If you do some of the local walks you will be rewarded with a great variety of flowers and bird life, as well as native and cultivated trees and even perhaps the odd encounter with a fox (Zorro), Wild boar ( jabalí), Ibex, Iberian Red Squirrels, etc.
The Guadalest valley is returning to it's wild state, with trees now protected and many of the terraces from the early part of the last century now abandoned. There are large areas of hillside that are now inaccessible and undisturbed, thus making it an ideal haven for wildlife.
Spain has more varieties of wildlife than any other country in Europe. It is home to some of the rarest species on the planet such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Iberian Lynx. Wolves can still be found in parts of Spain, their numbers are growing but they are very unlikely to disturb your Spanish idyll.
Spain is a bird lover's dream with 70% of Europe's bird species either visiting or breeding in Spain. Rare birds of prey such as the black vulture and Eleonora's falcon can be seen if you get lucky. 25 different bat species inhabit mainland Spain and the countryside abounds with butterflies of many colours and varieties.
One lady in the village described to us how early one morning a wild boar (JabalÍs) crossed the road as she drove out the village, followed by another, then another, and eventually she counted 17! Wild boar are common in Spain but dangerous only if cornered with young and/or injured, something which is only likely to happen in a hunting scenario. Chance encounters are unusual as boars are extremely wary of humans, and they almost inevitably result in a fleeing wild boar. You will see area where they have turned over the ground, and also may see their footprints in dried up mud hollows.
You may well also see rabbits, hares and foxes.
We have seen foxes (zorro) late at night driving back to the village. As in other countries rabbits were devastated by the mixamatosis outbreak 20 years ago - part of the reason for the decline in the Iberian Lynx. A few years ago 20 foxes were released at various points in the valley to restore the balance of predetors. Take a late night walk and you may be lucky enough to see a genet - a beautiful nocturnal animal with a large bushy tail
The local mountains and coast provide great opportunities for birding, recently we sat down for a picnic on Sierra Serrella and watched a pair of golden eagles for several minutes on a rocky spur no more than 100 metres away! You will also see many swallows, and house martins and other birds such as the rufus bush robin within the village - in spring the dawn chorus is a joy to behold. We've seen hoopoe, golden eagles, swifts, bee eaters, rollers and many more. REcently we have seen many vultures in the area, and a colony seems to be setting up above Confrides. Bonelli's Eagle is making a return to the area and Alcoy has a large vulture colony at the Baranc de Cint!
Among the most interesting species that you can find the wetlands along the coast are the Marbled Teal, White-headed Duck, Greater Flamingo, Red-crested Pochard, Purple Swamp-Hen, Moustached Warbler, Bearded Tit, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, ... the last two are spring / summer visitors. The teal and the duck are the most representative species.
Reptiles like sun, dry conditions and plenty of hiding spaces, so Spain is much to their liking. Here are some you may see. Two widespread gecko species for example, frequent rock walls and houses in cities and country. The Moorish gecko is very widespread. The Turkish gecko is slightly smaller than the Moorish Gecko and found along coastal regions. These insect hunters frequent bug-attracting lights and are a familiar summer sight. Geckos can climb even the most slippery surface with ease and hang from glass using a single toe. The secret behind this extraordinary climbing skill lies with millions of tiny keratin hairs - called setae - on the surface of each foot. An intermolecular phenomenon known as van der Waals force is exerted by each of these hairs. Although the force is individually miniscule, the millions of hairs collectively produce a powerful adhesive effect.
In many years of vists to the area we've never experienced anything other than the odd Mosquito bite - however it is useful to be aware of some on the more unfriendly insects (most of which you won't see)- so here we go!
We spotted this praying mantis on the Serella ridges. They do not bite humans, or spread disease. However, when handled, their spiny-like forelegs can be readily felt as a "sharp pinch." Mantids are most commonly seen in late September and early October either resting on plants or "fluttering" through the air, sometimes mistaken for a hummingbird. Some appear to resemble leaves or flowers in shape and color. This picture is a male - the female is larger and brown in colour.
Snakes are quite widespread in Spain, but you are probably unlikely to see one as they stay well away from humans, we have seen very few and they will flee as soon as they are aware of you. Many are flattened on the roads but they are a good indicator of a healthy and diverse countryside. All snakes are legally protected and beneficial to man (they consume large quantities of rodents and other agricultural pests). The only snakes of any danger to humans or pets are vipers which have a painful venom, although hardly ever fatal to humans. Vipers are smallish snakes with a patchy distribution in Spain. Even where common they are difficult to come across as they are shy and retiring. Of the estimated 50 snakebite deaths a year in Europe, only 3-6 occur in Spain, so don't worry too much. More people die from bee and wasp stings.
Spain has often been criticised for its uncaring attitutude to animals, but incidences of cruelty and neglect are not confined to these shores: sadly, they exist throughout the world, often in circuses, animal shows and private collections where wild creatures are treated as nothing more than money making opportunities.
One man's love for such abandoned and mistreated animals has been a source of inspiration and hope throughout the Costa Blanca region of Spain. He is aptly named Serafín, and it was his dedication and determination which created El Arca Animal Sanctuary, which can be found 300 metres along the main road exiting Guadalest.