Category Archives: Biodiversity

February poem for Earthweal: Time for Hope and Healing for the well being of all on earth

crag martins find a ledge to rest on at Castaño Del Robledo

Black cap in Castaño Del Robledo

Large peacock, full wings

February in Fuenteheridos

Breathe in, Breathe deep, its Imbolc* time

Bright skies beyond the blue bring warmth

To Southern earths where sap will rise

No snowdrops here brave bitter blasts

Wild hoops of rarest daffodils defy a different death

A peacock butterfly with wounded wing

Spread out to bathe upon a post

Did it feel the bite upon its wing?

Which hungry bird has lost its meal?

Burnished buzz of black on florets of pink.

Black cap birds peck at rotting fruit

Crag martins search for homes in holy walls.

All push back Winters’ cold short days

As Spring begins its hot embrace

And rain falls further and further away.

In that other place.

I have written this poem and chosen some of our February sightings around Fuenteheridos in the Sierra Aracena, Southern Spain. The mountains are around 500 to 600m above sea level and winters can be cold. The area has reasonable biodiversity and I hope it will add to the spirit of Earthweal’s aims to help us all connect more with nature.

  • Earthweal is a poetry forum dedicated to global witness of the Earth’s changing climate and its effect on daily life. Here is a place to report that news in the language of the dream, that we may more deeply appreciate the magnitude of those events. It is intended as a place for all related emotions—love and rage, grief and hope, myth and magic, laughter and ghost whistles—and belongs to the entire community of Earth as mediated by its human advocates.

Sarah Conner invites us to write seasonal poems and the first is inspired by Imbolc in February.

‘*Today, I want to think about * Imbolc. Traditionally celebrated at the start of February, Imbolc is a festival of new life and new beginnings. The name derives from “in the belly” — the first stirrings of life, seeds starting to sprout.’

I am also linking this to Dverse who as a bunch of great poets and their Mr Linky inspired me to play around and write poems publicly! And to Lillian who is hosting the OLN. I hope she and all of you can meet up soon with your families. A big Spanish Abrazos Fuerte to all.

https://dversepoets.com/category/openlinknight/

Check out Dverse if you want to be inspired by a variety of prompts and poets.

Nature Needs Nurture: 7 Years of Writing and a Janus Report for 2021

My first photo on first post. I know now what it  is! (This close up could be useful for the course on botanical illustration but as yet we cannot name the beauty that is that berry!)


It is 7 years from when I first started this blog, January 2014 and as it is the last day of January I am looking back and wondering how to go forward.

7 years ago I gave the blog the catch line ‘nature needs nurture’. I was both amazed by my new experiences of living in the Sierra Aracena in Southern Spain and dismayed by how much was being lost. My wonderful discoveries of the vast biodiversity of Mediterranean regions kept me busy with key wild flower books and local bird books. My eyes and mind felt opened with a sense of wonder at this incredible range of life.

picture of navasola
Before the final building work.A view of the house November 2013

I have tried to record my experiences with photography and words. I found being ‘just botanical’ didn’t seem to attract a readership. I hope I have managed to add in the personal as it has been a personal journey for me but I have not always added in the nitty gritty of daily life and relationships and the strain when you live at a distance from family. These Covid times certainly emphasised that and the dilemma of no easy and quick return to be with family.

January 2014

January 2015

The growing understanding of how our natural world is at such a dangerous point has made me think and read more about climate and economic factors. One of my interests because of living in a rural community has been the delicate balance between how we farm and the possibility to be environmentally kind. There is much more discussion and action for those who own land to become stewards for nature. However, at our farm or finca we do not have to worry about finances in the same way as younger people and those without a supplementary income. There is no money in really farming our chestnuts, although we try and collect them each year. It is a back breaking task and not possible for just me. With paid help and about 200 chestnut trees we have never earnt more than 300 or so euros. It is true we could diversify and also be more self sufficient and would be so if younger. How do we go forward with our woodland home while under the shadow of no longer being European citizens, health and virus issues and climate changes.

January 2016

In 2020 Borrassca Barbara arrived as one of the strongest storms in years. The ancient chestnuts had branches torn from them all over the area. This also affected the chestnut harvest and many did not get any income from their chestnuts in a year where it would have been so welcome. There is a lot of ‘healing’ work to be done with the trees but also the longer and hotter droughts affect the size of the chestnuts too. My plan is to have a mosaic of different areas to help with the biodiversity of plants and pollinators and in the hope this will help the birds too. Our pond has also kept enough water in it over the long summer months but we have at times topped it up from our underground water.

