Tag Archives: nature

Bird song: Great Tit

Can you tell the difference between a Great Tit and a Blue Tit? No? Before we came to live here, I was hazy about them too. Sometimes it is still a bit hit and miss, but basically the Great Tit is larger and looks as if he is wearing a yellow waistcoat over a black shirt. Or alternatively, a black tie with a yellow shirt. The Blue has a plain yellow breast. Not very technical ‘birding’ language, but I hope you know what I mean. Although both types of Tit are resident here, we see mostly Greats. Its colouring is slightly stronger than the Blue, though in flight to be honest they whizz by in a flash of yellow and blue.

Found across Europe, there are thirty different races of Great Tit and there are just as many variations of Great Tit song as there are of the bird. In the spring, if you hear a bird song you can’t identify there’s a good chance there’s a Great Tit nearby. Particularly familiar is the two-tone ‘teach-er teach-er’.

Listen to the song of the Great Tit at Xeno-Canto.

5 to remember
un poco impredecible – a bit hit and miss
parece como si – looks as if
un chaleco amarillo – a yellow waistcoat
una corbata negra – a black tie
espero que sepas lo que quiero decir – I hope you know what I mean

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Grey Wagtail
Sparrowhawk
Jay

 

Our most used bird book? ‘Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe’
Amazon UK

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Great Tit? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2xH via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Gold #42

Touch it at your peril. Dried Common Thistle. July 26, 2013 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Dried thistle, golden in the summer #Plants in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2yS via @Spanish_Valley 

Bird song: Black Wheatear

If we want to find a Black Wheatear here, we look around rough, stony ground and quite often spot one at the base of sheer cliffs. This mostly black bird is often hidden in the shade of boulders and scree slopes, but is resident here and we regularly see one in the valley. Its song is a beautiful whistling ‘pewp’ and harder ‘tet-tet’, but in flight it becomes a pleasant twittering sound.

The Black Wheatear seems to prefer the ground where it leaps and hops, foraging for insects. It even nests on the ground in a grassy cup in a hole in the ground, in a vacant rabbit burrow, in a stone wall or beneath rocks on a slope. It appears mostly black, but when in flight it is possible to glimpse its large white rump and tail.

Although the Wheatear has struggled in Northern Europe, here in Spain the Black Wheatear is listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018.
Listen to the song of the Black Wheatear at Xeno-Canto.

5 to remember
a la sombra de las rocas – in the shade of boulders
una madriguera de conejo vacante – a vacant rabbit burrow
es posible vislumbrar – it is possible to glimpse
menor preocupación – least concern
especies amenazadas – threatened species

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Blackcap
Cetti’s Warbler
Robin

 

Our most used bird book? ‘Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe’
Amazon UK

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 Wheater? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2xA via @Spanish_Valley

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

SaveSave

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