Tag Archives: nature

A side-effect of asparagus

The season is with us when everyone wandering around the countryside here seems to be carrying a bag. They are foraging for wild asparagus. But there is one side-effect which is never spoken of. Some people, between 22%-50% of us – are prone to smelly urine after eating asparagus.

Why? It is believed that during digestion the vegetable’s sulphurous compound called mercaptan (which is also found in rotten eggs, onions and garlic) breaks down into smelly chemical components. Because those components are volatile, ie. airborne, the odour wafts upward as the urine leaves the body. This unusual scent is evident quickly, as soon as 15 minutes after eating. Not everyone’s body experiences this process, and not everyone is able to smell it.

Try these recipes featuring asparagus:-
Asparagus and lemon risotto
Roasted asparagus
Wild asparagus and scrambled eggs for lunch

5 to remember
un efecto secundario – a side-effect
nunca se habla de – never spoken of
la orina – the urine
el olor – the odour
tan pronto como – as soon as

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A side-effect of asparagus #Food in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2ju via @Spanish_Valley 

A bat, asleep

When I found this bat, behind a tall plant pot in the pool house beside the pool, I feared he was dead. I took two photos and decided to wait and see.

The next morning he was gone. Perhaps he had fallen and was stunned. I’m fairly sure he was a Pipistrelle because his body was small, usually they are 3.5 to 5.2 cm, his rounded muzzle and reddish-brown fur. 

[photo Wikipedia]

The Pipistrelle [above] is fairly common here and across Europe. It forages along woodland edges, looking for flies, caddisflies, lacewings and mayflies. It considers mosquitoes, midges and gnats as particular delicacies.

 

‘Wild Animals’ [RSPB Pocket Nature]

5 to remember
el murciélago– the bat
estoy bastante seguro– I’m fairly sure
el hocico redondeado– the rounded muzzle
el pelaje marrón rojizo– the reddish-brown fur
bastante común – fairly common

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A Pipistrelle bat, asleep #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2jm via @Spanish_Valley 

Bird song: Serin

A short-tailed yellowish member of the finch family, I’m guessing you’ve probably seen a Serin but not recognised it. Its upper parts are streaked greyish green with a yellow rump, the yellow breast and white belly are also heavily streaked. The male is brighter than the female, with a yellow face and breast, yellow wing bars and yellow tail sides. So if you see a small bird fly by in a blur of yellow, it will be a Serin. Its song is a buzzing trill, a common sound around our valley. It sounds like ‘zirr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r’. a very quick, sharp sound a bit like breaking glass. Males sing while in flight, or when sitting at the top of trees. One of the most common finches around the Mediterranean, it likes olive groves and we see them fly in yellow flocks above our olive trees.

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

5 to remember
una serina – a serin
rayado – streaked
es más brillante que – is brighter than
zumbido – buzzing
una mancha – a blur

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Booted Eagle
Cetti’s Warbler
Golden Oriole

 

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 Serin sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2a3

A garden tiger moth

This is a moth with two faces. At rest, his cream and dark brown forewings are zebra-patterned, very modern, very distinctive. Underneath are hidden his bright orange hindwings. I spotted him first resting on a wall, later collapsed upside-down on the terrace. Beautiful, if dead.

The garden tiger moth is heavy-bodied and hairy, quite easy-to-spot although they do come in a large variety of colour combinations. The colour is designed to ward-off predators, as the moth’s body fluids are poisonous due to its diet of plants such as potato and laburnum which give off toxic substances. If a threat is perceived, the moth opens its wings to show off its coat of many colours.

5 to remember
una polilla – a moth
las alas anteriores – the forewings
las alas posteriores – the hindwings
estampado de cebra – zebra-patterned
al revés – upside-down

 

Collins Butterfly Guide [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A garden tiger moth in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley #moths http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26K

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