Showing posts from July, 2009

A summer evening birding on the steppes

I spent yesterday evening doing bits of business in Trujillo, and finishing at 9pm headed to snatch the last hour of daylight out on the plains of Belén, just twenty minutes from home. One first has to navigate the little village of Belén itself, where the tiny streets twist and bifurcate, like in so many Spanish villages where a moment's lapse in concentration will lead to a wrong turning down a thoroughfare that will narrow right down to a cul-de-sac. Many of these villages appear deserted during the day: the shutters are down and not a soul is visible. They come to life in the evening. Chairs are brought out and the adults sit on the edge of the street (in Belén there is no pavement so this makes the streets even narrower for passing traffic). The children play and where there are benches, at street corners, groups of older men or women (rarely mixed) will sit and gossip. One notices that all the older men and women are more or less the same size and shape: stockier and shorter

28 July 2009

Birdingextremadura blog by Martin Kelsey The hot settled weather continues and in parts of Spain the extremely dry conditions have created a tinderbox. Big fires have been raging in eastern Spain and here in Extremadura there have been serious wildfires in the woodlands of the Hurdes, in the north-east. Yesterday a pall of smoke was discernable in the sky and a faint smell of smoke. It probably came from fires about 60 or 70 kilometres away. It has been an extremely dry year. The spring rains all but failed. The dry vegetation is significantly lower than last year. Very dry springs and summers here can have an impact on the birds. Little Bustard, for example, have very poor breeding seasons in dry springs. A friend of mine has over 30 White Stork nests on a ruin on his property. This year, for the first time ever, many pairs seemingly abandoned their young, about two weeks before they were ready to leave the nest. Some perished on the nests, whilst other youngsters flew to the ground,

17 July 2009

Welcome to my blog and share with me, through the seasons, encounters with nature in Extremadura, as well as life and culture in this very special part of Wild Spain. Mid-July is traditionally seen as the quietest time of the year for birders in this part of Spain. For those with families we are already well into the school holidays and activities tend to revolve around activities with the children. It is often the hottest time of the year, so the time to get out into the field is first thing in the morning or well into the evening. Yesterday I did just that, making a dawn visit to one of my favourite areas: an area of rice fields, beside open plains and dehesa (the famous grazing woodland) about twenty-five minutes to the south of our house. I try to visit the area as often as I can, which usually means not as often as I would like. It never disappoints, there will always be something of interest there. As I approached the area, in the dusk of first light, a Black-winged Kite sat on a