Animal encounters of the not so good kind. The cycle of Life.

Animal encounters at Navasola are few and far between. Much life is out there but usually elusive. A bird alights on a branch nearby and then moves behind some leaves and as if it knows you are watching creeps up the tree mainly out of view. Just enough for us to know it is there. So we were surprised and alarmed by a sudden bang at our kitchen window. It was a beautiful Red Rumped swallow. We were all taken by surprise and thankfully after allowing me to take some photos it recovered and flew off. The fat fly was left dead on the store roof.

The park regulations for windows are strange and large ones are not allowed. We would love more light but maybe it would be difficult for birds flying into the glass by mistake. We will get some bird stickers but that would have made no difference to the Red Rumped swallow on its mad chase of a fat fly. I’m glad the bird was only a little stunned and flew off in good feather.

Red rump swallow on battery shed roof after flying into window chasing fly!
Red rump swallow on shed roof after flying into window chasing fly!

Another encounter was the return of the Wood Mouse and with a vengeance in a large cardboard box I had stored some bed linen in. But not for the mouse! After excavating all the bedding I find the cause of the sounds and bitten bedding. The mouse was trapped at the bottom of this deep box .  We decided to lure it with food and straw in a box but that was the last thing it wanted was to take a rest, go into the little box and then we would have humanely released it back to the wood pile. It jumped high, somersaulted and then bit the bottom of the box ferociously. We need a net but I find a bit of cardboard for a ladder out.  It falls into the box and with a quick action I get a lid on it. We release it into the rock garden where it bounds off. Well, was it a lucky mouse……. Two days later I open the front door to an amazing view of a weasel poised on the rock. I can see its back very clearly and for a while it doesn’t move. As it turns its head I can see a wood mouse in its mouth. Whether it was the same one we shall never know. The weasel turned, looked at me and then slunk off.  We probably don’t need to find a cat! Maybe this was the same weasel I saw some time ago. They can live for a few years and we have plenty of wood mice.

Wood mouse trapped in gigantic cardboard box
Wood mouse trapped in gigantic cardboard box
Woody Wood Mouse
Woody Wood Mouse
Churchyard beetle
Churchyard beetle keeping me awake at night!

If you ever have the fortune to come and stay with us do not be surprised to be woken at night by strange creatures.

I told a previous tale of the bat on my birthday when our friends came to stay and were woken by the bat.

It is also not really advisable to keep windows wide open even if very hot. Bat wings are actually quite noisy as I found out myself one sleepless night. Mice scrabbling has been dealt with too and we try a row of bricks by the door and have been given a humane trap. But the noisiest for its size has been the churchyard beetle. Now to wake me fine but not another friend in the brand new bedroom. There was a scream when the culprit showed itself.

Ladder back snake crushed by car wheel?
Ladder back snake crushed by car

A sad tale was when we discovered the crushed and quite dead ladder snake. It had probably been our friend’s car when leaving. These are the friends who have suffered bat visitations and the beast on the roof that turns tiles over. The noisy night criminal is quick to get away and has as yet not revealed its identity. Even though it was me who had gone out in the dead of night with torch it slipped away. This was just as well as it sounded so loud on the roof.  possibly a beech marten, genet or that darned fox. We did come across a  drowned beech marten once. Someone had stolen the top of a water butt and this creature was inside. Hopefully it is another member of that family banging on our roof.

However, the demise of the ladder snake gave a good banquet to these large ants. I had put this beautiful but dead creature on a rock. The next day the ants were carrying off the skeleton with excellent team work skills.

Snake being cleaned up by ants!
Snake being cleaned up by ants!

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As for the bird life a baby swift is saved from the feral cats of the village. There is a centre just out of Seville which monitors swifts and helps in recuperation. There have been declining numbers of swifts, swallows and house martins and hopefully every little helps.

Watching these swallows swooping down the valley or the great hordes of swifts in one village and the house martins in Cabanas might make me think there is no problem but much more needs to be done to ensure survival of these migratory birds.

Red rump swallow recovering from being stunned and ready to fly off.
Red rump swallow recovering from being stunned and ready to fly off.
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Writing stories about nature to create empathy

Having read an article in The Guardian by Andrew Simms I have finally found inspiration and the beginnings of a story which I wanted to write about the diversity of living things around Navasola.  If I can submit some entries for the writing competition by September 1st I will be pleased and there is nothing like a deadline!

If anyone is interested in this website and group of people under the heading The Parliament of Things there is link. On wordpress it only directs to a blog but if you surf the web you should come to a Dutch site. Or it can be found through the Guardian and Andrew Simms on empathy writing.

Could human imagination save us from extinction? | Andrew Simms …
http://www.theguardian.com › Environment › Anthropology
2 Jul 2015 – The Parliament of Things is an innovative writing contest that does just … empathy and the ability to wonder consciously at the world we’re in.

The lovely Lotti in the Sierra Aracena looking at pigs.
The lovely Lotti in the Sierra Aracena looking at pigs.

