Showing posts from August, 2015

Late summer movement

Wood Sandpiper (Martin Kelsey) Despite a recent respite, it has been one of the longest hottest summers we have had here in Extremadura. It has stifled activity during most of the day, so if one does venture out into the afternoon heat, there is little reward. Animals have retreated to the shadows, motionless: the only sounds are cicadas and bands of Bee-eaters trooping overhead. Be out at dawn however (which at this time of the year is already well after 07.00) and it is deliciously fresh and the changes afoot can be watched in comfort and clarity.  For several weeks now, waders from the Arctic tundra and boreal forests and bogs have been slipping into the Iberian Peninsula. The first were Green Sandpipers back in June, but now by mid-August, there is an arrival of other species. Gorgeous Wood Sandpipers, smaller and more refined than the Green, with daintier bills and delicately marked are here in good numbers now. Unlike the Green Sandpipers, which tend to bunker down on the

All with the Sierra de Gata

It was faint and difficult to place, an incense-like aroma sweet and resinous that I detected as I stepped outside at first light. There was a strange sullenness to the sky. Others too had sensed something. In our nearby town, Trujillo, concerned residents had climbed to the highest point in the town, to the granite walls of the castle which afford views of the landscape befitting one of the largest Moorish forts in Spain.  They had reported nothing unusual, but by now news broadcasts carried the information that we can sought. A large forest fire had started overnight in the Sierra de Gata, an area of great beauty in the extreme north-west of Extremadura. Two communities had already been evacuated and the windy conditions, coupled with the tinder-dry vegetation of drought-laden summer (seven weeks with no rain) meant that the fire was burning out of control. It was the same wind which had carried that faint dawn whiff of resin, for it was smouldering pine timber that we could smell