Twixt Here'nThere

A spasmodic, serendipitous, journal to show what's happening or not in England, Spain, Portugal and wherever else perchance to roam. Travel, languages, sailing, religion, sex and politics, living abroad, the Pacific Ocean including Easter Island. News from: 'Navasola', in the hills of Aracena at Fuenteheridos; Cabanas de Tavira in Portugal; the cool cool banks of the muddy Humber; and from Pedro (Coelho), Max (Happydays), Tigger, Georgina (my Georgi girl) and Theo and friends in the Great Wen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Navasola Nature
Living with Nature Breaks
Courses - Holidays - Retreats
Natural History of the Sierra de Aracena
Spring flowers, birds and more in Western Andalucía
(including visits to Doñana, Extremadura and Portugal’s Alentejo)
2007 Dates:
Sat 14 April - Sat 21 April
This week will be our first based in Fuenteheridos, for which we are delighted to be accompanied by guest leader Teresa Farino:
As you will know , the success of any special interest holiday depends crucially on the abilities and experience of the tutor or course leader. Teresa lives in the Picos de Europa, in northern Spain, and has been leading very successful wildlife tours in Spain and Portugal since 1989, for some of the leading companies in this field. Teresa knows Andalucia well and amongst her many publications is Travellers' Nature Guides: Spain (co-authored with Mike Lockwood), which was published by Oxford University Press in 2004. She describes herself as "probably a botanist first and foremost", but is very knowledgeable about all aspects of Iberian wildlife, particularly butterflies and moths.

The Sierra de Aracena Natural Park lies at the extreme western end of the Sierra Morena Biosphere Reserve, abutting Portugal to the west and Extremadura to the north.

During our week in the Sierra we will visit all the principal habitats of the park from our base in Fuenteheridos. An exploration of Trevor’s quietly secluded finca nearby will give us a good introduction to the flora and fauna of the chestnut groves and evergreen forest. We will be ranging further afield to take in the colourful limestone vegetation of the Peña de Arias Montano, the evergreen oak dehesas (wood-pastures) of the Sierra de las Contiendas and the riverside pastures of the Río Múrtiga and the Rivera de Huelva.

A trip to the Gruta de las Maravillas in Aracena itself is a must, where water trickling through the subterranean limestone cave system for millennia has given rise to crystalline deposits, stalagmites and stalactites, forming one of the most spectacular caves in Europe. We will also visit some of the more picturesque villages, hamlets and chapels of the park.

In spring, the Sierra de Aracena bursts into life. Chestnut groves and dehesas are carpeted with drifts of western peony, pink, blue and yellow lupins, Spanish bluebell and Barbary nut iris, Fritillaria hispanica, mirror ophrys and conical and naked man orchids. Colourful migrant birds have already arrived by April, with bee-eaters busy staking out their nest sites in roadside banks, and red-rumped swallows investigating the many stone bridges of the park.
The chestnut groves are teeming with migrant passerines at this time of year, and are renowned for their breeding lesser spotted woodpecker, woodlark, Iberian chiffchaff, redstart and rock sparrow, while the dehesa harbours black-eared wheatear, crested tit, short-toed treecreeper, woodchat shrike, Iberian azure-winged magpie and cirl bunting.

Black storks feed in the marshy grasslands along the River Múrtiga, to the background accompaniment of myriad nightingales and Cetti’s warblers, while in the skies above, the huge silhouettes of black vultures are a frequent sight, on foraging expeditions from their stronghold in the nearby Sierra Pelada.
Griffon and Egyptian vultures, black and red kites and booted and short-toed eagles are also seen regularly, with other vertebrate denizens of the park commonly encountered including Iberian hare, large psammodromus and Bosca’s newt. Butterflies on the wing at this time of year include the delightful Spanish festoon.

As a complete contrast of habitat, one day will be spent in the internationally renowned Doñana National Park, where the bird-rich wetlands support spoonbill, glossy ibis, squacco and purple herons, purple gallinule and marsh harrier, and we will also visit the extensive arable plains of Extremadura, close to the Portuguese border, in search of lesser kestrel, Montagu’s harrier, great bustard and roller.

Price: £699, to include en-suite bed and breakfast accommodation in Fuenteheridos, evening meal, picnic lunches, minibus/4WD transport throughout, all entry fees and the services of Teresa Farino and Trevor Bending as leaders. Two persons sharing (twin or double) qualify for a 10% discount, taking the price per person to £629, with a 5% discount applicable to two or more bookings in single rooms (£664).

This is a land-based tour (Seville-Seville). Flights and travel insurance (obligatory) are the responsibility of the client.
Pick-up details: The tour will commence at Seville airport on Saturday 14 April. Trevor will meet evening Iberia and Ryanair flights from Heathrow, Liverpool and Stansted, subject to schedules (available in the autumn of 2006, in the case of Ryanair), which currently arrive in Seville between 20.20 and 21.00. It may also be possible to meet clients arriving on earlier flights, who would then spend the afternoon in Seville. Please do not book flights until final course booking is confirmed in December/January.

On the return trip on Saturday 21 April, Trevor will drop clients at Seville airport at lunchtime, to connect with Iberia flight IB4144, which departs at 14.05, arriving at Heathrow at 15.40. Clients travelling on later flights may spend the afternoon in Seville. (Please enquire for further details once schedules are published and before booking your flights.) Find out about flights on the Iberia and Ryanair websites - and
Alternatively, those travelling to Fuenteheridos or Aracena independently can arrange to meet the group on the first evening.
Group size: maximum 7 persons.
Booking information: please contact Teresa Farino or Trevor Bending for further details and a booking form, or if you have any queries about this tour.
Trevor Bending
Office phone (UK): 0208 572 6790
Mobile phone (Spain):00 34 690 747987
70 Westbrook Road
London TW5 0NG    UK

Teresa Farino
Office phone: 00 34 942 735154
Mobile phone: 00 34 656 337129
Apartado de Correos 59
39570 Potes
Cantabria, Spain


At 5:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor - it sounds truly wonderful! One day I'm sure we'd like to do a similar course.

Have you thought about binoculars and other equipment that course participants would need? Will you be advising them; and also, what wil you do if someone inadvertently turns-up without them?


Ru :)

At 5:28 pm, Blogger Trevor Himself said...

Guess we'll have to have some spares!


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