Tag Archives: nature

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

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

Bird song: Skylark

How do you spot a Skylark? Well, it’s a bit bigger than a Sparrow but not as big as a Starling. And it’s brown. The best bit… when it sings, or in alarm, it raises its small crest. Its song really is the sound of the countryside in spring, look for it in open farmland and heath. Exactly what we are surrounded by here. It is the song of the male that is most famous. Hovering at heights of 50-100m, seeming like a dot high above, he sings an unbroken melody while he rises, circles and hovers. Normally he warbles for two to three minutes, except in mating season when he may sing constantly for 20 minutes at a time.

Listen to the Skylark sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un poco más grande que – a bit bigger than
pero no como – but not as
el sonido de – the sound of
más famoso – most famous
una melodía ininterrumpida – an unbroken melody

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

 

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 Skylark sing? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2hu via @Spanish_Valley

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Spring shadows

The shadows cast by trees now are not as short or as black as the shadows in summertime. The spring sun is lower in the sky making long shadows, and near sunrise and sunset shadows are at their longest. During the daytime, a shadow cast by an opaque object illuminated by sunlight has a bluish tinge. This is because of ‘Rayleigh scattering’ which also makes the sky to appear blue. The opaque object is able to block the light of the sun, but not the ambient light of the sky which is blue, as the atmosphere molecules scatter blue light more effectively. And so, the shadow appears bluish. Apparently. Although the springtime shadows below definitely look greyish-black.

5 to remember
no tan corto – not as short
un objeto opaco – an opaque object
la luz del sol – the sunlight
un tinte azulado – a bluish tinge
la atmósfera – the atmosphere

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Shadows in springtime #Nature #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29E

Bird song: Nightingale

Everyone has heard of the Nightingale. There are constant references to it in literature, films, music and on television. Everyone knows the Nightingale sings at night. But can you identify its song?

First it is an ordinary brownish bird which looks nothing special and is only slightly bigger than a Robin. Because of its song, I was expecting something bigger. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen one. But I have lain in bed at night lulled into a pleasant doze by the singing of a nightingale in the woods behind the house. When you hear it, you know it can only be one bird. Incidentally, it sings at dusk and dawn and sometimes during the day.

Its song is unstructured and varied, some phrases are very fast with a sudden change from high to low pitch, some low notes are long and slow then build to a throaty trill. Difficult to describe, beautiful to hear. Worthy of all the poetry.

Listen to the Nightingale sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el ruiseñor – the nightingale
un agradable sueño – a pleasant doze
un tono bajo – a low pitch
digno – worthy
la poesía – the poetry

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Chaffinch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Red-Legged Partridge

 

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 Nightingale sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29X

Bird song: Cetti’s Warbler

This non-descript bird is small and difficult to see, but its pretty name commemorates the Italian zoologist Francesco Cetti. Their song is used to signal their presence, a sort of bird ‘I’m here’, and plays an important role. The Cetti repeats the same basic phrase every few minutes so once we’ve identified it, we can track its progress across the valley. Their distinct songs have a structure unique to them and allow them to be sure they are not inadvertently mating with another type of warbler.

It is an explosive, metallic call of ‘chich’ or ‘plit’, and sometimes it seems to shout ‘chee’, ‘chewee’, ‘chewechewechewechewe’. Which, though totally irrelevant, reminds me of Chewbacca.

Listen to the song of the Cetti’s Warbler at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
la cetia curruca – the cetti’s warbler
indeterminado – non-descript
un zoólogo – a zoologist
por inadvertencia – inadvertently
aparearse – to mate

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Goldfinch
Griffon Vulture
Blue Tit

 

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 Cetti’s Warbler? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29O

Through the year: the walnut tree

For a year I have taken photographs of the big walnut tree closest to the house, watching its transition through the seasons. Each month brings something different, something to enjoy about the way nature reminds us life is cyclical. Heat, rain, sun, frost, drought, hail, wind, whatever is thrown at this tree it follows its seasonal progress. And I find that reassuring.

January-March
Bare limbs, yellow and green shadows, silvered bark, smashed walnuts trodden underfoot…

April -May
New life, green leaves, baby walnuts, blue sky, a flash of orange pomegranate flowers…

June-July
Dappled shade, woodpeckers drumming, walnuts fattening…

August-September
Summer’s end, autumn heralded, green leaves powdered with August dust, walnut shells hardening…

October-December
Leaves yellowing, drying and falling, walnuts gathered, shells broken underfoot. The annual cycle begins again.

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

5 to remember
proclamar – to herald/proclaim/announce
moteado – dappled/mottled/speckled
en polvo con – powdered with
anual – annual
el ciclo – the cycle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Through the year: the big walnut #tree #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2cK via @Spanish_Valley