Tag Archives: nature

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

Bird song: Blue Tit

We all know the Blue Tit, or think we do. Blue cap. Yellow breast. White cheeks with a Zorro-like black mask around his face. But do you know what he sounds like? Notice some cheerful singing, close to the house? Quite likely it is a Blue Tit. Its quick ‘tsee-tsee-tsee’ gets a little harder when stressed, ‘tsee-see-sit’. They sing throughout the year, mostly to defend territory or attract a mate, and call to other Blue Tits. Their favourite food is caterpillars, and the yellowness of the male’s breast indicates how many yellow-green caterpillars he has eaten.

Resident here all year round, the Blue Tit’s main rival – for nests, and food – is the Great Tit: a much bigger bird. The Blue Tit is 11.5cm long and weighs 9-12g, compared with the Great Tit at 14cm long and 16-21g. So when you hear the Blue Tit’s scolding ‘churrrrr’ perhaps a Great Tit is near, or a Buzzard, or Sparrowhawk.

Listen to the Blue Tit’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el herrerillo – the blue tit
la máscara negra – the black mask
alrededor de su cara – around his face
el amarillo – the yellowness
las orugas – the caterpillars

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cuckoo
Greenfinch
Mistle Thrush

 

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:
You see him every day but do you know the song of the Blue Tit? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29n

Bird song: Robin

The male and female European Robins, or Robin Redbreasts as they are known in England where they are a regular feature on Christmas cards, both feature a red breast. Or more specifically, an orange breast. It is resident here, but there are robins far across the globe; east to Siberia, south to Algeria and Madeira, and north to Scandinavia.

Whereas robins in England are seen as a gardener’s friend, drawn to digging of the soil, waiting for the appearance of an earthworm, they are said to be more timid on continental Europe where songbirds are hunted. This is not our experience, however. The robins here seem happy on the terrace and display the same territorial behaviour we are used to in the UK. Male robins defend their territory fiercely against other males and other small birds. Because of this their average life expectancy is only 1.1 years, although once that age is passed they can go onto live a long life. One robin has been recorded as reaching 19 years of age.

Apart from the chattering threatening behaviour, a short sharp tik and tik-ik-ik-ik-ik, the robin sings a cheerful fluting song in breeding season. Some of its song resembles a warbler’s, with a long series of musical notes. Listen to the Robin’s song at the RSPB website.

 

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

5 to remember
el petirrojo – the robin
o más específicamente – or more specifically
amenazante – threatening
mientras – whereas
una larga vida – a long life

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Wren
Griffon Vulture
Mistle Thrush

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
He’s a familiar, daily sight, but do you know the song of the Robin? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2fr via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Green #19

Juxtaposition: new spring growth and old tree trunk. April 14, 2010

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
New spring growth & old tree trunk #Juxtaposition in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aS

Fifty Shades of Gold #37

A golden acorn, underfoot. February 11, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A golden acorn, underfoot #countryside in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2b8

October in the valley

From the palest Lemon Yellow through creamy Transparent Gold Ochre to the bright Cadmium Scarlet and Cadmium Orange, the look of the valley is changing daily and looks like something out of my watercolour paintbox. Some trees remain defiantly green – the evergreen Holm Oaks and Pinus – and deciduous Poplars. But for other deciduous trees, autumn is here. Green leaves change colour in the autumn when trees have taken all the food, the chlorophyll, from the leaves. Chlorophyll is the biomolecule which absorbs energy from sunlight and gives leaves their green colour. So at this time of year when sunlight weakens, the leaves stop making food and this green pigment is broken down into colourless compounds. It is then that the yellow pigments are revealed, and other chemical changes can cause red colouration. Today the #secretvalley is a #yellowvalley.

5 to remember
mi acuarela paintbox – my watercolour paintbox
la clorofila – the chlorophyll
la biomolécula – the biomolecule
absorbe la energía de la luz solar – it absorbs energy from sunlight
debilita – it weakens

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Going yellow: October in the #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-28J