Rivers and Waters
In the area you are crossing for the most part there is one dry river bed, although at Fájara two ravines coincide, those of Tajos Lisos and to the west, Cueva de Don Pedro. This is an excellent place for exploring caves as there is an appealing cave shelter called La Cueva de las Cabras, and then the Fájara area´s own cave; Cueva de la Fájara. This cave is very close to the previous one, down amongst the Oleanders. The galleries of the latter are 1.500 metres long. In the lower galleries there are three siphons from which the water escapes when the water table rises and the aquifer is at its highest, to the point that water starts flowing from the cave’s entrance.
In addition to the two caves, the third noteworthy element is the the Nacimiento del Río Bermuza river source located a few metres below where you’ll cross the river, overgrown with brambles and Oleanders. It´s only been partially explored as it is a totally fl ooded siphon. The water is regulated right at the source by an “acequía”, a water channel, which starts here.
The Alcaucín River comes from a spectacular area to the west of the Sierra Tejeda, the Barranco del Alcázar ravine, and fl ows between olive groves. It has interesting riparian vegetation, principally Willows and Oleanders, and it has enabled the development of subtropical crops along its banks. The next watercourse of importance is the Río Seco, formed by the streams of Los Migueles and Los Blancares just before the ford with a concrete base. Here the riverbank vegetation is quite altered by some eucalyptus trees which serve the purpose of stabilizing the soil, but there are still some ash trees, tamarisks and reeds.
Stage 8 leads through the mountains; in its first section, there are formations of Aleppo pine and rocky cliffs, as well as arable land mostly devoted to cultivating olive trees. The olive groves are mostly young, with a few areas were hundred-year-old specimens are predominant. The walk also passes through some uncultivated areas mainly containing retama broom. This is why during Stage 8 you will principally find birds typical of open spaces and crop fields, with some forest species.
In Canillas, as in villages in previous stages of the walk, you will be able to see bird species accustomed to living close to humans. Barn Swallow, Spotless Starling and House Sparrow are the most common species at the beginning of Stage 8 which soon enters a pine wood. Once surrounded by trees you can find Common Wood Pigeon, European Turtle Dove, Common Blackbird, Common Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper and Common Chaffinch. Around the Fájara cave the Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting at the streambed the Blackcap and other typically riverside species such as Wren, European Robin and Golden Oriole.
Before arriving at Alcaucín you will be passing through uncultivated areas and vineyards where Crested Lark occurs, with the typical crest on its head and its cheerful song.
Also, there is the Common Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Greenfinch and Serin. From Alcaucín onwards you will start walking downhill towards cultivated land, mainly olive groves and subtropical tree plantations, peppered with a few houses.
Here the predominant birds are Eurasian Collared Dove and Starling, also Barn Swallow European Robin, Black Redstart, Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Goldfinch.
Next, cross the stream and start climbing towards the view of the reservoir called Pantano de la Viñuela, where you can enjoy the view of the Boquete de Zafarraya and La Mesa de Zalia, full of large rock faces inhabited by rock-dwelling raptors visible from the path of Stage 8.
Once you come into the olive groves interspersed with the patchwork of grain fields, the Crested Lark again becomes the star species. In the next section you may see Short-toed and Booted eagles which tend to use this part of Stage 8 as hunting grounds, Bonelli´s Eagle, Common Kestrel, Little Owl, Red-legged Partridge, Common, Pallid and Alpine Swifts, Common Wood Pigeon, European Turtle Dove, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Mistle and Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrike, and many species of finches.
The area around Arroyo Seco is a good spot to devote some time to identifying Swallows, as in spring and summer it is possible to find up to 4 species at the same time (Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag and House Martin) Additionally to the previously mentioned species of birds, the type of vegetation encourages the presence of Blackcap and Black-eared Wheatear.
It is worth mentioning the presence of olive trees with very thick trunks before you arrive at Periana where amongst the Great Tits and Chaffinches you may be able to spot the rare Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, however it is a bird which is difficult to see.