Tag Archives: nature

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:-
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

Walnuts, almost ready

The walnuts are almost ready, the husks are splitting and the nut is visible inside. They haven’t fallen from the trees yet though, so perhaps there is another week to wait.

Harvesting is simple: just pick them from the ground where they have fallen. To check for ripeness, open a nut: if the tissue between the kernel and the shell is brown, they’re ripe. If a good few have fallen, the rest may fall too if you give the tree a shake [do it the Spanish way and spread an old blanket or sheet on the ground first].

The next step is to remove the husks. Wear gloves to do this, as the tannins will stain your hands brown. Once the husks are removed, wash the shells with a high-pressure hose. Inspect the nuts and discard any with discoloured or cracked shells. Lay them in the sunshine to dry. Before storing, open a few to test for dryness. If you can open the shell easily with a nutcracker, and the nut inside can be broken in two, they are ready to eat.

Walnuts will keep in their shells for several months. If storing the shelled nuts, keep them in an airtight container.

For recipes including walnuts, try:-
Lighter Brownies
Walnut Teabread
Roasted Cauliflower Salad

5 to remember
las cáscaras – the husks
visible – visible
la madurez de – the ripeness of
el núcleo – the kernel
los taninos – the tannins

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The #walnuts are almost ready to harvest #nature http://wp.me/p3dYp6-256 via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Gold #36

Yellow lichen on walnut tree. March 10, 2014

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Yellow lichen on walnut tree in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aW

September in the valley

The dead tree looks no different, really, in September than it does in June or July. Except for the lack of something: it is the favourite resting post of bee-eaters. But they have left now for Africa and we miss their swooping presence, the flash of blue and bronze, their song.  Although the bee-eaters may have sensed the approach of autumn, for us September is summer. At the beginning of the month, daytime temperatures rise to around 32°C, falling overnight to 18°C. As October approaches, the daytime heat is more likely to be 26°C. Nine hours of sunshine a day. No rain. Skies are clear, though towards the end of the month we may start to see a few clouds. September is my favourite month.

5 to remember
la falta de algo – the lack of something
el poste de descanso – the resting post
abalanzando – swooping
la presencia – the presence
el flash de – the flash of

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The tree without the bee-eaters: September in the #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-28f