Iberian Frog

Our enjoyment of our woodland finca and the area is in the wild flora and fauna and I hope to go forward with more writing about this and being involved in more local conservation issues. The wildfires nearby brought this home to many people in our area. Eucalyptus and other pine plantations spread fires more quickly than native cork and holm oak forests.

January 2017

Looking abroad now there is so much more scope for hope especially if the Biden administration can manage the climate crisis well. Unfortunately I hope that they will also handle all the ‘denial’ and misinformation with careful skill. I think I wrote when Trump came into power that the way we look after our planet should be a cross political party effort. I have closely followed American sites like Eco Watch and seen the many environmental protections for both wildlife and human societies stripped away . Well, with shamans entering the heart of democracy and ‘using’ the antlers of a dead beast I hope that many more may see into the heart of our existential crisis; a disconnect with nature and a disconnect with how we perceive what is right action in the 21st century.

January 2018

7 years on and there seems to be a growing movement to protect the world we live in. I hope that we will be able to put the restoration of nature, wild and biodiverse places at the centre of all our actions. We have to hold our democratic governments to account as they are the best we have and they must act in the interests of future planet worth living on for all.

January 2019

In David Attenborough’s recent book ‘ A Life on Our Planet’ he presents his witness statement to the importance of biodiversity as the heart of maintaining stable climactic conditions. Restoring nature and conserving biodiversity to create optimum conditions can help mitigate effects of climate change.

He uses some facts at the beginning of each year he remembers

1960 World population 3 billion, Carbon in atmosphere 315 parts per million, Remaining wilderness 62 per cent

2020 World population 7.8 billion, Carbon 415 parts per million, Remaining wilderness 35 per cent 

One point about biodiversity importance Attenborough noted was how whales create the conditions for an abundance of sea life. There is a delicate balance that we started destroying very early on in our economies of free enterprise. His book is full of the warning signs which were apparent from the 1960s and the repeated failures to act. But Attenborough has a two visions for the future, one where there will be a poor outcome for all species, including ourselves and another where we may just turn the tide and will be able to maintain a planet with a more stable climate conducive to all life. Restoring nature is at the heart of this.

January 2020    ( I celebrated biodiversity with my photos so not all taken in January!)

And for 2021

Snow arrives as a first in all of our 8 years of living at Navasola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is about the importance of woodland in Spain for both economic activity and biodiversity.

Summary – In Spain the woodland coverage is the third largest in Europe with 18 million of hectares and sheltering over 6oo different species.

En España, la superficie forestal (es decir, lo que estrictamente no es agrícola ni urbano) ocupa 26,28 millones de hectáreas, lo que supone el 52 % del territorio nacional. Su superficie arbolada aumenta con una tasa anual de 2,19 %. Después de Suecia y Finlandia, España es el tercer país de Europa con mayor superficie forestal arbolada (en torno a 18 millones de hectáreas).

Según el avance del Informe de la situación de los bosques y el sector forestal en España (ISFE 2017), en nuestro país apenas existen bosques primarios (no intervenidos) debido a actividad humana sobre el territorio durante siglos.

En cuanto a las especies que nos encontramos, el 55,5 % de la superficie forestal arbolada está ocupada por especies de frondosas, el 37 % por especies de coníferas y el 7,5 % restante está ocupado por masas mixtas.

Los bosques y otras formaciones vegetales en España constituyen un importante hábitat para la biodiversidad, ocupando el 68 % de la superficie terrestre protegida y albergando 615 especies silvestres bajo el régimen de protección especial (40,2 % de ellas son aves y 27,6 % son especies de flora).

I hope everyone is coping with our current surge of infections and very bleak January weather. And a big thank you to all who have followed me so loyally and with so many comments and interactions over the years. I think I will continue in some form and we still hope to have good enough health to live at Navasola for a few more years. 

Poem 26 Hope for the Forests of Hope.

Hope for the Future, Forests of Hope.
BirdLife International joins 20 leading conservation groups – the ‘WC20’ ahead of this weekend’s G20 Leaders’ Summit to warn that COVID-19 highlights need for urgent action – and urge that investing in nature costs a fraction of pandemic response, while driving green jobs and tackling climate change.

Bird Life International supports ‘Forests for Hope which you can read about on their website and support through my sponsorship challenge. I hope by the time I post this that the G20 will actively support the work needed to restore our devastated natural world as we are all suffering from this destruction of ecosystems.

