Category Archives: Nature

Fifty Shades of Green #22

Baby almonds, furry green nuggets. May 8, 2014

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Baby almonds, furry green nuggets #garden #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley

Beautiful moth

Moths are almost impossible to identify but I was lucky with this lichen-like one. Discovered hiding behind the cushion on our outdoor sofa, he is beautifully-marked like an old-fashioned lace doily in shades of cream, coffee, earth and pewter with minute specks of gold.

I’m pretty sure it is a small ranunculus, mamestra dysodea, with a 30mm wingspan.

5 to remember
casi imposible – almost impossible
identificar – to identify
bellamente marcado – beautifully-marked
el peltre – the pewter
minúsculo – minute/tiny


Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife [UK: Collins]

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In shades of cream, coffee, earth & pewter with minute specks of gold #moths & #butterflies in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley  

A tiny moth

This moth may be tiny, about the size of my thumbnail, but he was not deterred by my presence as I pottered around in the kitchen. He sat on the kitchen window and didn’t flinch as I raised the external blinds, did the washing up and boiled the kettle for tea. I searched through both my butterfly books but finished without an answer to his identity. His stripes ran the gamut of mushroom colourings, from dark brown to chestnut and pale milk.

I hoped that, because of his clear markings, he would be simple to identify. I was wrong. If you recognize him, please let me know. When I returned five minutes later, he had vanished.

5 to remember
mi presencia– my presence
las persianas externas– the external blinds
la gama de– the gamut of
un champiñón – a mushroom
él había desaparecido – he had vanished


‘Butterflies and Moths: a Pocket Guide’ [UK: Dorling Kindersley]

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A tiny moth #Insects & #moths in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley 



Bird song: Barn Owl

If you see an owl, it is most likely a Barn Owl. It is sometimes about by day in winter, and in summer can often be seen hunting before dark – lots of hungry mouths to feed means the parents cannot be exclusively nocturnal. It is a medium-sized with a wingspan just under 1m and has a large head, but the easiest way to identify it is by its white underside and underwings.

There is no fluting song from this owl. It does not hoot [that’s the Tawny]. You may hear hissing and snoring from its nest, or a shrill or high squeak of alarm or when courting. Adults and juveniles will hiss like a snake to scare intruders. It nests in big holes, for example in a tree, a stack of bales or a building.

Listen to the Barn Owl’s shriek at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
si tú ves  – if you see
una lechuza comun – a Barn Owl
nocturno – nocturnal
una envergadura – a wingspan
identificar – to identify

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-


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

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How does the Barn Owl shriek? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of White #7

A sunset in March: white clouds, pink edges. March 19, 2016

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A sunset in March: white clouds, pink edges #Spain via @Spanish_Valley

An hour in the life of a baby snake

Most of the afternoon, we didn’t spot the guest lounging beside the swimming pool. A baby Montpellier snake – identified by his spotted skin, which will become fairly uniform as he matures – lying almost entirely hidden by the long thin shadow of the pool railing. Thin, thinner than the size of my little finger, he was about a foot long, curled up around himself in S’s. Then he awoke and stretched, his head nudging into the strong March afternoon sun. About 24°C.

And then he spotted us, or felt the vibration of our footsteps, and he made a break for it. Dropping into the water, at first he swam along the edge. But with each attempt to climb out, wriggling the front half of his body to dry land, he failed to get his tail out of the water. And so he swam out into the deep water. A quick and efficient swimmer, next he swam to the steps where he stuck his head about the surface and gulped air before heading off again. 

By now, we feared he was stuck. And so we intervened with the pool net. We left him to dry in the sun. When we returned thirty minutes later, he was gone.

[photo: Wikipedia]

We know there must be snakes around us in the countryside but rarely see them, except for dead snakeskins. The adult Montpellier snake [above] grows up to 2m long, is active during the day and eats lizards. It is not dangerous to humans.

‘Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain & Europe’ [Collins]

5 to remember
el invitado– the guest
una serpiente bebé– a baby snake
mi dedo meñique– my little finger
la mitad delantera– the front half
treinta minutos más tarde-thirty minutes later

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An hour in the life of a baby snake #Nature in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley 

A sliver of silver

Until I lived here I don’t think I appreciated the beauty of monochrome colours. Previously I had applied the term ‘monochrome’ to the white/black/grey palette but in fact it refers to all tints, tones and shades of a single colour. Darken it by adding black, grey or a darker colour; lighten by adding white. So isn’t nature clever, producing this silver/white/grey display at dusk?

As the clouds moved and the sun set, the display was ever-changing. At times, the glint of silver was almost like liquid mercury, reminding me of a sculpture at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona: ‘Fuente de Mercurio’ by Alexander Calder [below]. The drip of liquid mercury seemed to defy reality: liquid? metal? The colour was so pure. 5 to remember
los colores monocromos – the monochrome colours
siempre cambiante – ever-changing
casi como – almost like
una escultura – a sculpture
el mercurio – the mercury/quicksilver

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A sliver of silver: like liquid metal? The sky at dusk in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley