The rivers are a place of abundance in any ecology and particularly so in the drier places of the world.
The Almodovar is no exception to this and forms a limpid cool green sanctuary away from the intensity of the Andalucian summer sun.
The birds songs here are rich and many formed and provide a multi layered musicality to the soundscape of the river bank.
Each of these calls, songs and alarms carries a meaning to their neighbours and to the wider inhabitants of this fluvial forest.
If we can but sit and listen, they are telling the story of the riverbank. The melodic songs and soft companion calls say that all is well, there is no danger, so the birds feed, announce their territories and rejoice in their avian being.
Then, at the far edge of my hearing, there is a faint alarm call from a blackbird and one by one this triggers other birds as this wave of alarm ripples along the river at great speed.
I notice birds dropping from the branches like feathered rain as they desperately seek the cover of the dense vines and brambles.
Suddenly from around the meandering bend appears the source of all this commotion.
A magnificent sparrowhawk is cutting the air scimitar like as it dodges around trees and flies through tiny gaps under the canopy. This incredible gymnast of the air opens its wings forwards in an abrupt stall and lands upon the fallen tree to my left.
The bird of prey stares around with the almost unbearable intensity of the hawks, its eyes drilling through the vegetation willing the small passerines into panicked flight.
For this is the way of the ambush hunter, the fear of its presence passes before it like a presage of doom and in the wake of this terror the small birds sometimes fly straight into the waiting aerial talons.
However this time, as its piercing gaze alights upon my presence here, it lets out a shriek and erupts from the branch like an arrow taking flight, it rounds me and continues on its hunt along the river.
As it passes the silence is almost palpable. The birds ancient instincts are telling them to remain still and quiet, so they sit cowed and trembling awaiting the sound of the first tentative song. Then, one by one, they will resume their avian activities and the soundscape of the river will be restored to its full choral magnificence.
These tales of the riverbank are as rich as any Norse saga and all that is required of us to become participant, is to sit and to listen and then the drama will unfold around us with a vibrancy that can take the breath away.
Photo: Sparrowhawk along the Alomodvar. Courtesy of the author.