Tag Archives: Rivers

River filming and solitary bees

Took the camera down to get some river shots to add to the doc which was rather refreshing. On my way down the road I also thought I could include the bones that the eagles incessantly drop and eat the marrow from the scattered remnants of old and sick goats that died on their last “paseo” across the vast Mijas mountain ranges.

bones on roof from eagle

I have never found out which are the ones that do such a thing, what a shot that would make! Many raptors do this: gaining access to the nutritious marrow which is often the only scraps left from an otherwise arid landscape. Also some scenes of a rather impressive algarroba tree.

Algarrobo tree

By the time I got the river, it was still rather stifling hot at 6pm, so I rapped up with a couple of river scenes and did a piece to camera on solitary bees. Originally I was going to one on ants, but seeing that they moved around at an impossible speed, I decided an over-worked bee would be slightly easier but no less interesting. The poor insect clearly had seen better days, it had literally worked itself into this state, as a solitary worker bee.

Me presenting bee

Most people have the perception that these ancient insects are primarily social, however, over 90% are solitary bees! The females will find crevices and cracks to construct underground nests, where they will lay their eggs. The food provided to the offspring in the form of pollen and nectar (the only diet of the bee’s having evolved down a different dietary route from their carnivorous ancestors, wasps). This food is gathered, but after no care is given after laying the eggs- unlike in the social colonies. The three social groups include bumble bees, honey bees and the stingless bees. They all exhibit eusocial behaviour, that is, they show the highest level of organization of animal sociality,  defined by cooperative brood care (including brood care of offspring from other individuals), overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and a division of labour into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. The division of labour creates specialized behavioural groups within an animal society which are sometimes called castes . Eusociality is distinguished from all other social systems because individuals of at least one caste usually lose the ability to perform at least one behaviour characteristic of individuals in another caste.

bee 2

I noticed that the goat farmer had marked out all of his land with a pathetic little fence, and in doing so, taking a bit of our own land in the process. He was growing some rather withered looking melons and other unidentifiable crops. What a waste of land!

goat farmers farm, melon shot

He had entirely destroyed the back of the river, along with it all the vital berry bushes and habitat for nesting birds such as the stunning Nightingale and ground nesting birds such as they grey partridge. I actually heard a partridge on my way back up, no luck in seeing it though. All in all, quite a fun experience and got some good footage to edit, it’s a wrap!

 

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July 16th Benahavis , Marbella

WOW! Today saw the most incredible river gorge system and had an amazing time at Benahavis, situated just 3 miles, beyond the glitz and glamour of the popular tourist and celebrity resort city of Marbella. Benahavis is a Spanish mountain village situated between Marbella, Estepona, and Ronda, approximately seven kilometres from the coast. It is dotted by an impressive 9 out of the 60 golf courses in the Costa Del Sol and is renowned for its restaurants, it is often called the dining room of the Costa del Sol. On the southern face of La Serrania de Ronda mountain range, Benahavis is one of the most mountainous villages on the western Costa del Sol. Situated near the resort beaches as well as the spectacular mountains of the Serrania de Ronda, its terrain is traversed by the rivers Guadalmina, Guadaiza, and Guadalmansa. It is place of great natural and historic beauty, such as El Cerro del Duque, Daidin, and the Montemayor Castle.

The town itself is surrounded by natural parkland, and retains a typical sleepy Spanish “pueblo” feel. La Zagaleta, an exclusive gated residential estate and country club overlooking the village, lies within its municipal boundaries, and contributes to Benahavis’ status as the richest municipality per capita in Andalucía, which is also clear from the rather luxuriant cars that cruised past us. In recent years there has been extended development of the village and the surrounding area with many hundreds of dwellings being built, not only reducing the percentage of local inhabitants, but also despoiling some of the beautiful landscapes in the mountains and approaches to the village.

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We arrived at 1pm at the car park to a stunning view of the mountain crags and cliffs, not a cloud in the sky and temperatures reaching 36 degrees; a climbers dream world. As we made our way down to the start of the trail, quite a few locals had beaten us to the large river pools that populated the valley gorge, many of which can be jumped into from great heights from the cliff edges. So we thought we would get stuck in too! A smallish jump of 5 metres to start off with into the turquoise waters of the river Guadalmina was a very refreshing and exciting way to start. I took my trainers off, rather disconcerted by the chance of them dragging me down a bit when I jumped in. Gosh, what a refreshing feeling that was to jump into such cool, clear waters after the short walk up to it. We then wanted to further pursue the trail down the river but were stopped in our tracks due a bridge being built overhead, and we were told that it would open up again later in the week or next day, so a rather vague answer. Nevertheless, we went back up and decided to pluck up the courage to jump off the 10metre cliff into the river pool! I was genuinely excited about it, although daunting at first, it was so much fun feeling the freedom of doing it, I can’t describe it! Truly euphoric.

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We all video recorded it with an underwater Olympus camera, will post up a link to it here soon. I jumped twice in the end! As we walked back up the car, we noticed that the red tape had been removed, and presumed that the bridge had been put up. So we refreshed ourselves and headed back up, after the girls flirted with some rather fit looking passer-byes, of course I was much too embarrassed to participate! I then jumped off the larger cliff edge for another thrill before we headed downstream. Many fish populated the large pools of water as well as the main river itself, and were busy avoid our clumsily placed feet. Emma remarked how amazingly good our ancestors would have been good at navigating the river with ease and being able to stalk their prey with subtle movements. We quite fancied the idea of ancestral Homo erectus picking their way through the same pathways, many thousands of years ago. The sight was amazing as we carefully picked are way downstream, hundreds of mating dragonflies danced in unison with their partners and they mated in mid-aid, such a delicate ritual and myriad of colour. Blue, black, fuchsia and emerald green filled the air like sheening confetti. This rather large one pictured below was dead unfortunately after its mating orgy, male dragonflies with compete with other males to mate with as many females as possible before dying.

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One part of the river revealed a mangrove-like back setting that was truly stunning. Couldn’t resist having a photo!

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We eventually got to a more enclosed cave-like part of the river gorge that was far more quiet and serene. We were all so excited to be seeing such beauty and found it thrilling in plunging into the deep darker waters. As we swam the rock formations above us were deeply grooved and shaped by water percolating through it, dripping on our heads which was a welcoming refreshing drink.

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Like the scene from 172 days! Don’t fall on us rock!

The water itself was again a deep turquoise/green colour and was welcomingly warm. Every time we rounded the corner new, stunning sights met us, and the views of the high La Serrania de Ronda mountain range, dotted with pine trees and scree slopes, contrasting against the deep blue sky-perfect weather. I sure did get a good tan that day! One of the pools looked like the scene from a Georgio Armani perfume photo shoot, was too tempting to ask someone to do a pose and throw their hair back! Lots of swimming, many “oh my gosh isn’t it beautiful’s” and many photos. We eventually reached the dam and soaked up the warmth from the sun at the top/ The bridge had literally just been put up and was not yet open to the public, but nevertheless, was up there and had enabled us to have the most incredibly fun afternoon.

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During the late 1990s, the Junta de Andalucía constructed a dam on the site of an old marble quarry, and now for much of the year the once ever-flowing Río Guadalmina is merely a dried-up river bed, but not here! Who would have thought that this tiny secluded little gorge, hidden from the “costa del sol” tourists would have been literally an hours drive from where I live? I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Southern Spain to go and visit it, its free and fun! It’s a bit tricky to get to, but there is plenty of parking and the walk to it is only 5 minutes. I will post up a map for you to follow, but its probably best to punch in the poscode to the town, then follow the bridge over towards the La Serrania de Ronda mountain range.

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Here is a 1:25000 map as promised, enjoy your adventures!

mapa benahavis