, Canario.

Chickens

Chickens

They also keep chickens so you can buy eggs here too. This is one of the few remaining, traditional farms in the area.

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More Notes on Spring Flora

Alongside the Rambla de Las Agüillas

Alongside the Rambla de Las Agüillas

We went for two walks today. First, this morning we walked down the Rambla de las Agüillas and across the track to the San Pedro cliff path to take us back to Las Negras. The strong March sunshine enhances the brilliant red and yellow of the poppies and Bermuda buttercups and the acacias, now in flower.

The track from the rambla to the cliffs

The track from the rambla to the cliffs

Into the mountains, the mauves of the cistus and agonies are the predominant colours.

Fagonia and viper's bugloss

Fagonia and viper’s bugloss

Tumbling down the steep mountainside are massed clumps of fagonia and bright blue viper’s bugloss.

The mountains from the cliff path

The mountains from the cliff path

The mountains of the Cabo de Gata are impressive in the clear morning light.

Broomrape

Broomrape

We found a very good example of one of the more common broomrapes to be found in and around Las Negras.

Looking up the ravine

Looking up the ravine

This afternoon, we scrambled up a ravine above the Rambla Aires de Las Negras to look at the botany there.

A different variety of broomrape

A different variety of broomrape

As we began our ascent, we discovered a splendid specimen of a broomrape I haven’t seen before . Unlike the other varieties we see here, which favour dry, sandy habitats, it was growing in a damp, grassy place.

Lavender in the ravine

Lavender in the ravine

Thanks to the heavy rain during a storm last month, our normally arid mountains have been transformed into lush green. Ribbons of white Bell’s daisies cascade down the ramblas and great banks of lavender scent the air.

Grape hyacinths

Grape hyacinths

Little grape hyacinths cluster in the cracks and crevices and ….

Blue Pimpernels

Blue Pimpernels

…. everywhere are blue pimpernels.

Daisies and lichen

Daisies and lichen

The air here is very pure and this encourages the growth of lichen on the rocks.

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Botanical Notes from Las Negras

Rambla de las Agüillas

Rambla de las Agüillas

Spring is now in full bloom in the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata and the ramblas of Las Negras are bursting with colour.

Wild flowers below an old stone wall

Wild flowers below an old stone wall

Wild poppies add splashes of red to the yellows of Bermuda buttercups and flowering shrubs.

Red-horned poppy

Red-horned poppy

Most of the poppies are of the common variety but I found this particularly striking example of a red-horned poppy while walking along the path from Rambla de Las Agüillas to the coast path to San Pedro yesterday.

Toadflax?

Toadflax?

I came across this pretty pink flower, which I had trouble identifying, along the same path. I presume it is an unusual, branched version of a very common toadflax which grows everywhere here.

Platycapnos

Platycapnos

Amongst the grasses along the path are brilliant splashes of colour in the form of Platycapnos spicata, a most attractive little plant.

Lavatera Maritima

Lavatera Maritima

Along the coastal path, and in San Pedro, shrubs of Lavatera maritima,with their velvety mauve flowers and striking green sepals, are in bloom.

White flowered toadflax

White flowered toadflax

We walked to the back of the little landlocked valley in San Pedro and found some interesting flora there, including a colony of white-flowered toadflax.

Broomrape

Broomrape

Also we found this splendid specimen of a blue species of broomrape.

Maidenhair fern

Maidenhair fern

In the shady walls below a small embalsa – water deposit – clumps of maidenhair ferns were growing in the crevices.

Viper's bugloss

Viper’s bugloss

On the way back to Las Negras we took this photo looking down at Cala Hernandez with a clump of brilliantly blue viper’s bugloss in the foreground.

Quaking grass

Quaking grass

This afternoon we walked in the wild hillside above the Rambla Aires de Las Negras by our home. Despite its aridity, there are many interesting plants to be found here, including this delicate quaking grass.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

We also found a magnificent example of a gladiolus, the first we’ve seen this spring.

Dipcadi

Dipcadi

Nearby is another interesting flower, well camouflaged in this environment, a dipcadi, not unlike a brown bluebell in appearance.

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Rambles along Ramblas

Rambla Aires de Las Negras

Rambla Aires de Las Negras

After our 8 course San Valentin dinner on Saturday evening, a long walk was called for on Sunday morning and so we headed up the Rambla Aires de Las Negras which passes below our house. The blossom on the almond trees and the wild flowers in bloom make this a particularly attractive walk this time of year.

Daisy taking a drink

Daisy taking a drink

Instead of following the main path up to Las Hortichuelas, we forked right and followed a barranco which seemed to head up to the top of the mountain ridge and the estepa above. It was quite hard-going as the barranco is little more than a gully and quite steep in places. There are damp places where the vegetation is very dense and in the rocky hollows there are pools of water where the dogs were able to take a drink.

Pink Malva

Pink Malta

Malva maritima is now in flower and bushes of it abound up here. The flowers are normally lilac, but this particular example was a very pretty, dark pink.

As far as we went

As far as we went

We got as far as this spot and decided to turn back as we were afraid that the way would become more difficult and we did not want to get stuck. Digby will explore further on his own one day.

Looking towards Las Negras and the sea

Looking towards Las Negras and the sea

After descending we crossed over a hillock to the main path and enjoyed the wonderful views looking back towards Las Negras and the sea.

Towards Las Hortichuelas Bajas

Towards Las Hortichuelas Bajas

We rejoined the main path and headed up towards Las Hortichuelas Altas. This view is looking down on Las Hortichuelas Bajas.

Las Hortichuelas Altas

Las Hortichuelas Altas

We stopped and Las Hortichuelas Altas to take some refreshment in the village bar before returning back to Las Negras.

From the coastal path

From the coastal path

Yesterday afternoon we walked along the coast from Las Negras to the next cove, Cala del Cuervo, and then up the Rambla del Cuervo which is a gentle circular walk of about 6km.

Barbary Nut

Barbary Nut

We were delighted to see the first Barbary nuts, blue mini-irises in flower.

Silene

Silene

Along the rambla are clumps of attractive Silene.

Another barranco

Another barranco

Las Friday we tried another branch off the Rambla Aires de Las Negras and enjoyed some great views.

Mountain scenery

Mountain scenery

We were hoping to find a circular route over to the Rambla de Las Negras and back down but we found ourselves at a dead end.

Courage on the beach at El Playazo

Courage on the beach at El Playazo

The weather has not been perfect every day. We had some rain and wild weather during the middle of last week and it is raining again today. The photo above was taken at El Playazo last Tuesday. When the sun came out the colours of the sea were beautiful

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