A bit about me
Noticing and learning about the natural world around me has been essential to me since I was very young and wherever I am I am curious about what shares my space, or rather whose space I am sharing. A life-long amateur naturalist, a compulsive writer and photographer who loves to acquire knowledge and share information. I have an insatiable curiosity. Practically everything in the natural world fascinates me and I believe is worth notice. To me there is no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ garden bird or a weed and I wouldn’t dream of purposely squashing an insect or a spider, often much to most people’s horror, I have to say.
About the blog
I was privileged to live in Andalucia in the far South of Spain for almost 11 years, from the summer of 2002 to the end of 2011. The first two years were spent living on a hillside near Estepona in Malaga Province with a glorious cultivated garden, and even better for me a ‘wild garden’, an area left in its original state with indigenous vegetation that was visited by all manner of birds and insects. Following that we moved further along the coast to Sotogrande where there are a diversity of habitats to wander in Cadíz province.
From the day I knew we would be moving there from South Wales, I began to research as much as I could about the wildlife I hoped to encounter, but there’s just such an abundance of flora and fauna and such a diverse variety of habitats to support it, I realised quickly I would have to wait and learn ‘in situ’.
At first I struggled to identify much of what I encountered there. There are some excellent identification books out there, but they tend to cover more of the Mediterranean area than the area I was interested in. I took photographs of anything and everything that attracted my attention, but of course back in the early days images were recorded on film that had then to be developed and printed: expensive and with no guarantee that I’d got a good enough image to pick out its finer details! At times I got frustrated, frequently confusing species of both flora and fauna: I’d think I’d got them, then find out they only occur in Corsica or Turkey! But over time and through hours spent blissfully wandering around my local areas I began to recognise the more common and regularly-occurring wildlife. I kept some fairly detailed journals too and as my confidence grew and with the advent of the wonderful digital image, I started this blog. Here I had a place to record my ‘finds’ which I could both use as a reference for myself and share with others on similar journeys of discovery.
The blog name
We moved to our home in Sotogrande in the winter of 2004 and the following Spring I began to hear a bird singing from the Cork Oak trees just a few metres away from our terrace. I was entranced, but having never heard it before and as it stayed well hidden from view, I had no idea what it was. Soon afterwards, while out walking with some friends we heard a similar song and being expert ‘birders’ they immediately called ‘Nightingale’. I was delighted, as I had never heard one before and suddenly felt very privileged to have my own personal serenader so close to home. Once recognising the song I began to hear it frequently and in many of the places we walk, so Nightingale Trails seemed appropriate although I am claiming a little ‘poetic licence’, as the birds are actually only here to breed from the end of March/April till June.
Ongoing aims for the blog
Sad to leave Spain, I decided to carry on with the blog to maintain a link with this amazing country that still holds a piece of my heart. Besides which, I have hundreds of photographs and several years worth of journals to refer back to and what better way to keep the connection alive than to share them here?
I would also like to present a different view of this particular part of Spain – it is truly beautiful and relatively unspoiled. Cadíz province alone is a vast and diverse area and information on where to go to see what you’re interested in is limited, particularly if your Spanish is equally limited! For that reason I’d like to present anyone who visits, or intends to visit with some ideas about where to go to explore the wilder parts of the Cadíz area, and the best time to visit and what they might see, based on visits I’ve made myself.