Cork Oak Savanna near Portel

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This was a lovely open patch of Cork Oak savanna on our first venture into Alentejo, the ‘wild outback’ of Portugal.  I felt such a relief as the landscape changed, becoming more arid and filled with fantastic trees the further East we drove from Lisbon.  The Cork Oaks seem to grow in obvious patches, especially where the ground seems raised and more rocky, a broken terrain.  Heaven for birds of prey and other wildlife and we met our first Iberian magpies not far from this site.  While I sketched, Mandy enjoyed the Hoepoes and larks foraging and singing nearby.  Natural habitats such as these sound different from the more man-made landscapes further north.  They are alive.  Not just birds but botanically rich too.  It may look like bare ground under the trees but as many as 135 species of vascular plants have been recorded in one small patch (about 30 x 30m) in a study area of Cork Oak woodland in Andalucia which is one of the highest known plant diversities in the world at this small scale.  So it is fortunate that much of these woodlands are protected in Spain and in Portugal either by EU, the State or the landowners who rely on their produce.  Even when their bark is harvested as cork, these trees are beautiful with their bright red tree trunks.



Additional information

Weight0.05 kg
Dimensions42 × 14.8 cm

Fine Art Print, Original Artwork

Rob Davies

Rob studied art at school to A level and has kept the interest in painting going alongside a career in biology and conservation.  Although he prefers to sketch and paint from life in the field, Rob has been commissioned to do exact bird illustrations for various publications including journals, a monograph on the Black Eagle and a field guide to African birds of prey.

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