Walking the Sierra Espuña.

The Sierra Espuña is a mountain range located in the south-east of Spain, not directly at the coast so in winter it can be a little cold. In the early days, snow was stored here to become ice in winter that subsequently was used in surrounding cities like Murcia. Fortunately for us today it was not freezing!RikenMon Sierra Espuna 1P1100114

We set up camp in El Berro, a small town in the north-east corner of the park. Here we find some bars, restaurants and the starting point of 2 hikes. The first night we cook our dinner outside, but this is a mistake, it becomes too cold pretty soon, so we spend the remainder of the evening in our van. The following days we use the town restaurants which offer affordable food, beer, wine and comfort.

RikenMon Sierra Espuna 2PC160922RikenMon Sierra Espuna 3PC160925

1) Sierra Espuna, 2) the campsite in El Berro.

Our first day we delay our walk, so the hunting time (up to 14:00) is over. However, we did not hear shots at all so maybe in this park hunting is not allowed. Now we opt for the smaller trail of about 8 km in the direction of Gebas.

RikenMon Sierra Espuna 3PC170927RikenMon Sierra Espuna 4PC170931RikenMon Sierra Espuna 5PC170933

The route, signed with white-yellow markings starts directly outside the campsite. In no time we enter the forest up to the mountain, almost the entire track is off-road. Just before Gebas, the path becomes a sort of ditch, the sides 2-4 meter height and width of 6 meter. This particular pathway ends in a small tunnel close to Gebas. We decide not to go to this town but to continue on our way back, unfortunately again without sun that has just set behind the ridge. Probably this is fortunate if you do this walk in summer when temperatures here are much higher! It is getting late now, so we walk fast missing some wildlife, but we did hear and see the wallcreeper fleeing with its red wings.

RikenMon Sierra Espuna 6P1100117RikenMon Sierra Espuna 7PC180943RikenMon Sierra Espuna 8PC180939

1) There is the campsite, 2,3) Looks like mistletoe, but it is pine.

The second walk is in the opposite direction. We now leave a little earlier, and the first part is on tarmac uphill. The sun is shining so soon enough we take some clothes off. After a while we enter the forest, the trail flattens, and it is getting cooler again. A varied scenery brings our first wildlife; some Moeflons quickly disappear after spotting us. This trail crosses several other hiking trails, so a little more attention is needed to find our way. We walk a small trail, seeing the road across the valley, how to get there? Fortunately, the trail ends on a footpath and then we are OK finding a refuge.

RikenMon Sierra Espuna 9P1100121RikenMon Sierra Espuna 10PC180947RikenMon Sierra Espuna 11PC180948RikenMon Sierra Espuna 12PC180959

 We spotted a small Schreibers' long-fingered bat in a cave.

Again we find ourselves on the tarmac where a few cars pass. Alongside the road we notice some caves to be exploited and, quickly we are in the dark. The temperature rises when we go deeper into the cave, and a careful inspection of the ceiling reveals a small batt. Just One that is awakened by us but not enough to flee the scene. A bit scary being without light so, we exit quickly again!

RikenMon Sierra Espuna 13PC180954RikenMon Sierra Espuna 14PC180956RikenMon Sierra Espuna 15PC180961

1,2) the abandoned Sanatorium, 3) Walking down in the small valley.

Like the previous walk, we did not see anyone else during the walk, very unusual and unique. Halfway there is an abandoned Sanatorium (treating TBC patients), unfortunately, fenced so we can not peep inside. On we go into a valley downwards till we suddenly exit very close to the campsite. This time we are early enough to catch the last sunshine before going to the restaurant. There are several other trails to walk in this vast reserve, but we decide to go back to the beach where temperatures are a bit more camping orientated. A place to revisit another warmer day!

RikenMon Sierra Espuna Arbutus unedo 16PC180963RikenMon Sierra Espuna 17PC180980RikenMon Sierra Espuna 18PC190986

1) Strawberry tree. 2) Bees on the watertube, 3) The mandarins are ready to eat.

App update now 800 animals!

The latest version of RikenMon's nature-guide is now available!

Location filter birds:

In our January update, we introduced the location filter on Mammals and Reptile-Amphibian categories. We created a European distribution map for each animal in this group.

Moreover, you can use these maps to find animals in a particular area automatically. Some animals are limited to a zone, and if you are not there chances are slim you will see it. With our filter, you will only see what can be expected in your area.


Filter Android Filter AndroidENFilter iPhoneENFilter iPhone

This filter turned out to be very handy, so we made it for birds as well.

The last two categories (butterflies and bugs) will follow. So how reliable is our filter? We gathered our information from several sources that sometimes were contradicting but, we think it is a valuable addition to our search options.

RikenMon's Natuur-Guide, Redshank, Tringa totanus  P1020794

The Redshank can be found almost everywhere except in north east Europe.

800 European animals:

The latest update contains new animals giving a total of 800 in Europe, and we are not stopping yet!

With this recent update, the complete dBase is installed automatically. Please do remember to download the photos to your phone if you want to use it offline!


Bug, SD card selection Android:

Bug, SD card selection Android:

If desired and possible you can select an SD card to store your photos, this can be done in the main menu, settings, storage location. This choice should be made before downloading photos. (To switch to SD card just delete the photos on your internal memory, select SD card and reload the photos to SD card.)

Sometimes after a software update, the storage location is reverted to internal, check this before you start your download.

The latest software (2.51) has solved this glitch, and your choice of storage location will remain from now on.


RikenMon's Natuurg-Guide, Black tailed skimmer,, Orthetrum cancellatum P9095851

The 'bug' in the storage location is deleted, this bug will naturally stay!

50 Red crosbills!

While walking in the woods of Gees (Drenthe, the Netherlands), to our surprise we noticed several groups of crossbills flying between firs and oak over our heads.

RikenMon's Natureguide Red crossbill Loxia curvirostra P1090993

Red crossbill males are orange-red with some gray stripes on the chest.

Crossbills have a crossed tip at their thick bill enabling them to get seeds out of cones. Thes smart birds breed early in the season because in winter thick fir cones provide plenty of food. And if they run out of fir cones they move on to pine cones.

RikenMon's Nature Guide crossbills Loxia curvirostra P9025692

Several crossbills between the branches, up high the colors are not very clear.

Apart from the bill, they are very colorful birds. Unfortunate up in the tree the colors disappear and turn to grayish like so many other birds. However close inspection learns they are red-orange and bright yellow.

RikenMon's Nature-Guide crossbill Loxia curvirostra P1090995

This young male becomes red already (unfortunately the crossed bill tip just behind a branch )

The arrival of a dog pack meant they moved out of our vision, but they were still noisy for a while. For us, it was our first encounter, but in the Netherlands, they are doing fine in the local fir and pine forests.