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Showing posts from November, 2011

Dance Imperial

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Sometimes the best comes last. It was a mid-November day with frontal systems bringing bands of overcast weather and gusts of wind, with brief breaks in the cloud with sunshine. It was just the day to be out in wide-open spaces, on the plains, under the vast dome of sky with its ever-changing tones, vast brushstrokes of whites, greys and blues. This was the sort of day when the big birds of prey, like the vultures, could drift across a whole field of view, with barely a flap, cruising rather than soaring. A few skeins of cranes and geese were moving southwest. On the plains themselves we found parties of Great and Little Bustard and a flock of over a hundred Pin-tailed Sandgrouse busy feeding on a short sward of fresh autmun grass.

We left the vehicle and walked east along an ancient drovers' trail, a Cañada Real, established by Royal (= "Real") decree early in Medieval times. For centuries these were the routes taken by the drovers and their herds of cattle or flocks of…

Cranes and Quinces

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It is as if by magic and although it happens every year, it always amazes and surprises. A week ago the landscape was parched yellow, then we had two days of (very belated) rain and the temperatures dropped to the more seasonal low twenties. There has been an utter transformation with the pastures and plains turning emerald green. Looking closely at the ground, every square centimetre is filling with sprouting grass shoots and germinating seedlings. Out on the plains, there are thousands of the delightfully named ephmeral Autumn Snowflake: a tiny snowdrop-like flower on the most slender of reddish-brown stalks, along with the delicate white Narcissus serotinus, a widespread autumn-flowering bulb of understated beauty: six rather narrow white petals with an orange-yellow cup. Despite being early November, a few butterflies are still on the wing: Clouded Yellows, Red Admirals, whilst the Long-tailed Blues and Lang's Short-tailed Blues persist on the Daphne growing in our garden.

Au…