Tag Archives: Spanish countryside

A tiny moth

This moth may be tiny, about the size of my thumbnail, but he was not deterred by my presence as I pottered around in the kitchen. He sat on the kitchen window and didn’t flinch as I raised the external blinds, did the washing up and boiled the kettle for tea. I searched through both my butterfly books but finished without an answer to his identity. His stripes ran the gamut of mushroom colourings, from dark brown to chestnut and pale milk.

I hoped that, because of his clear markings, he would be simple to identify. I was wrong. If you recognize him, please let me know. When I returned five minutes later, he had vanished.

5 to remember
mi presencia– my presence
las persianas externas– the external blinds
la gama de– the gamut of
un champiñón – a mushroom
él había desaparecido – he had vanished

 

‘Butterflies and Moths: a Pocket Guide’ [UK: Dorling Kindersley]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A tiny moth #Insects & #moths in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2po via @Spanish_Valley 

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Bird song: Barn Owl

If you see an owl, it is most likely a Barn Owl. It is sometimes about by day in winter, and in summer can often be seen hunting before dark – lots of hungry mouths to feed means the parents cannot be exclusively nocturnal. It is a medium-sized with a wingspan just under 1m and has a large head, but the easiest way to identify it is by its white underside and underwings.

There is no fluting song from this owl. It does not hoot [that’s the Tawny]. You may hear hissing and snoring from its nest, or a shrill or high squeak of alarm or when courting. Adults and juveniles will hiss like a snake to scare intruders. It nests in big holes, for example in a tree, a stack of bales or a building.

Listen to the Barn Owl’s shriek at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
si tú ves  – if you see
una lechuza comun – a Barn Owl
nocturno – nocturnal
una envergadura – a wingspan
identificar – to identify

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Stonechat
Hoopoe
Serin

 

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 Barn Owl shriek? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2af

Fifty Shades of White #7

A sunset in March: white clouds, pink edges. March 19, 2016

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A sunset in March: white clouds, pink edges #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bD

An hour in the life of a baby snake

Most of the afternoon, we didn’t spot the guest lounging beside the swimming pool. A baby Montpellier snake – identified by his spotted skin, which will become fairly uniform as he matures – lying almost entirely hidden by the long thin shadow of the pool railing. Thin, thinner than the size of my little finger, he was about a foot long, curled up around himself in S’s. Then he awoke and stretched, his head nudging into the strong March afternoon sun. About 24°C.

And then he spotted us, or felt the vibration of our footsteps, and he made a break for it. Dropping into the water, at first he swam along the edge. But with each attempt to climb out, wriggling the front half of his body to dry land, he failed to get his tail out of the water. And so he swam out into the deep water. A quick and efficient swimmer, next he swam to the steps where he stuck his head about the surface and gulped air before heading off again. 

By now, we feared he was stuck. And so we intervened with the pool net. We left him to dry in the sun. When we returned thirty minutes later, he was gone.

[photo: Wikipedia]

We know there must be snakes around us in the countryside but rarely see them, except for dead snakeskins. The adult Montpellier snake [above] grows up to 2m long, is active during the day and eats lizards. It is not dangerous to humans.

‘Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain & Europe’ [Collins]

5 to remember
el invitado– the guest
una serpiente bebé– a baby snake
mi dedo meñique– my little finger
la mitad delantera– the front half
treinta minutos más tarde-thirty minutes later

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
An hour in the life of a baby snake #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2jE via @Spanish_Valley 

Bird song: Woodpigeon

Is this the most familiar of all bird song? The dreamy coo-ing of the Woodpigeon is familiar here as they fly in flocks across the valley, out over the village and into the hills. Sometimes, the Woodpigeon’s coo-ing sounds muffled, as it it is hiding its head in its feathers. A pretty sound and, actually, a pretty bird, although like most common things we forget to notice it. The pink-breasted Woodpigeons mingle here with the also common Stock Doves which have a noticeable green glossy patch on the neck.

Listen to the Woodpigeon sing here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
una paloma – a woodpigeon
soñador – dreamy
una bandada de pájaros – a flock of birds
perceptible – noticeable
un parche – a patch

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Swallow
Short-Toed Eagle
Willow Warbler

 

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 Woodpigeon sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2a9

Old ruins

The hardships of living in this countryside in centuries gone by are everywhere here. Old ruins. Roofs and ceilings collapsed, walls fallen, tiles foraged by passers-by. The skeletons of what were once farmhouses and outbuildings, once home to people and animals, stand as a monument to their previous inhabitants. Thick stone walls insulated against the heat of summer and the frost of winter, small windows minimised glare from the sun; all now surrounded by weeds with a coating of green moss and silvery lichen. These ruins stand isolated, a clue to the desertion of their occupants; no electricity, no running water. How hard the lives must have been of these farmers without our modern-day conveniences of broadband and satellite television, off-road vehicles and solar panels. But I know in my heart that we today have a deep connection with these disappeared people; we have all stood on our doorsteps, turned our faces to the sun and marvelled at the beauty of the countryside here.

5 to remember
en siglos pasados ​​por – in centuries gone by
una pista – a clue
la deserción de – the desertion of
las comodidades modernas – the modern-day conveniences
la puerta – the doorstep

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Old #ruins: who once lived here? #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gW 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