I have based my 26th and final poem on one I wrote for an exhibition of my friend Ruth Koenigsberger’s paintings last year. Another friend translated it into Spanish. Many people seemed to identify with that special feeling when we get a good glimpse of a wild animal. Her painting of the young owl was the poster for the exhibition. Next year we hope to have another exhibition as her bird paintings have taken full flight into a glory of imagination and colour.

Poem 26 is 26 words from this poem in English, folllowing with 26 lines for many of the creatures I have missed out. ( The amount of lines is a challenge with the new block editor, how can it be so clumsy?)

Wild Witness

I see you on my terrace;

You see me see you.

Your eyes hold onto mine.

You move through the trees of my life,

Leaves fall.

Our Navasola Forest of Hope


Twice now a female wild boar has looked me in the eye.

Both shortsighted but her sense of smell much better than mine.

She moves on,with her tribe following, to a safer distance.


The wild deer like the badger, the fox and the mongoose, leave their scatological deposits.

A reminder that this is their home here.

The genet too used our old roof as a skyscraper latrine.

While bats and owls went bump in the night to stoke our dreams with fur and feathers.


Birds hide away from us but woodpecker feathers lay lifeless on the ground.

Golden Orioles sing in the tall alders and willows above

Ruth’s orchard where pen, paint and patterns create smiles.

A buzzard or a booted eagle hovers.

Bullfinches and hoopoes pass by for weekend retreats.


Butterflies varied in their passions delight us with a feast of fritillaries, festoons and swooning swallowtails.


Insect life seems happy buzzing, clicking, whirring. There are no nasty chemicals nearby. .

Beetles abound from rotting tree trunks but we look out for one that likes our linseed protected timber roof.

Paper wasp nests hide in the eaves, hornets hang around near the ivy on an old oak. Wasp like waists to die for.

Dragonflies often hover near the porch ready to catch the large flying ants.


Our favourite porch pets are the regular reptile visits of

Psammodromus, the white gecko and the lizard of jewels.

Sometimes we find fire salamanders and the ladderback snake under old tiles and in wood piles.

We see so much life from the porch, the window and on quiet walks.

All imprints on our being.

But who are we on theirs?

As they look and stare, even glare at the imposition of our being on their path,

I hope they will dare to pass by our way,

Forever.

My Challenge
I am not by nature a fundraiser but I felt compelled as the lockdown began and many fund raising events couldn’t take place to make mine a poetry marathon. There was the 2.6 challenge for charities affected by the London Marathon not taking place. So I decided for my sins to write 26 poems, some with 26 words and some with 26 lines. Unfortunately the 2.6 fund raising page was time limited and the page no longer works. It has taken me 8 months to get to my finishing line.
Thank you to all those who have sponsored me for the RSPB 2.6 challenge page and for others who have begun to sponsor BirdLife International.
I strongly believe that if we could begin to restore nature and change our relationship from exploitation of the natural world to a sustainable and equitable future there will be hope that we can continue to live in a nature rich world that is much healthier and happier.
This weekend BirdLife International which begun in 1922 for conservation of birds across boundaries has coordinated with other nature organisations to present the urgent need to stop the destruction and speed up restoration of our natural world at the G20.

BirdLife International helped form Wildlife Conservation 20, or WC20, uniting 20 of the most prominent conservation NGOs at the forefront of protecting wildlife and ecosystems.
Patricia Zurita, BirdLife International’s CEO, said: “COVID-19 is a wake up call to everyone on this planet. Now is the moment when we must value and invest in conservation by developing sustainable nature-based economic stimulus packages. BirdLife believes access to a healthy planet should be a universal human right and this urgent call complements our 1planet1right.org campaign to make this so.
Otherwise, the natural world, on which we all rely, will not be able to protect us and safeguard our current and long-term well-being. Investing the recovery funds in nature will protect not only our economies but also our health.”
On this 21 and 22 November in Riyadh, as the G20 meet, they must step up to the plate to address this crisis.”

If you wish to help me finish my challenge the link for my fundraising page is below.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/georgina-wright7

Poem 22 and 23. The Stork brings our Rose

My plan was to finish my poetry challenge by October 4th when the cancelled London marathon is run in a limited way. But plans can often go astray particularly when babies decide it is their time to be born. We welcome to our family the tiny Jessica Rose. And for my next two poems I will honour her with a stork and rose poem!  That will leave me three more to go, which are almost ready. I apologise too for the link to my fundraising page as without me knowing it had a time limit. Thank you to all those who have contributed or tried. I will put a final link when I have finished  the 26 poems to Birdlife International and explain the work they do.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A  Haiku for Jessica Rose

Stork’s beak with small sprog

Or sprig of eglantine rose.

