Showing posts from September, 2009

Moving the firewood and other autumn tales

Some absolutely superb autumn days with the air crystal clear and without a cloud in the sky. A very good time to move the four tons of encina (holm oak) wood that we bought in the spring and had been soaking up the sun during the summer to covered storage, in advance of autumn rains. There is no shortage of firewood here. Much of this part of Extermadura is covered by the characteristic open grazing woodland, called dehesa . Each of the millions of holm oak trees that dominate this landscape is pruned every ten to fifteen years, with boughs and branches sawn off to open the canopy and to encourage a more horizontal growth. This provides more shade for the animals, keeps the tree short enough to manage easily, will encourage fresh growth and more acorns, as well as yielding huge amounts of wood for firewood and charcoal production. Four tons is enough to last us two winters, but we did a deal with Fernando the neighbour, so that this year he will take half. So a couple of mornings a

Evening at the rice fields

Well autumn has come and we are enjoying a significant drop in temperature, fresher westerly breezes and showers of rain. Yesterday I headed out to the rice fields with our friend John Hawkins. He and his wife, Anthea, have a holiday home close to Trujillo. John is an excellent photographer and many of his bird photos grace themselves on our website and blog. We made our visit in the late afternoon, which even just a few days ago would have been considered an unproductive time because of the heat. Yesterday, it was just perfect with a glorious evening light bathing the paddies and the cleanness of the air ensuring that we had superb views of the Villuercas mountains as a back drop. The pool that I regularly check was very low, and doubtless because of the concentration of fish in the shallows, had attracted several anglers. At first glance it appeared almost bird-less, but as we checked the edges of the remaining flashes of water we picked up a nice variety of waders, no great numbers

Is summer coming to an end?

Coming back after ten days away, the heat that has been such a feature of this long summer still persisted. Whilst I had been away, there had been a fire at the entrance of the village, spreading across several fields on both sides of the main road, encircling a house and the tiny village cementery. The herbaceous vegetation will quickly recover, but I wonder how the trees that were affected will fare. Time will tell. The countryside is a tinderbox and in a way it is surprising that fires are not more common. Most people here take great care. Just the last couple of days, we have had a couple of thunderstorms and there is a slight freshness in the morning, signalling perhaps that the edge is coming off the heat and autumn will be arriving. It is overdue. Birdwise, autumn passage is at full strength here. Out on the plains, semi-deserts now, there are many Northern Wheatears and Whinchats, plus a few Tawny Pipits. When I was out there three mornings ago, I came across Willow Warblers as