Showing posts from December, 2010

Wonderful olives

If you walk along the narrow lanes or tracks in the small range of hills where we live at any time from late November through to January you will be bound to hear the "thwack - thwack" of the traditional olive harvest. Families will be out in their small olive groves, using long poles to hit the branches of the trees, so that the olives fall onto nets placed on the ground below the tree. Apparently the olives drop more easily once there have been a couple of hard frosts. In the large scale commercial olive plantations elsewhere, the harvest is mechanical, but on the small family holdings, often on quite steep slopes, harvesting is really only possible by hand. The purists do not even use poles, preferring to collect the olives in their fingers. That way there is less damage to the twigs (especially to the buds) and the olives suffer less bruising. But this can be very time-consuming when one is collecting the quantities needed for oil. A skilled harvester can however use the

The storks return

We were sitting having lunch last Friday at a pavement cafe in the main square of our local town Trujillo on Friday, enjoying a wonderfully mild day (in the garden bees have been at the rosemary flowers). Our son Patrick looked up and spotted a White Stork standing on its nest, built on a platform beside a renovated tower (see photo). The nesting storks on the tops of the old buildings around the town's square are one of Trujillo's many attractions and the souvenir shops sell T-shirts with storks depicted. However, this was 10th December. It comes as a surprise to many of our visitors when I tell them that the White Storks are back on their nests in Trujillo by Christmas, for further north in Central Europe the storks are arriving only in early spring. The fact is our local White Storks are partial migrants, with many of the adults staying here all year round and occupying nests from mid-winter onwards (indeed in the lower altitude flood plains nearby, storks can be seen on the

Celebrating cranes

This weekend saw the second Crane Festival in Extremadura, organised by the government (the Junta de Extremadura) and held at the Crane Information Centre of Moheda Alta, right within the most important region in Extremadura for wintering Common Crane, indeed the largest concentration of crane in the whole of Spain. Through guided excursions, activities for children, lectures as well as an opportunity to enjoy local food and watch folk dances, the idea is to celebrate the winter spectacle cranes here and to further increase the awareness of both local people as well as visitors from many other regions of Spain of this wonderful bird. The cranes themselves do their bit. Travelling around the area over the weekend there can hardly have been a moment when the evocative trumpeting of the cranes could not be heard or there were not parties of cranes in the sky (see the attached photo taken by a guest David Palmer). They formed a continuous background for us. My job was to take groups of vis