The wonderful Iberian Azure-winged Magpies Cyanopica cooki are now busy getting around in gangs of youths and adults, making their presence felt with their raucous cries. They are a species of open, savannah-type woodland and their native habitat in Iberia is the Stone Pine Pinus pinea woodland.
For some time we hadn't realised the importance of these pine woods and many thought that they were largely introduced. True, many coastal pine woods have been planted but we know that they have been there for millennia. In our excavations at Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar we have found charcoal remains of Neanderthal camp fires. The charcoal belonged to the Stone Pine and we have found such remains in all the archaeological levels, the oldest being around 50 thousand years old. So coastal Stone Pine woods, in warm climate and sandy soils, have been around for a long time creating spectacular Mediterranean savannah landscapes.