Category Archives: Nature

Horse Corner in April

Is this the greenest spot in our valley? This is Horse Corner. So called, because in our first year here we went for a walk one day and turned the corner along the track and found a friendly horse tethered in this place. And I can understand why he was so happy: knee-high fresh spring grass, plus wild oats and wildflowers, predominantly yellow charlock.

It is common in the countryside here to see a horse tethered on a long rein in a patch of luscious grass, alongside a track or a patch of wild ground. They are often moved daily, seeking out the best grazing, and often in a field of stubble after the wheat harvest. Quite a few of our neighbours own horses and they are treated as precious creatures, groomed and decorated and ridden quite some distance to romerías, local festivals in the summertime.

Typical romería

Most Andalucian villages have their own romería [above] taking place on their local saint’s day. The day starts with a walk to the saint’s shrine, a slow procession through the countryside, everyone dressed in their best, the horses with plaited manes and tails, bridles and saddles highly polished. The day ends back in the village with stalls, food and fairground rides, and usually continues into the small hours.

5 to remember
el caballo – the horse
precioso – precious
la silla de montar – the saddle
la brida – the bridle
la melena – a horse’s mane

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lush and green: Horse Corner in April #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gq via @Spanish_Valley

Is this a type of Buckthorn?

This tree grows along the Thyme Track, in April it is laden with creamy-orange flowers. I’m not sure what it is: a type of Buckthorn, the Rhamnaceae family? Perhaps the Paliurus spina-christi, Miller Christ’s Thorn.

If you can identify it, I’d love to hear from you.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
espino cerval – the buckthorn
cargado de – laden with
no estoy seguro – I’m not sure
quizás – perhaps
si puedes – if you can

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Is this a type of buckthorn? #trees #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-1K4 via @Spanish_Valley

Aliens

April is a wonderful month of anticipation, when Spring works its magic and there is something new to see every day. Such as these new buds, unfurling. Their necks not strong enough to stand straight, as if they are shy. Do you recognize them?

They may look like aliens, but they are the buds of the Common Poppy.

[source: Wikipedia]

5 to remember
la anticipación – the anticipation
despliegue – unfurling
el cuello – the neck
tímido – shy
los alienígenas – the aliens

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Aliens: what are these flowers unfurling in Spring? #Nature #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29t

Bird song: Willow Warbler

We are getting better at identifying birds, especially the small Sparrow-sized ones which are a thousand variations of brown. One of our latest identification triumphs is the Willow Warbler, a tiny – 11cm long – warbler which visits us here for the summer from sub-Saharan Africa.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

He sat on a shrub singing away, a beautiful fluid song, not frightened by our proximity and curiosity. Like a lot of small songbirds, his song is bigger and louder than he is. He is plain grey- brown all over except for a pale stripe above his eye, and a buff white chest and belly.

Listen to the Willow Warbler’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
último – latest
un triunfo – a triumph
una curruca – a warbler
nuestra proximidad – our proximity
nuestra curiosidad – our curiosity

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

 

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:
The fluid song of a summer visitor: the Willow Warbler #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KD

Buds, on the verge of bursting

It feels like waiting on the edge, of a sunrise or sunset, of an eclipse. The buds on the trees here are on the verge of bursting, but it hasn’t quite happened yet. They are fattening, getting rounder, with that teasing glimpse of green where the casing starts to burst. Some trees are nearer than others. As always, the walnut will be last. First will be pomegranate, cherry and acacia.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
se siente como – it feels like
en el borde – on the edge
en el borde de – on the verge of
burlando – teasing
como siempre – as always

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Buds, on the verge of bursting #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dN via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Gold #38

Autumn seedhead with ploughed fields in the background. October 12, 2013

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Autumn seedhead & ploughed fields #countryside in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bl

A walk on the Thyme Track

Walking along the Thyme Track into the wildest part of the valley, where the slopes are a dense mat of shrubs and thorns, away from the cultivation of olives, we encountered a reminder of the durability of nature. The stumps of olive trees: one old and gnarled; another twisted and dried; a third burned, presumably by the farmer. The fourth gave us the answer: new growth sprouting from an old tree stump, hacked, felled, burned, but still alive.

Elsewhere along the Thyme Track, signs of spring are everywhere. Green grass covers Horse Corner. The view to the other side of the river is not so clear, partly-hidden by new leaves. And the viburnum [aptly called durillo, ‘tough one’ in Spanish] is flowering.

5 to remember
denso – dense
nudoso – gnarled
quemado – burned
en otra parte – elsewhere
parcialmente oculto por – partly-hidden by

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Gnarled, burned and felled olive #trees: a walk on the Thyme Track #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dY via @Spanish_Valley