What’s a Clouded Yellow?

Lots of them here in Southern Spain and are considered indigenous to here. So European too! Must have flown a long way!

A Tramp in the Woods

An immigrant species from North Africa. Not especially uncommon, sometimes you get really good years and they are everywhere but I have never photographed them. I have seen them about but not when  I had a camera handy.

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow

Clouded YellowThis is a female. She is really beautiful when she opens her wings. Golden yellow with a black border. These pictures today are just a tease.

This is the new mission. There is an added problem this time. These Butterflies always settle with their wings closed, you only see them open in flight. We have got to have those open wing shots.

Clouded Yellow

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Firsts………..Pop goes the weasel, half a pound of strawberry jam for half a pound of plum and who murdered the tomato.

The past week has been a week of firsts. It was the first time I saw a weasel in the wild. He or she  was very close to my feet and I must have startled the poor creature into stopping still as it was madly chasing a lizard for lunch. Lucky for the lizard, my feet helped it get away, that time. For a few seconds the weasel was absolutely still and I could see its face and most of body clearly. Full identification is unclear as I did not see its tail, which I am told if it had been a stoat would have had a black tip to it. It was very small and about a year ago Josie, Theo and I had visited the British Wildlife Centre and been intrigued by the weasels running fast around wire tunnels. It seemed very similar to those.

The next first was ….. Sorry, I have never made jam  before. It is plum time in the Sierra Aracena. We have found some plums on the Finca and picked some but a few days later ……..all gone.We think some badgers or the wild boar as the birds only peck at them. Perhaps they have learnt to bash against the tree. Friends also have many plums and I was given a large box of juicy yellow plums so I have experimented with pickling some, drying some in the sun, and jam. The plum jam recipe that worked was easy and just seemed to be throwing the same amounts of plum and sugar into a pan and stirring and waiting and stirring and waiting… However the taste of this jam has met with approval and we have done an exchange for a jar of strawberry! My next batch will not be so easy to exchange as I went a bit mad on the ginger.

The final first was to eat my first ripe homegrown tomato. With all the building work and the need to prepare an allotment patch in this wild and overgrown place I feel pleased that my friend’s tomato plants are now beginning to show fruit. I am also hopeful about the seeds from Lidl supermarket’s butternut squash. After a lot of earth clearing and moving. I also moved some of the wild bugloss which did try to hurt me with its stinging hairs in exchange for being given another place. There is at the moment a lot of it on the Finca. Is this part of the wild bison work that might be needed in the wild?  Pictures of the small garden by house and the Huerta, vegetable garden I am preparing in one of the chestnut fields. And of course the tomato.

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Heaven’s Home

This is a lovely poem from another nature and art blog. I love the ‘tipsy moth’ from A woodlandrose blog. Didn’t write a poem for my daughter’s birthday so hope she enjoys this one as she wanders around the Lake District in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, perhaps. Happy Birthday Josie and I will have to think up a wildflower poem for you aka the Alice Oswald book you gave me some birthdays ago. And in memory and gratitude to my father who took me on so many journeys into nature, camping and learning how to put up with the midges and Mosquitos !

Awoodlandrose's Blog

ladders to the sky

a blue jay’s piercing cry
the robin’s egg cupping blue
a tipsy moth’s free flight
the morning glory’s climb
out of the dark night

an acorn realizing it’s an oak
puffing sails that lean
into a swelling sea
island bells that chime
on a soft summer breeze

a firefly pulsing star light
stars pulsing fire light
a lovers’ kiss as they meld into one
the last glance of day
towards a blushing sun

ag ~ 2014

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Fly by butterfly, butterfly fly by!

Much of my work over the past few weeks has been helped along by constant pauses to watch the butterflies so close by along the path. There have been quite a variety but the Cardinal took pride of place and was not bothered by a sweaty woman with a wheelbarrow.image

Other butterflies have been the yellow ones, clouded yellow and the cleopatra, and the wood and meadow browns along with some sightings of the two tailed pasha and scarce swallowtail. These have not allowed me to photograph them just yet.

June and July wild flowers on path up to the Era at Navasola.

June and July flowers on path up to the Era. The walk up to the Era is another of my favourite places and can be seen from the windows on the south side of the house. The era is where any grain grown would have been threshed way back in the past. The bit of the sculpture shown was done by the previous owner and is now rather worse for wear but still a lizard! The flowers shown are really loved by the butterflies and I have been using the book shown to try and identify accurately. The path and now wildflower meadow on the era is full of common century and field scabious, possibly knautia integrefolia and not knautia arvensis. It is quite a study to try and look very carefully at the leaves and shapes of the flowers. It is amazing the variety within a small area.

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Field Scabious
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The era, the old threshing area with lots of stones underneath the wild flowers and now butterfly heaven!
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Part of Margaret Claddo’s lizard sculpture at back of the era.

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Butterfly and wild flower books to help in identification
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Common Centaury

A short walk into our Finca Navasola in June.

The entrance to Finca Navasola.
The entrance to Finca Navasola.

imageHere are some views along the path from the front gate through Navasola East to the house. It is now looking more like a house and although a lot of work is still to be done on the inside I think I can start clearing some of the building rubbish. We are still waiting to install the solar and then to sort out the wood burning stove and hot water for the cold winters.  The trucks have to deliver along this path so we are hoping this will be successful this week.

At present quite pleasant and in the mid 20s for June.  There is pleasant shade from the chestnuts in full leaf and bloom, the olives, madrono ( arbutus unedo) and different oaks.

The house at Navasola: June 2014
The house at Navasola: June 2014

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View walking down the hill from the gate. Chestnuts and pines on other side of the valley.
View walking down the hill from the gate. Chestnuts and pines on other side of the valley.

When we first saw the Finca over 10 years ago I fell in love with this first path through the woods . We did not really fall in love with the old house and it is still our main struggle but the landscape of the Finca was quite interesting and varied so that is why we bought the place!

We  love the subtle differences and the different types of flora over such a small acreage. The flower shown was the only one seen of its kind on the main path. It has withstood being brushed by builder’s trucks over the last week. It is a type of thistle / knapweed.F rom the Guide to Wild flowers of the Mediterranean I think  it is Mantisalca salmantica, once labeled as a centaurea. In English part of the knap weed family. Navasola  has a tremendous range of biodiversity for a small acreage.

PostScript . Solar panels have been delivered to the gate and we had to carry each one ourselves to the house!   Will post more on that later. And butterflies galore, I particular large cardinals.