Showing posts from June, 2016

Of a swift and nightjar

White-rumped Swift (Mark Johnson) Undetected by our terrestial senses, there was evidently a vast resource of tiny prey items, an "aerial plankton"all around us on the crest of the ridge, as witness the surging groups of House Martins, rising to explore the eddies and whirlpools in the updrafts of air, where millions of tiny invertebrates were being trapped. With the hirundines, were the scythe-winged Common Swifts, pushing barracuda-like in a more predatorial mode, easing parallel to the contour, with a determination that contrasted with the House Martins' cheerful randomness. From our vantage point we looked down and across a vast savannah of dehesa : the dense stippling of holm oaks over the undulating golden-blond pastures of mid-summer, a managed woodland that has become a landscape, typifying, indeed defining, Extremadura.  Solar-powered vultures used nothing more than the thermals of hot-rising air to lift them hundreds of metres into the air, giving them an