Tag Archives: birds

Bird song: Griffon Vulture

Spain has the biggest colony of Griffon Vultures in the whole of Europe, in 2008 there were 25,000 birds. We are lucky enough to see them soar over our valley, often so high they are pinpricks which disappear from sight and then reappear. They are scavengers, tidying up the campo of dead animals, mostly circling in pairs or larger groups. They can reach heights of 10,000m or higher. It is exceedingly rare to see a solitary Griffon.

The longest-lived Griffon survived in captivity to the age of 55. So the Griffons which circle above our house could have been doing so since the early Sixties… the Beatles, the Stones, the first Apollo flights to the moon.

I have been a bit cheeky to feature the Griffon in my ‘Bird Song’ series, because the bird is mostly silent apart from the odd bit of hissing when it is eating. Which I didn’t know until I started researching, and thought you might not know too.

5 to remember
la colonia – the colony
el buitre leonado – the Griffon vulture
la totalidad de – the whole of
tenemos suerte – we are lucky enough
un carroñero – a scavenger

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Green Woodpecker
Black Redstart
Hoopoe

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you know what sound the Griffon Vulture makes? #Birds in #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-28C via @Spanish_Valley

The feather of …?

Found on our terrace. One feather.

The feather is 22cm long, barred, cream and brown. My current guess is that it belongs to a male buzzard, although the white at the base of the feather could suggest a sparrowhawk. I used Raptors: a field guide for surveys and monitoring at Eurapmon, the body which researches and monitors raptors in Europe. I was surprised by the wealth of feather identification guides online, it is not something I have researched before.

Do you know which bird this feather belongs to?

Read about the song of the Sparrowhawks, here in our valley.

5 to remember
una pluma – a feather
listado/a – barred/striped
mi conjetura actual – my current guess
me sorprendió – I was surprised by
conectado/on-line – online

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
What type of bird does this feather belong to? #Birds in #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24U via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Black Redstart

The black and red of this bird’s name refer to its tail colouring. Similar in size and weight to the Common Redstart, to which it is not closely related. It likes stony ground which is probably why we see so many here, the rough rocky outcrops around the valley and the surrounding countryside are a perfect habitat. Some of its behaviour is similar to the Robin – it ducks its head and body – and flicks its tail, though it catches passing insects in flight which the Robin does not. The male has a rattling song and a tick call.

Listen to the Black Redstart’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el colorante – the colouring
similar en tamaño y peso – similar in size and weight
estrechamente relacionada – closely related
el comportamiento – the behaviour
el sitio web – the website

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

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Black Redstart? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24H

Whose nest is this?

Look what I found when I was deadheading the roses. A tiny nest, delicately balanced in the middle of a large rose bush. Beautifully woven. No owner in residence. No known eggs or chicks. Too small to belong to a blackbird, could it belong to one of the finch family?

5 to remember
mira lo que he encontrado – look what I found
muerto las rosas – deadheading the roses
delicadamente equilibrado – delicately balanced
bellamente tejido – beautifully woven
el propietario – the owner

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Who does this beautifully woven nest belong to? #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-243

Bird song: Chaffinch

The male Chaffinch is a strong singer, especially when he is trying to attract a mate. Resident here, he is easily spotted with his blue/grey cap and dark rusty red breast. As is the way with nature the female is a duller brown, but both birds feature the same white wing patches. I am yet to spot a deep-cupped Chaffinch nest, which they build in the fork of a tree. More often we see them sitting in the acacia tree outside our kitchen window, and it is their song which draws us to look out.

[photo: John Haslam]

After the bird moults in autumn, the tips of the new feathers have a buff fringe which adds a brown tone to its plumage. Over the winter, the ends of the feathers wear away and by the spring breeding season the birds are looking their best again as the brighter colours beneath are now on display.

Listen to the Chaffinch’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un amigo – a mate
gris – duller [colour]
la ala – the wing
más a menudo – more often
la ventana de la cocina – the kitchen window

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

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Chaffinch? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22J

Bird song: Green Woodpecker

If you don’t like bugs, Green Woodpeckers are your best friend as they eat all types of insects and love ants. You probably hear a Green Woodpecker every day, we do, but don’t particularly recognize its call. It doesn’t ‘drum’ like other woodpeckers, and spends most of its time on the ground. Its green [on top] and yellow [beneath] colouring means it is often mistaken in flight for a female Golden Oriole. Its loud call is called ‘yaffling’ and gave its name to the wooden bookend Professor Yaffle in the children’s television series Bagpuss.

Listen to the Green Woodpecker’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
se confunde a menudo con – is often mistaken for
el colorante – the colouring
el profesor – the professor
en vuelo – in flight
el pupitre – the bookend

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

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Green Woodpecker? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1ZE

Bird song: Stonechat

About the size of a robin, the stonechat is a pretty red-breasted bird which is resident here all year round. They like heath and moorland which explains why they are happy in the rough vegetation of our valley. There are various races, the one here is Saxicola Rubicola. Its call is easy to recognize, a sort of ‘chak’ which can sound a bit like two pebbles being clattered together. Hence its name, I guess. There is also a more territorial-sounding ‘krrrr’.

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

Listen to the Stonechat’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
de pecho rojo – red-breasted
son felices – they are happy
por lo tanto – hence/therefore
fácil de reconocer – easy to recognize
dos guijarros – two pebbles

[photo: RSPB]

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Green Woodpecker
Golden Oriole
Roller

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Robin-like Stonechat in #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wb