Tag Archives: nature

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

A big fellow, or not

I think this is the biggest grasshopper I have seen. He quickly assumed the name ‘a big fellow’ but after some gentle research I think he is a) definitely a grasshopper, not a cricket, because his legs are held lower, and b) he is a she, given the presence of an ovipositor [the organ at the end of the abdomen which is used for laying eggs]. I would be hopeless as a biologist, at first glance I thought the ovipositor was a broken leg.Read about some of the other grasshoppers and crickets in the hidden valley:-
Black grasshopper
The three grasshoppers
Grasshoppers and butterflies
A September visitor
Now that’s what I call green

5 to remember
creo que ésto es – I think this is
el abdomen – the abdomen
un biólogo – a biologist
a primera vista – at first glance
una pierna rota – a broken leg

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A big, gentle fellow #Insects in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24C

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

Food for ants

Nature is a place of survival. There is no place for squeamishness, sentiment or emotion. The annual cycle is driven by food and reproduction, and both are involved in this little story. Our terraces are home to numerous ants which do a sterling job of clearing up and keeping things tidy. They are constantly working, perpetually seeking and following and carrying and dragging. But this meal turned out to be too big to fit into the hole to their nest. So, a little dissection was needed. I don’t know how the baby lizard died, but I admire the tenacity of the ants.

5 to remember
el sobreviviente – the survival
el escrúpulo – the squeamishness
el sentimiento – the sentiment
la emocion – the emotion
la reproducción – the reproduction

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
It’s lunchtime: food for ants #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24h

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

Whose tail is this?

When I opened the door I stepped back, at first glance I thought this was a long, dried-up, dead worm. On closer inspection it was something more fascinating: the tail of a lizard. lizard tail 14-5-14Six inches long, so its owner must have been a fair size; say 10-12 inches in total. Before his loss. I’ve heard that lizards lose their tails in pursuit, in danger, in panic. It is said that the tail continues to wriggle after it is shed. For sure, something large and hungry was chasing the tail’s owner. We will never know the full story.

5 to remember
a primera vista – at first glance
reseco/a – dried-up
un gusano – a worm
en una inspección más cercana – on closer inspection
en persecución – in pursuit

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Is it a worm, is it a snake? No… #Wildlife in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1rn