Showing posts from November, 2009

A very late Woodchat Shrike and displaying Black-winged Kites

Another two superb days in the field, with some surprises and memorable sightings. The day before yesterday we ventured out on the plains to the west of us. It is curious how varied the landscape is at the moment in terms of "greenness". After the long dry summer we have had very few days of rain this autumn and most of the open ground has the barest of flushes of new growth. Farmers are still having to provide supplementary feed. Yet to the north of Trujillo there is a zone stunning in its autumnal beauty of emerald green grass and yellow crucifers in bloom. Our friend that lives there is convinced that it is thanks to some localised showers that missed the rest of us. Most of our route was through drier terrain. At our first stop we found two groups of Great Bustard (37 birds in total) and watched a sky seemingly full of a flock of about 100 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, which split into a myriad of smaller parties (twos and threes) circling and calling. A Carrion Crow was an unu

Bathing Black Vulture

After being away for almost ten days, it was great to be heading north of Trujillo again with two guests to enjoy a day in Monfragüe National Park. Despite a brief shower en route and some rather threatening low cloud in the morning, the day got progressively brighter and warmer. Stopping first to view the iconic cliff face at Peña Falcón, what struck one was the almost complete absence of vultures in the sky. The reason was simple - all were waiting for the air to warm, because the rockface was full of birds. Indeed marking the skyline, the perimeter, as it were, of the cliff, was a row of vultures, each equidistant from each other. As the sun broke through the cloud, many spread-eagled their wings, tilting the angle to maximise the surface exposed to the warmth. We progressed through the park and had a lengthy stay at the wonderful Portilla del Tiétar. A skein of Cranes flew over as we arrived. It is such a peaceful spot and their trumpeting echoed across the gorge. Vultures circled

Quinces and Garden Warbler

One of the joys about living here are the quince trees. We have several dotted around the garden and although like everything here they have suffered in the drought, so many of the fruits were much smaller than normal, I picked enough over the weekend to make 28 jars of Quince Jam and to freeze four kilos for cooking next year. Quinces look a bit like large yellow apples, but they cannot be eaten raw as they are almost as hard as rocks. In Spain the favourite preparation is a Quince (or Membrillo ) "cheese" : a stiff, amber-coloured jelly which goes brilliantly with real cheese, traditionally a good Manchego. We found an easy recipe for Quince Jam which has become a favourite for our guests. Claudia has also invented a delicious dessert of stewed Quinces, which is superb with a dollop of cream. So most of what seemed like the last weekend of summer (ridiculously high temperatures for the start of November) was spent stirring boiling jam in the preserving pan and filling jam j