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Latest from the Alpujarras

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Offline quentin

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« on: January 18, 2014, 17:23 PM »
As we are finally "enjoying" a day of rain here in the Alpujarras I thought I'd spend a moment in front of my computer in order to mention some of my latest sightings. Firstly though I must say how glad I am to see some rain at last! I know the UK has had probably more than it wants and there are some issues regarding the environmental impact of such quantities, but we have seen scant little of the, um, transparent stuff here. Today there has been a significant amount, over 11mm according to the excellent Lanjaron Weather Station that I found following a link on http://www.spanishhighs.co.uk/ . Tomorrow also looks promising for we "rainophiles". I tend to get a bit edgy if we don't get any wet days around this time of the year and we have had very few of them so far this winter. In fact winter only seems to have been here for about a month. The trees hung on to their leaves until the last minute and the lack of snow on the southern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains didn't make it obvious that we were into December, let alone January.

One of the aspects I like about this part of the world is the unpredictable nature of the climate here. One day can be like today, grey, cold and wet and the next can be warm enough to stroll about in a T shirt and shorts. (Provided you can stroll fairly quickly.) Just this week I have seen lizards (Spanish Psammodromus) scurrying about in the garden so I assume they don't hibernate completely, more like long-term dozing until spurred into activity with the advent of some warmth. On the same day a very bedraggled Red Admiral butterfly was loitering around the flowers of the Strawberry trees and, even today, bees are active on the Rosemary flowers between the showers.  Of course elevation is a major factor - I'm writing this in the relatively balmy lowlands at 600m but looking out of the window I can see snow lying on Sierra Lujar, the mountain that rises to 1800m between me and the sea. I suspect any reptiles up there will be reseting the snooze button a few more times before they emerge.

Bird-wise things have been predictably slow. Chiff-chaffs, Black Redstarts, Blackcaps and a surprising number of Song Thrushes are spending the winter here. I've also seen a wonderful male Hen Harrier on a couple of occasions over the last few weeks and only two days ago a Golden Eagle appeared, close enough for our three dogs to notice as it circled around above the house. The previous day we had all driven up into the mountains hoping to see an eagle of some sort as we were suffering from EDS. (Eagle Deficit Syndrome) We weren't successful but seeing a goshawk and simply being there was pretty good compensation.

One thing that always raises my spirits and offers hope in the bleak mid winter is the sight of the first Almond tree in blossom. Yesterday, as I was making my way down through an olive grove I came across a solitary Almond tree bedecked with exquisite white jewels. It actually made me laugh. Not ten minutes of rolling around on the floor laughing but a definite spontaneous out-loud  chuckle. They are such wonderful trees, often almost black and seemingly dead, then suddenly they are covered with a delicate bridal veil of white or pink. Beautiful. As the year progresses so the blossom will appear higher and higher up the mountain slopes providing great photo opportunities with snow capped peaks and impossible blue skies.

Also this week I was very surprised to see two poppies  - another great plant that has a very long flowing period.

Well the good thing is that the winter solstice is long gone so evenings are drawing out a bit and, as I'm writing this within sight of Morocco (on a clear day), I know it won't be long before migrants and wildflowers appear. A Crag Martin just attracted my attention as it flew past the window and, as there is break in the clouds, I'd better get out with the dogs so they don't return from their afternoon walk dripping wet, waiting until they are safely in the house before shaking water all over the furniture.

Happy New Year everyone and may 2014 be a wonderful year for wildlife!

« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 17:56 PM by Clive »

Offline Clive

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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2014, 16:22 PM »
What a great  :sign:   !!!!!

Thanks Quentin, that was a good read and nice to hear observations from other parts of Spain that are so near yet in many ways so far away.... look forward to more nature news from your neck of the woods...


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