Category Archives: Nature

Fifty Shades of White #8

White vinca, growing wild and clambering up the hillside. February 11, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
White vinca, growing wild & flowering #Gardening #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2c2

Bird song: Nightjar

I know someone who once saw a Nightjar in Spain at dusk in the summer.

[photo: Mull Birds & Jim Bevan]

I have never seen one, but I have heard them sing. Such a strange, haunting song ‘churr-churr’ which can vary from a soft purr to a harder wooden rattle. It flies at dusk and dawn, on the hunt for moths and insects, with its mouth wide open.

Actually, I may have seen a Nightjar but thought it was a Cuckoo or Kestrel. It is similar-sized and shaped, with pointed wings and a long tail. All sorts of ancient myths exist about Nightjars, principally that they steal milk from goats. The latter belief led to the Nightjar’s nickname ‘goatsucker’.

Listen to the Nightjar’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
tal vez lo he visto – I may have seen
de tamaño semejante – similar-sized
de forma semejante – similar-shaped
último – latter
la creencia – the belief

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Red-Legged Partridge
Wren
Woodpigeon

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Nightjar? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aI

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Fifty Shades of Gold #41

Giant seedhead of the century plant. July 1, 2014

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Giant seedhead of the century plant #Countryside in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bX

The javelina, or is it?

The name of this orphan has caused some confusion. Our neighbour Pablo, whose son stumbled on the baby during a hunting trip in the hills, calls it a javelina. In fact javelina is another name for a peccary, a medium-sized hooved animal, part of the pig family. But the new occupant of the vacant hen house looks more to me as if it is a wild boar piglet, the clue being its distinctive stripes which have faded over the last two to three weeks as it has grown.

I suspect the confusion has arisen because the peccary/javelina is often kept as a pet or raised on farms as a source of food. Needless to say, Pablo had his family have no plans to eat their javelina which at the first opportunity is out of his pen and into the house. Cheeky and curious, when missing he is apparently found most often underneath the bed. No word on their plans for him when he is older!

5 to remember
un huérfano – an orphan
la confusion – the confusion
talla media – medium-sized
enganchado – hooved
distintivo – distinctive


Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The javelina: an orphan, now a cheeky addition to ‘la granja’ #nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2nx via @Spanish_Valley  

Bird song: Goshawk

The Goshawk is a large hawk which can reach the size of a Buzzard. Up close – I’m taking the word of the RSPB here – it is intimidating with a fierce expression, bright red eyes and white eyebrow. It catches its prey in flight and hunts at speed, its broad wings allowing it to manoeuvre between trees. It can catch anything from Thrush-sized birds to Crows, gamebirds and other birds of prey, though it also eats rabbits. Usually it eats its prey where it catches it, or takes it to a regular perch.

Its song can be confused with that of a Woodpecker, though the Goshawk only sings during courtship and the nesting season. It makes a nasal ‘gek-gek-gek’ and ‘pi-aah’.

Listen to the Goshawk sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el azor – the goshawk
una canción – a song
se puede confundir con – can be confused with
una ardilla – a squirrel
nasal – gangoso

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cetti’s Warbler
Crested Lark
Greenfinch

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you know how the Goshawk sings? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aC

Fifty Shades of Blue #28

The gentle lilac blue flower of the sage plant. April 20, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The gentle lilac blue flower of the sage plant #Gardening in #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bT

Lizard versus Cricket

I don’t often have the opportunity to take live action photographs, so I was chuffed with this series of wild nature in action on our terrace. The cricket put up quite a fight with a couple of big jumps but the lizard anticipated where he would land and was there waiting.

I’m no wildlife expert but I think the lizard is a Large Psammodromus because of his long tail and the two long white stripes along his flanks. The male has a blue spot on its shoulder and this one doesn’t, so I’m guessing it’s a she. Very strong with a thicker head than our usual Iberian Wall Lizards and without the vertebral stripes on the tail. The cricket is more difficult to identify as there are 40 types of cricket. Most are dark brown, this one is creamy grey. I’m guessing it is a King Cricket. How do I know it’s a cricket and not a grasshopper? Because crickets have long antennae, while grasshoppers have short.

5 to remember
la oportunidad– the opportunity
un lagarto– a lizard
un grillo– a cricket
un saltamontes– a grasshopper
las antenas– the antennae

 

Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lizard versus Cricket #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2vW via @Spanish_Valley