Showing posts from March, 2013

Water, water everywhere

The figures and the contrasts speak for themselves. Last year we were lamenting because of the long winter drought, this year March is ending with a thorough soaking. In Spain, rainfall is recorded in litres per square metre. Last year 0.3 litres/sq.metre fell in March here in the province, this year by 27th (i.e. not counting today's drenching) we had received 144 litres. It has been the wettest March in 44 years and well over three times the average. The rivers are in spate and I have never seen the reservoirs as full as they are now. Indeed, I guess that all must be pretty much at 100% capacity and are releasing water. The ground is sodden and I am unlikely to get anything done in the vegetation garden for a couple of weeks at least. For farmers needing to plant crops now there are big worries. On the plus side, after last year's dearth of early spring flowers, the landscape is blooming. As well as the sought-after orchids of course, there are many other gems. I

Spring bounces in

The weather in spring is always fickle, but perhaps never more so than this year. In the last week I have worn mid-winter gear, with woollen hat and gloves, on one day, gardened in shirt sleeves another, sheltered from biting winds and torrential rain and soaked-in the sunshine. After last year's drought, we have enjoyed a bumper dose of rain this year and when the sun has shone, the beauty of spring in Extremadura has been breathtaking (see my photo above of the Gredos mountains). So spring has been bouncing around a lot, throwing at us a full repertoire of weather, but steadily also ringing the seasonal changes of nature. Some of the winter visitors left dramatically and spectacularly... the exodus of the Common Cranes over the last few weeks marked by spiralling flocks and purposeful skeins, whilst others drift away, seemingly a few birds at a time - gradually the winter numbers of Lapwing are lessening. They are replaced by the spring migrants, some like the Barn Swallo

Rainy day birds

Extremadura has the notoriety of being hot, dry and dusty...but that is not the experience enjoyed by those who come and explore the region at any time from October through to May. We actually get quite a lot of rain here (50% more on average than the annual rainfall of eastern England), but it is highly seasonal. Almost none falls during the summer and the wettest seasons are autumn and spring. The result is that for more than half the year Extremadura is emerald green and with the generous rains we have enjoyed since last October, we have indeed had the pleasure of two "springs" with a carpet of flowers greeting the arrival of the cranes last authumn and the glorious show around us at the moment. Mostly the rain comes as showers, but recently we have had day after day of almost continuous rain, with leaden skies and blusterly winds. We have three wonderful and enthusiastic guests at the moment: a mother and her daughter from the United States and their old friend, th

Bird Fairs

The first was the British Birdwatching Fair (now in its 25th year, known worldwide as simply the Birdfair ) and it remains the most important, indeed the benchmark for those that have followed in its wake. There are now bird fairs of different shapes and sizes all over the world. Here in Extremadura we have just celebrated our eighth. We were the first region of Spain to organise a bird fair and this annual event in the Monfragüe National Park has become the biggest and most important in Spain. I was at the first meeting convened to plan the event. The date for the fair (start of March) was deliberate. We wanted the event to take place at the beginning of spring, before the onset of the main arrival of birders coming to visit Extremadura when all of the local businesses would be busy providing accommodation and guiding, but still at the time when spring sunshine could attract local people to visit Monfragüe and enjoy the sight of the nesting vultures and other b