Tag Archives: Spanish countryside

Bird song: Stonechat

About the size of a robin, the stonechat is a pretty red-breasted bird which is resident here all year round. They like heath and moorland which explains why they are happy in the rough vegetation of our valley. There are various races, the one here is Saxicola Rubicola. Its call is easy to recognize, a sort of ‘chak’ which can sound a bit like two pebbles being clattered together. Hence its name, I guess. There is also a more territorial-sounding ‘krrrr’.

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

Listen to the Stonechat’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
de pecho rojo – red-breasted
son felices – they are happy
por lo tanto – hence/therefore
fácil de reconocer – easy to recognize
dos guijarros – two pebbles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Robin-like Stonechat in #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wb

Our olive grove in February

In terms of the lifespan of an olive tree, ours are not even toddlers. Some olive trees live to be 1500 years old, the average lifespan is 500 years [or less depending on the Spanish Government’s periodic grants to farmers for planting new varieties, which sees the old trees ripped up]. Humans have been eating olives since the Bronze Age. Many olive trees around the Mediterranean have been dated to 2000 years of age, an olive tree in Croatia is still fruiting at the age of 1600 years. Our olive grove was a field when we bought the property, it had been used as paddocks for livestock rearing. Previously wheat was grown there hence the ancient ‘threshing patch’. We removed the fencing and planted olive trees which have taken five years to grow to the size you see below. The threshing patch remains untouched.

Read these two Olive Oil Times articles: the first explains the life cycle of the olive tree, the second about a Spaniard rescuing millenary olive trees.

Here are two previous articles published on ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’ about our threshing patch: the first explains its origins, the second is a photographic tour throughout the year.

5 to remember
la vida útil – the lifespan
un niño – a toddler
periódico – periodic
una beca – a grant
rasgar – to rip up

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Our olive grove in February: #farming in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1TK

Winter on the Thyme Track

The character of the Thyme Track is different from the house-side of the valley which we see every day. The Thyme Track runs around the edge of the valley where it takes a sharp turn, like an elbow.

There are pine trees on the opposite hillside, wild herbs [including the eponymous thyme] line the track used by the occasional farmer reaching his remotest olives, and nesting holes stand empty until spring. In this tranquil wilderness, birds flourish. Resident blackbirds greet my approach and there are flocks of small brown birds which fly in flurries and move so fast they challenge my identification skills.

5 to remember
el carácter de – the character of
un giro brusco – a sharp turn
un codo – an elbow
epónimo/a – eponymous
la más remota – the remotest

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Winter: wild herbs, berries, shadows & a flurry of small brown birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1BK

December in the valley

Really things never stop growing here. In winter it is rare for it to be cold enough to stop the hardiest plants from growing and the bursts of searing heat from the winter sun help too. So in corners in the wintering valley are bursts of colour, new flowers, olives ready for the harvest, alongside dried autumnal fruits fit for nothing but lunch for the birds.

5 to remember
los más fuertes – the hardiest
lo suficientemente frío – cold enough
calor abrasador – searing heat
una ráfaga – a burst
junto a – alongside

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Fruit & leaves hang on: December in the #hidden valley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1B3

Old wells

Dotted around the landscape are circular stone or brick-built structures with domed roofs. At further investigation, they turn out to be wells. Their location is determined where the spring rises, rather than where is convenient and so they are often located in the middle of fields, along a deserted track, or beneath a tree.

5 to remember
un pozo – a well
circular – circular
una estructura – a structure
abovedado/a – domed
un techo – a roof

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Old wells in the #Spanishcountryside via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1P5

October in the valley

October is a month of ripe fruit, fattening olives and a second-blooming of flowers. All the pot plants flower through into winter, lasting all year with a bit of tender care. Geraniums all-year round is a treat I didn’t expect when we first moved here. The mint has got a new burst of energy too. All around the valley, fruit is ripening, going over and falling… the birds love it, and we love it too as it gives us a chance to see birds we would not normally spot.

5 to remember
engordante – fattening
todo el año – all-year round
no esperaba – I didn’t expect
también – too/also
que no haría normalmente – we would not normally

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Ripe fruit & fat olives: October in the valley #Spain #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1OC

Wild grasses

There are many types of wild grass growing here, some are escaped wheat and oats from the fields. Oats are my favourite, glowing a delicate pale gold, but all of them are lovely. They ripple in a light breeze, it reminds me of wind on the sea.

5 to remember
hay – there is/there are
escapó – escaped
candente – glowing
que ondulan – they ripple
me recuerda a – it reminds me of

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Wild grasses #Spain #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1OZ