Showing posts from October, 2010

Gems in rocky places

During our supposed low season, I often do short pieces of work for the charity Save the Children, for whom I used to work full-time. This usually involves trips of about a week or so to give training and mentoring to teams of people managing programmes of work in different parts of the world. The last few weeks have seen me in South America, the Middle-East and South Africa. It is very different from life in Extremadura, keeps me in touch with former colleagues and gives me the chance to meet some wonderful and inspiring people making a real difference to children's lives. Of course as far as life and birdwatching in Extremadura is concerned there really is no such thing as a low season - there are always jobs to do in the garden and always great birds to see. During my brief stopovers here I have managed to pick olives for curing, cleared up old olive suckers for burning and started preparing the vegetable garden for the winter. The autumn is an exciting time for birding as the m

Autumn sunshine

There is a real sense of the turn of the seasons at the moment. I had been away for two weeks and returned to find the days noticeably fresher. There had been some rain on the day I returned, but since then we have enjoyed several days of clear blue skies. Although there has not yet been enough rain to start to turn the plains green, a light purplish sheen betrays patches of Autumn Crocuses, whilst in the Monfragüe National Park the banks have the delightful Autumn Snowflake with spikes of Autumn Squill mixed with them. There are still lots of hirundines: dense flocks of House Martins feeding over the crags and Red-rumped Swallows in the garden. We also got three glimpses of White-rumped Swifts in the park. Taking my good friend Mark out on the plains we had superb views in excellent light of Great Bustards feeding nearby and each fence seemed to hold Whinchats and Northern Wheatears. The harvest is well underway on the rice fields and where the stubble is ploughed, hundreds of Black-h