Secret Hidden Places

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Best wishes

Martyn Thompson
Cabo de Gata Photography


The Ocellated Lizard

The Ocellated Lizard is one of the largest members of its family. The adult is 30 – 60 centimetres long (1 – 2 feet) and may reach up to 90 centimetres (3 feet), its tail makes up about two thirds of its length.

This reptile is found in various habitats from sea level up to 2,100 metres in southern Spain. It prefers dry bushy areas such as open woodland and scrub, old olive groves and vineyards. The lizard usually stays on the ground but climbs well on rocks and in trees.

This is a robust lizard with a serrated collar. The male has a characteristic broad head. It has thick strong legs, with long curved claws. The dorsal background colour is usually green but sometimes grey or brownish especially on head and tail. This is overlaid with black stippling that may form a bold pattern of interconnected rosettes. The underside is yellowish or greenish. The male is brighter in colour than the female and has blue spots on its flanks; there are fewer or none in the female.

The Ocellated Lizard feeds mainly on large insects, especially beetles, and also robs birds’ nests and occasionally takes reptiles, frogs, and small mammals. It also eats fruit and other plant matter, especially in dry areas.

Ocellated Lizard

Ocellated Lizard

Where does the time go?

Ruta Arriera

Ruta Arriera de Felix

Where has the week gone? Last Friday, we went for the day to Felix for the filming of a documentary Ruta Arierra de Felix for Canal Sur; proudly working towards the recovery of social customs and symbols and of local Andalusian traditions.

The programme will be broadcast on Saturday 21 April 2012 at 20:05 on Canal Sur 2 throughout Andalusia. Then from Monday 23 April, you can view it online @ Search for “Espacio Protegido” and click on the broadcast of 21 April.

Anyway, since last Friday, I’ve been desperately trying to sort through the 627 photographs of the day… so why haven’t I succeeded?

…well because (excited but nervous cough) I have been spending all my time since getting photographs and leaflets ready for an exhibition I’m taking part in – my first one in Spain 🙂

This Saturday sees the opening of a mixed exhibition of painting, stained glass & photography in Rodalquilar in the heart of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata.

The exhibitors are:

The address (for those that can make it) is:

Sala de Exposiciones
Calle de Bocamina (ALP-824)
04115 Rodalquilar

So… until I get the remainder of the photos sorted, here are a few from last Friday… hope you like them!

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The opening day of the Rodalquilar art exhibition is this Saturday @ 17.00 and the exhibition runs until 8 April – I hope to see some of you there 🙂

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Sierra de Gádor

View of plastic greehouses (poniente region of Almería)

View of plastic greenhouses ("poniente" region of Almería)

Sierra de Gádor is a mountain range located in the southwestern tip of the province of Almeria. Its maximum height is 2,249m (Morron de la Launilla). Other heights are Pecho Cuchillo (1,968m.), Dos Hermanas (1,991m.), Nuevo Mundo ( 2,107m.) and Morron de los Franceses (2,236m.). It is 50 km long and 20 km at its widest, with a total area of 86,000 ha. It is a relatively small mountainous area with steeply rising tracks that my poor car struggled with.

I visited the Sierra Gádor yesterday with Jesus Contreras of Oz Nature and my saxophone – well why not?

View of Sierra Nevada & Almond blossom

View of Sierra Nevada & Almond blossom

The Sierra de Gádor lies between the Sierra Nevada to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Sierra Alhamilla to the east, and Sierra de La Contraviesa to the west . At its foot is the “Poniente” region of Almería, traditionally called the “Campo de Dalias”. The zone above 1,800m is known locally as “El Pelao” which can have very low temperatures in winter and early spring. There certainly was plenty of ice about (and a little snow) during our visit yesterday!

Parasitic plant - Cistanche phelypaea

Parasitic plant - Cistanche phelypaea

Sierra de Gádor hosts a range of very interesting flora and fauna, so the fact that it does not have any kind of protection status is not understandable. Its main woodlands are made up of reafforestation carried out over the last third of the 20th century, though it is still possible to find wide areas of Holm Oak, and in the wettest areas, small forests of Acers and Portuguese Oak. On the summits, brooms are predominant. Of the rich and varied flora, plants endemic to this range, Coronopus navasii and Astragalus tremolsianus stand out.

Invertebrates are the most numerous group, butterflies standing out for their importance, this Sierra being listed as an area of special lepidopterological interest. The presence of more than 130 species of birds make it one of the best areas for ornithology in the province too. Among the mammals, the most significant presence is the mountain goat, coming from the nearby Sierra Nevada. Much more numerous is the wild boar that is found all over the territory.

To the north west of the Sierra de Gádor lies a series of small villages (pueblos), we had lunch in a beautiful venta in one such village and made our way then to Las Canales de Padules. Padules a beautiful town belonging to the Alto Andarax, located west of the province of Almería in a mainly agricultural area whose main wealth is in the cultivation of vineyards and olive. Still retains its urban harmony and traditional features, which gives an air of calm and tranquility, enhanced by the Church of Moorish style.

Las Canales de Padules

Las Canales de Padules

A little outside the pueblo of Padules is a network of waterways known as Las Canales de Padules. Water flows into this network through a natural gorge and is then re-directed by a series of man-made channels to where it is used for irrigation, etc. During the town’s many fiestas, it is common to see people bathing in the water and picnicking by the waterside. There is even an area adjacent to the water specifically assigned for setting up a make-shift bar!