Maybe try a 500 word story from the point of view of animal plant or mineral!  Or a 2000 word discussion under the title of the Parliament of Things. They are looking for environmental writing from the the point of view of the Natural World at this point in time and the effects of climate change on a species, or thing or river, tree, even oil. What would the Oil say!  Leave me alone I’m a shy guy. I don’t wanna get burnt out. Or I just want to come out and play in all your fantastic motor cars!

All I can offer you at the moment is a pic of a black beauty or a shaggy dog story. Or a Little blackish pig from the Jabugo ham region of Aracena! But I’m working on more!

Zara in the stable.
Zara in the stable.

For the love of the motor car: For the love of the planet! Solar Cars needed Now!

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Developing solar cars by Ford.
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Chinese Solar car.

image image image imageSaying goodbye to an old and faithful friend was hard but the decision had been in the making as the expense of owning, insuring and maintaining 3 old motor cars did not add up. Living in the countryside we are dependent on a car working so that we can get into the nearby market town of Aracena. With work on the house more or less our job at present we also have to go into the builders merchants and other DIY stores for this and that. It is true that we could get most provisions from the village and we have at times done that. It is a one kilometre walk and would need to be done early in the morning in the heat we are having now. The last few days the car had been cleared and was probably feeling more looked after than ever with no general clutter. However it was given a couple of final jobs to do. One was clearing all the metal fencing and rusty barrels from my Huerta. For this we packed the car with as much of the fencing and metal scaps as we could and drove off to find the escombrera or dump. We had been told that it was up the road from the supermarket about a kilometre. We were then lucky to see the sign but then found ourselves on a long, dusty and rutted track. We were relieved when we saw a small lorry coming down and also that it was Manolo of the builders we had had last year, Garcia Romero de Oso. We spoke with him and he looked at the back of our car and said it was a bit further on but wait as there was a big lorry coming. And indeed one did. Am not sure what all the builders make of us as we try to do so much ourself. And when will we finally finish. Similar to when we finally bought the house maybe there will be smoke signals over Aracena. We carried on along this dusty track,mast some real farming of animals with major sheds and at one point a beautiful view down the valley towards Aracena and a view of the castle. The old car valiantly made its way along until we found the top of a hill with lots of rubble. This was no recycling dump known to me, but this was where landfill really happens. We looked around but could not find any area for metals. There was some rubble with metal piled up so we ended up leaving it there. Still no one in sight. The car bravely returned along the bumpy track with its engine getting a little hot in the 30 degrees heat. But not quite its last On Friday morning with the car all clear we headed for the Desguace. The car was finally going ‘bajo’ or under. It seems to the Underworld rather than the high heavens for cars. I drove the other car.  As we drove in I had expected to see compacted bricks of metal cars but instead there was a large parking area and office for parts and beyond a high fence and gates, the old cars were on trailers, stacked up almost 10 by 10. Is this what it is like in limbo and without limbs. All the cars were tyreless, and a little torn apart, probably even more with their vital organs taken first. The reception area was staffed by a pretty spanish lady amid a majority of mechanico men. She had to send out an intercom message to the man responsible as she was not sure about our forms. At this point we wondered if the car had been saved but no its demise was near. With a bit more discussion and stamping it was all agreed; a paltry 50 euros, but we were not keen to bargain, and we kept the battery, we departed in one old green car, leaving our old white one to its recycled fate. Have tried to capture the information about how much of each car is recycled by the desguace branch of Melli. Big car dealers in the town. For the love of the motor car we had a wake in Aracena with tinto verano and cerveza sin  and I researched the Internet on how much progress was being made with solar cars. Cars the sacred cow of the West and now the East. But it seems China has started to produce solar charging cars. And about time too. From Naomi Klein’s research for her book it seems to me now that the western world is hanging on to fossil fuels when it is no longer necessary. She reports how companies like Shell have divested from renewable research and development and as we all know headed out to get more oil from the Arctic. Have the Chinese regained an ancient wisdom through suffering Dickensian pollution from dear old carbon? I think I could afford one of their solar cars. It would be ideal for our life here in the country and not keep costing the Earth. It is also much needed in rural economies like ours that seem so dependent now on the motor car. Without vehicles the economy of this region would grind to a halt. The building vans, trucks, delivery vehicles, market town services, pharmacies, tourism, car repair garages and sales; so much now depending on the combustion engine and not the donkey cart. In the past many people here lived a very poor life: Subsisting off the land and with a lot of inequality. Now in Spain there is still the effects of the crisis and youth unemployment and a lot of campaigning against the Austerity economics and policies in place. How will ordinary folk be affected if the power needed to drive the economies we know isn’t replaced with renewables? How long can we all afford to live off fossil fuels ? And if we do how much infrastructure breakdown will happen because of climate extremes and disasters? How will the Spanish pueblo survive? Can we put into action NOW all that we can do to keep our planet a safe place for all creatures. For the love of the planet let’s move on from the motor car.  Roll on Solar and maybe save a little fossil fuel for the classic cars to have a summer outing. ( Coming in another post : the classic cars and motorbike of the Sierra Aracena Classic car society )