Category Archives: Nature

A fantastic disguise

I think this master of disguise is a Lilac Beauty moth. I saw it resting on a parsley plant and thought it was a dead leaf. Consider the size of the parsley leaf in the background, and you will see how small this moth is.The apeira syringaria feeds on honeysuckle and privet. We don’t have any privet here but we are surrounded by honeysuckle hedges which we planted for its scent. So, plenty of food here. Most fascinating though is its wing shape, its resemblance to a dead leaf

[photo: Wikipedia]

5 to remember
el disfraz – the disguise
descansando – resting
una hoja muerta – a dead leaf
el fondo – the background
el ligustro – the privet

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A fantastic disguise #Moths in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26S 

The Levant is blowing

Hot dry air parches the ground. But the olive farmers don’t mind as it kills the surface weeds and leaves moisture deep down for the roots of their trees, now heavy with flowers. It is the Levante or Levanter wind which blows from the east across the Mediterranean from May to October.

The origin of the Levante name is the same as the origin of the Levant, the region of the eastern Mediterranean. It is the Middle French word ‘levant’, the participle of lever ‘to raise’ — in Spanish levantar meaning to raise up, lift up, build, get up and levantarse meaning to get up in the morning. Both French and Spanish come from the Latin ‘levare’ and refers to the eastern direction of the rising sun. The opposite of the Levante wind is the Poniente which comes from the west, the term originates from the Spanish verb ponerse meaning to lay down, put down. In other words, the setting of the sun in the west.

5 to remember
el origen de – the origin of
la región – the region
la dirección este – the eastern direction
se origina de – originates from
significa que – meaning to

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Levante wind is blowing in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26r

Heavy with flowers

The things I knew about olives, before we lived in Spain, could be counted on five fingers. Olives with stones or without. Olives stuffed with anchovies. Olives stuffed with almonds. Green olives. Black olives. So here are some facts I’ve learned over the years that I’d like to share with you.

  1. To grow flowers and fruit, olive trees need a two month period of cold weather with temperatures dropping below 10°C or 50°F; and also a fluctuation between day and night time temperatures.
  2. There is such a thing as too hot and too dry which inhibit flowering, even though the tree itself is able to tolerate these conditions.
  3. There is also the problem of too much rain, although olives need rain in the autumn in order to fatten up.
  4. Olive trees are wind-pollinated. The flowers grow in late spring; there are two types. Perfect [containing both male and female parts] which are capable of developing into the olive fruits; and Male, containing only the pollen-producing parts.
  5. Fruit setting is often erratic and in some areas, especially where irrigation and fertilization are not practiced, bearing in alternate years is the rule. The trees may set a heavy crop one year and not even bloom the next. This happens around us.
  6. Not all buds will turn into blossom and subsequently into fruit. Some will become first shoots and then branches which, in turn, will generate new buds. And so the olive cycle is guaranteed.
  7. Fruit is produced at the tips of the previous year’s growth; so excessive pruning will prevent fruiting though thinning of the crop is recommended.
  8. The Spanish cure their olives in brine and eat them with a pinch of salt; our neighbours were perplexed by my jars of olives cured and bottled with rosemary, lemon, thyme and chilli.

5 to remember
para que – in order to
polinizado por el viento – wind-pollinated
después – subsequently/afterwards
errático – erratic
perplejo – perplexed

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A few facts about olives #secretvalley in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gL via @Spanish_Valley

A bat, asleep

When I found this bat, behind a tall plant pot in the pool house beside the pool, I feared he was dead. I took two photos and decided to wait and see.

The next morning he was gone. Perhaps he had fallen and was stunned. I’m fairly sure he was a Pipistrelle because his body was small, usually they are 3.5 to 5.2 cm, his rounded muzzle and reddish-brown fur. 

[photo Wikipedia]

The Pipistrelle [above] is fairly common here and across Europe. It forages along woodland edges, looking for flies, caddisflies, lacewings and mayflies. It considers mosquitoes, midges and gnats as particular delicacies.

 

‘Wild Animals’ [RSPB Pocket Nature]

5 to remember
el murciélago– the bat
estoy bastante seguro– I’m fairly sure
el hocico redondeado– the rounded muzzle
el pelaje marrón rojizo– the reddish-brown fur
bastante común – fairly common

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A Pipistrelle bat, asleep #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2jm via @Spanish_Valley 

Bird song: Serin

A short-tailed yellowish member of the finch family, I’m guessing you’ve probably seen a Serin but not recognised it. Its upper parts are streaked greyish green with a yellow rump, the yellow breast and white belly are also heavily streaked. The male is brighter than the female, with a yellow face and breast, yellow wing bars and yellow tail sides. So if you see a small bird fly by in a blur of yellow, it will be a Serin. Its song is a buzzing trill, a common sound around our valley. It sounds like ‘zirr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r’. a very quick, sharp sound a bit like breaking glass. Males sing while in flight, or when sitting at the top of trees. One of the most common finches around the Mediterranean, it likes olive groves and we see them fly in yellow flocks above our olive trees.

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

5 to remember
una serina – a serin
rayado – streaked
es más brillante que – is brighter than
zumbido – buzzing
una mancha – a blur

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Booted Eagle
Cetti’s Warbler
Golden Oriole

 

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:
How does the Serin sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2a3