Andalucia is a bird watchers paradise, as many migrating flocks cross its skies to reach the thermals and updrafts that only occur above narrow stretches of water, such as the Strait of Gibraltar. Lucky oncologists may see the impressive sight of three thousand white storks making the crossing towards Africa.
Other birds native to Andalucia include 13 species of raptor which hover and circle high above the regions hillier parts, the black vulture, one of Spain’s rarest birds, the Spanish imperial eagle, another rarity, the golden eagle, the Egyptian and griffon vultures, kestrels, buzzards, harriers, red kites, wild ducks, flamingos and some of Andalucia’s most colourful, the bee eater, the hoopoe, the golden oriole, the royal owl and various owls and woodpeckers.
The most common wild animals found in the more remote parts of Andalucia are the mountain goat, the doe deer, the muflon – an introduced species and ancestor of the domestic sheep, the otter, the genet, the ibex, the chamois and the mongoose.
Andalusia is made up of a variety of landscapes, providing optimum growing conditions for various species of trees and other foliage.
Some examples of native trees are the ash and chestnut which like moist areas, the Spanish fir which prefers a drier soil, the carob which grows amongst the pines and produces long, sweet smelling seed pods, the gall, evergreen and cork oak, the wild olive, the juniper, the polar, the willow, the maple, the elm and the alder.
Some of the more common wild flowers found in Andalucia are dwarf and pink convolvulus, sea lavender, Italian sainfoin, crown daisy, purple vipors bugloss, prickly pear, barbary fig, star thistle, wild gladioli, broom, spiny broom, honeysuckle, sage, grey leaved cistus, bishops weed and milk thistle.
In Forest areas the undergrowth is rich in species such as myrtle, bramble, rosemary, and arbutus, among others. Reeds and bulrushes can be found along river valleys.
For Andalucians the most important food produced in the area is ham and during the autumn, pigs are turned out to gorge on fallen acorns, the diet considered to produce the best ham of all.