What you have seen

This is YOUR page, dedicated to what Malaga wildlife, or wild nature, you’ve caught on camera. Thank you for sharing it with us!

August 2016

Brilliant shot by Margot Hillock who said

Margot's friendly spider
Margot’s friendly spider

“Spotted this big boy (I reckon about 8cm from leg tip to leg tip) the other night and retreated to a good distance to take the picture! It might have only seven legs right now, but that is one mega-sized spider! I had no idea what it was, so I asked Grasshopper”

Wolf spider
Wolf spider

My first off-the-cuff guess was Brown Recluse but Margot came back with Wolf Spider. Wonderful creatures, Wolf Spiders but Hogna radiata, the commonest here, has a very distinctive spokes pattern on its back and relatively short legs (you may not agree). It couldn’t be that but it wasn’t until after a mutual friend had given a suggestion that I got on back on the case and concurred: a Huntsman, Eusparassus dufouri.

Huntsman, like Wolf Spiders do not make webs. As you would expect, they hunt. They take prey by surprise, being very fast, and often springing out unexpectedly. (I do not think I am making Margot feel better, here). Like the Wolf Spiders they are hairy and are sometimes confused with tarantulas but while Wolfs have (relatively) shorter legs, Huntsman have legs twisted sideways, giving them their other name of Giant Crab Spider. They can walk on walls and even ceilings in spite of their size. According to wikipedia they “exhibit a “cling” reflex if picked up, making them difficult to shake off and much more likely to bite. They will generally make a threat display if provoked, and if the warning is ignored they may attack and bite. (Still not very good for Margot). However, they are not considered dangerous to humans and are unlikely to bite unless provoked or threatened.

I told Margot this and she said:

“Thanks, Grasshopper! No sign of it yet, but… I’ll keep you informed! I can certainly confirm its speed, despite being a leg down. Not anxious to test the “cling reflex” as you correctly suspect, but might need to start checking behind pictures and under furniture with a view to re-homing Mr Speedy.”

I hope if she does find him she’ll let me come and see before he is evicted!

 

July 2016

No questions about what this creature is: the indigenous but rare European Chameleon. My friend Ricardo saw it and sent me these photos. This is what it looked like in-situ:

Chameleon in a Kumquat tree
Chameleon in a Kumquat tree

Can you see it? Probably not. Here’s the zoomed in version:

Chameleon close up
Chameleon close up

If this is still a puzzle look up from the middle of the bottom of the photo; just past the first dazzled out leaf is the Chameleon’s head. The black dot on the left is her right eye pointed straight up to watch the camera; her left eye is pointing out sideways so you can only make out it’s supporting pyramid. Going further up there is a strip of sunlight then the curve of her back, but her prehensile tail is out of view.

Master of Camoflage
Master of Camoflage. Gracias a Ricardo para todas estas fotos maravillosas!

And if you want to see her in profile, she did a touch more out into the open:

Isn’t she fantastic? Thanks Ricardo!

Read more about camoflage on Now you see me?

 

 

June 2016

Clara Verheij of Bodegas Bentomiz passed me these pictures of a Woodchat Shrike that had been stunned on flying into the winery’s window:

20160619_photo Clara Verheij

The bird upset the resident Crag Martins – read about what happened here:

The Crash

 

April 2016

04_hole in the bankI had seen a rather dull, very neat hole in a bank above Canillas de Albaida. I thought, randomly, of Chameleons but that doesn’t fit – they prefer cover and are usually laying eggs much later in the summer. It was about the right size though, about 2 cm across. Then Jill S sent me this. Same type of hole, but someone is home…

04.2016, Jill S, near Canillas

 

 

19.04.16  Jill S. also sent me this photo and message:

squashed by accident on the roof. About 3 cm long. I don't intentionally 
step on things that big. hope you can see it.

Red Palm Weevil (Jill S)

What beetle?
What beetle?

 

 

 

 

 

Red Palm Weevil (wikipedia)
Red Palm Weevil (wikipedia)

This is the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. It is an invasive species from tropical Asia. It lays eggs in the crown of palm trees; the larvae then eat such chunks from the heart of the plant that they kill it in the process. Palm weevils can devastate plantations (think oil, coconut or date palm), not to mention Malaga’s beautiful decorative palms. The councils here chemically burn infested trees  – if you see sad old stumps of palm trees with a burnt looking top, that is why. There is a house near Canillas that’s called “Casa La Palmera” with just such a blasted tree outside. I think the weevils are rather handsome bugs myself – yours was quite small as they can get to 5 or 6 cm – but given their pest status and invasive nature, I wouldn’t feel too bad about squashing one!

 

08.04.2016  After I had boasted about my bug knowledge Nikki sent me this to i.d.  “Morning, I have a beetle ID test for you! Do you have any idea what this one may be? Since we brought in an old beam from the campo, which is now a bench out back, we’ve been finding quite a few…. “

Chafer beetle
Chafer beetle

This is a Chafer beetle and, though the grubs’ fondness for grass-roots annoys some people, they do not bore wood – that must have been something else. Summer chafers (Amphimallon soltitialis) emerge from pupation when it is warm, above 19 degrees – June in the UK (hence the name) – so it is a bit early: perhaps their pupae were in that wood and the heat of the house lead to an early awakening!

UPDATE I had a doubt about this one and consulted the Natural History Museum (back in blighty) to be sure. My doubt was confirmed: they said

“Amphimallon should have quite long hairs on the thorax, but we can’t see any on this one. Possibly Rhizotrogus aestivus”

On looking up Rhizotrogus aestivus I found what seems to be the Spanish name for this chafer (though common names are highly variable): “Escarabo de San Juan”. There you go Nikki: it was always a chafer but we’ve got a species & common name in the end!

 

22.03.2016   From Jos  – a donkey (and a horse behind) loose on the track. I don’t see many donkeys around here but they must be kept as there are always plenty of mules. Thanks, Jos!

Burro
Burro

 

02.03.2016  David CJ: “I took this picture on a path between Canillas de Albaida and Competa a couple of years ago. It stayed overhead and sang and sang. Do you know what it is?”

Bird on the goat pathYes. It looks like a Serin (Serinus serinus), Europe’s smallest finch. Some of the population stay here all year but I mostly see them from spring through to autumn in twittering crowds. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, David.

 

Send your pictures as low res jpegs please to grasshopper@wilding.com, stating where you saw it, when and what it is (if you know). Always happy to hear your wildlife stories!