In summary, it was an amazing day out full of learning and visiting the hidden gems of Almería i.e., the “real” Spain. The day was interspersed with playing the saxophone in various locations which at one point, attracted a pair of Golden Eagles! Unfortunately though it took too long to pack away may equipment and get the camera out to get some good photographs.

Watch this space for Oz Nature & Music!

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Oz nature
Facebook / YouTube / DepositPhoto

Photography Experiences in Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata

I don’t know how many people have read other pages on my blog, well actually I do because I can see my stats but anyway, just to point out for those unaware that I DO actually run photography experiences in Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata. The photography experiences on offer range from Basic Camera Techniques tutorials to a week-long combined all inclusive Photography and Nature Activity Week with many (bespoke) options in between.

Playa el Playazo

Playa el Playazo

Most visitors flock to the Cabo de Gata during the summer months and whilst there is much to see and do, there is an unequaled beauty at other times of the year which is well worth coming for. All the photography experiences on offer can be scheduled to suit your requirements and time constraints and I would love to show off the breath-taking colours, scenery and nature of Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata in spring, autumn and winter when together with the natural light, they are at their best. I don’t believe in setting dates for the experiences and expecting people to fall in with pre-determined plans, I’d rather work around you so that what I offer becomes a more enjoyable part of your holiday. Obviously when it comes to things like Full Moon Experiences, then we are held to a timetable.

What about the prices?

Well, very reasonable – prices start at €25 per person for a two hour Basic Camera Techniques experience around the beautiful town of San José. All prices are normally based on a minimum of four people. All experiences may also be tailored to accommodate couples looking for something a little bit different, in fact that tends to be what I do most of!

Almeria Crocus

Almeria Crocus

So, if you’d like to experience something so very special and see nature at its best, either as part of your existing holiday or even as a stand-alone reason to come to this area of outstanding beauty and / or perhaps you’d like to learn how to improve your camera technique, gain control and create the most amazing photographs that will far exceed your expectations, you need to hesitate no further and contact Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography without delay!

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Birdwatching Field Trip in Los Velez

. 02 . 2012

A friend of mine is organising this excellent good value event. Details as follows:



On Saturday 25 February, we will finally hold our birdwatching meeting in the Comaraca de los Vélez (Almería).

We will meet at the Cafetería del Hotel Velad al Abyadh (Vélez Blanco) at 09.00h.

To register, contact Jesus Contreras – For administrative reasons, registration is open until Thursday 23, at 20:00.

To view the field trip programme in English, please click here


El sábado día 25 de Febrero, celebraremos finalmente nuestro encuentro ornitológico en la comaraca de los Vélez (Almería).

Punto de encuentro en la Cafetería del Hotel Velad al Abyadh (Vélez Blanco) a las 09.00h.

Para inscripciones, contactar con Jesus Contreras en Por motivos organizativos, se limita la posibilidad de inscripción hasta el jueves 23, a las 20:00h.

Para ver el programa en castellano, pulse aqui

Lista de aves de Almeria / Almeria birds checklist

Price: for ANDALUCIA BIRD SOCIETY members it is free. For non members the price is €25. / Precio:  para SOCIEDAD ORNITOLÓGICA ANDALUZA miembros es gratis. Para no miembros el precio es €25.

Jesus Contreras
Field manager

Birdwatching  &  Wildlife Trips
Geography Field Trips , Time Tours & Field Locations

Almeria . Eastern Andalusia . Spain

Tlf: +34 626260641
e: /
Skype: jesus.contreras41

Introduction to Oz Nature

Part of my philosophy (and genetic makeup I guess) is the idea of the collaboration. Life is hard enough sometimes and when you’re trying your best to do something original and show the world, support from others AND more importantly, supporting others who are striving to do similar is paramount.  Since I have been living in Spain, I have met so many wonderful people who genuinely want to enrich our lives and show us how beautiful the world is, especially this part of the world.

I would like now to introduce you all to a very good friend of mine, Jesus Contreras Torres. Jesus is passionate about nature and the environment in and around the province of Almeria (and generally). I have been out with him a number of times and without fail, I have been in awe of our time together – even simply just having a beer!

Jesus founded a small company called Oz Nature and is located in the Almeria province of Spain. Now in their second year (February), the main activity of Oz Nature is about attending people visiting Almeria province looking for landscape, geology, nature, geography and birds. Also they work on educational projects with local schools offering children the possibility of meeting responsibly with their own environment further than in a simple trip outside the classroom.

The Oz Nature fauna and flora trips and birdwatching guided tours are not to be missed and having been on a few, I can highly recommend them – especially his trips into the Tabernas desert!

Please visit Jesus’ website to learn more – You may also read a nice interview with Jesus on this blog – click here to read.

I am looking forward to the opportunity of working with Oz Nature in the future, we are always thinking of new ideas about how to show you our very special corner of the world. We both look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to Almeria.

Contact details:

Martyn Thompson – Landscape Photography
Facebook / Twitter / Etsy / Flickr

Oz nature
Facebook / YouTube / DepositPhoto