Tag Archives: nature

Bird song: Nightjar

I know someone who once saw a Nightjar in Spain at dusk in the summer.

[photo: Mull Birds & Jim Bevan]

I have never seen one, but I have heard them sing. Such a strange, haunting song ‘churr-churr’ which can vary from a soft purr to a harder wooden rattle. It flies at dusk and dawn, on the hunt for moths and insects, with its mouth wide open.

Actually, I may have seen a Nightjar but thought it was a Cuckoo or Kestrel. It is similar-sized and shaped, with pointed wings and a long tail. All sorts of ancient myths exist about Nightjars, principally that they steal milk from goats. The latter belief led to the Nightjar’s nickname ‘goatsucker’.

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

5 to remember
tal vez lo he visto – I may have seen
de tamaño semejante – similar-sized
de forma semejante – similar-shaped
último – latter
la creencia – the belief

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Red-Legged Partridge
Wren
Woodpigeon

 

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 Nightjar? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aI

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The javelina, or is it?

The name of this orphan has caused some confusion. Our neighbour Pablo, whose son stumbled on the baby during a hunting trip in the hills, calls it a javelina. In fact javelina is another name for a peccary, a medium-sized hooved animal, part of the pig family. But the new occupant of the vacant hen house looks more to me as if it is a wild boar piglet, the clue being its distinctive stripes which have faded over the last two to three weeks as it has grown.

I suspect the confusion has arisen because the peccary/javelina is often kept as a pet or raised on farms as a source of food. Needless to say, Pablo had his family have no plans to eat their javelina which at the first opportunity is out of his pen and into the house. Cheeky and curious, when missing he is apparently found most often underneath the bed. No word on their plans for him when he is older!

5 to remember
un huérfano – an orphan
la confusion – the confusion
talla media – medium-sized
enganchado – hooved
distintivo – distinctive


Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The javelina: an orphan, now a cheeky addition to ‘la granja’ #nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2nx via @Spanish_Valley  

Lizard versus Cricket

I don’t often have the opportunity to take live action photographs, so I was chuffed with this series of wild nature in action on our terrace. The cricket put up quite a fight with a couple of big jumps but the lizard anticipated where he would land and was there waiting.

I’m no wildlife expert but I think the lizard is a Large Psammodromus because of his long tail and the two long white stripes along his flanks. The male has a blue spot on its shoulder and this one doesn’t, so I’m guessing it’s a she. Very strong with a thicker head than our usual Iberian Wall Lizards and without the vertebral stripes on the tail. The cricket is more difficult to identify as there are 40 types of cricket. Most are dark brown, this one is creamy grey. I’m guessing it is a King Cricket. How do I know it’s a cricket and not a grasshopper? Because crickets have long antennae, while grasshoppers have short.

5 to remember
la oportunidad– the opportunity
un lagarto– a lizard
un grillo– a cricket
un saltamontes– a grasshopper
las antenas– the antennae

 

Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lizard versus Cricket #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2vW via @Spanish_Valley 

Bird song: Crested Lark

There are six types of Lark in Spain, according to my bird book. Five are residents: the Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark and Calandra Lark. The Short-Toed Lark is a summer visitor. I am confident in identifying only one, the Crested Lark, because of the crest on its head which looks like a teenage boy with a quiff sticking up. Admittedly, the Thekla Lark has a crest too, but not quite as prominent. As a rule of thumb, if it is perching on a bush it is a Thekla Lark.

Its call is rich and fluting, often ending on an up note. ‘Vee-vee-teu’ and ‘tree-loo-ee’.
Listen to the song of the Crested Lark at You Tube.

5 to remember
la alondra con cresta – the Crested Lark
los residentes – the residents
estoy confiado/a – I am confident
un adolescente – a teenage boy
un quiff – a quiff

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

 

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 Crested Lark sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2al

Petals on the steps

Our house stands on a hillside. Beneath us is a terrace of three levels, filled with multi-coloured oleanders, roses, ivy, honeysuckle, tall grasses, iris, pyracantha, rosemary and lavender. Mid-way down the hill, a path of stepping stones leads along a ridge to the top of a flight of steps. These rustic steps lead down to the river, with wild hillside on the left and the fruit orchard on the right. Shade is provided by tall oleander bushes and wild pomegranate trees. At the bottom is a picnic bench where we sit to chill out with an early morning mug of tea or an evening glass of wine, listen to the waterfall, admire the valley, and check on the progress of the wild figs. Are they ready to pick? Will we eat them fresh with some soft local goats cheese, or poached in syrup with a vanilla pod?

5 to remember
una ladera– a hillside
de tres niveles– of three levels
multicolor – multi-coloured
los escalones– the stepping stones
salvaje – wild

 

I use ‘Mediterranean Garden Plants’ by Lorraine Cavanagh [UK: Santana]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Petals on the steps #Spain #gardening https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2pK via @Spanish_Valley 

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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]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
In shades of cream, coffee, earth & pewter with minute specks of gold #moths & #butterflies in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2nq 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]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A tiny moth #Insects & #moths in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2po via @Spanish_Valley 

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