Brings Spring to Autumn

There are wild roses at Navaselva and they delicately entwine themselves up some of the young trees. Often they grow on the edge of a tree line looking for light. The eglantine rose for me of Shakespearean fame, Rosa rubiginosa, or the dog rose, Rosa canina find places to flourish on our finca and have effective thorny defences. Rosa canina was known for possibly curing dog bites. There may be other types too and I will now need to investigate next Spring. It seems there are many roses by many different names and types of leaves to distinguish their species.  Perhaps the wild rose can be symbolic of the need for women to be both tough and tender as highlighted by Maya Angelou. Certainly pregnancy and birth can be tough times and then the tenderness of love for a new human and the need to protect.

As for storks I have to be honest I have not seen them near our woodland. But there are some that nest in the local villages. And further along the road to Portugal there are many storks that nest on the pylons and the trees by the river. When we visit the Doñana wetlands in January there are 100s of storks nesting in trees and plentiful supplies of food in the marshy borders and rice fields along the Guadalquivir river.

It seems that the legends about stork have ancient history from Egyptian and Greek times, although there seems to be some confusion over whether the spiritual birds of birth and rebirth, carrying souls were cranes, herons or storks. Another interesting stork legend was the association with oregano, a well-known healing herb with antibiotic qualities that storks were seen with in their beaks. Oregano grows abundantly at Navaselva and I swear by its healing properties.  I use it for my gums and for any sign of a sore throat. However, the stork in the haiku has a sprig of a wild rose in its large beak!

The main stork legend grew in Northern Europe when storks arrived in Spring and were seen as signs of hope and family fidelity. Hans Christian Andersen’s story ‘The Storks’ consolidated the tradition we love to keep of the stork bringing the baby.

I have adapted a poem I wrote some years ago about storks based on Yeats ‘The Wild Swans of Coole’ into my 26 word format.

This drawing of the stork comes from an art class with my friend the artist Ruth Konigsberger whose paintings and drawings often accompany these poems. The classes began before lockdown and have started up again and bring us all a joy as she is not just a wonderful artist but a very skilled teacher. Our focus was parallel perspective and dark and shade.

Poem 22 Storks in 26 words

Among what places the storks will build

Their hopes, on pylons or spires,

With God’s desires fulfilled

Where wonder never tires.

All prosper where they perch.

Stork in parallel perspective

Poem 16: The Madroño Tree and the Two Tail Pasha; 26 Poem Challenge.

Greetings to all and to Dverse Poets on their 8th anniversary. Am linking this to open link night with Mish; https://dversepoets.com/   And really pleased to find Earthweal and their challenges with a nature focus; https://earthweal.com/

Life coming out of lockdown in Spain has been interesting and busy in many ways as we can now decide to go out more and visit friends and family.  Some normality but also it is very strange and strained too. We hope all is going well for so many of you in many different places.

There has also been more work to do on the finca as we finally been able to have help from others. There have been some blessings in our retreat from society but  sadness too as we are personally  touched by loss and at another loss as we watch and read too much incompetent managing of a health crisis.

.This poem on my 26 poem challenge is structured around my form of 26 lines, 12 for the tree and 12 for the butterfly and two finishing lines to comment on both. It is based on our experience of having to cut back some trees from the house and knowledge of butterfly habitats and the plants and trees they need.

The Madroño Tree and the Two Tail Pasha

Arbutus Unedo, Strawberry tree, Madroño

Today is trim time for trees

But not scissor light snips

More motor power and deep cuts

Ear muffs on for heavy chain whirs

If you could only keep your fine fans

Of branches away from our earth tiled roof

I would not feel the hurt of habitat loss

The screams of the leaves as they dash

Against the cool cement white rendered walls

The birds will not be pleased

Nor the butterfly that some call

The foxy emperor or Pasha.

 

 

Two Tail Pasha, Charaxes jasius, El Baja or Cuatro Colas. ( 4 tails!)

Here you must lay your eggs

To hatch into the worm with two horns.

 

 

 

How do you know this tree is best?

You do not need a nest

To carefully care as each of yours

Must hatch alone. Make its own munch

Through tough leaves.

Tough lives taken at the point of a beak

Or hang cocooned for days

Till horns transform, two tails of wings emerge.

So bright, so fair, move me to gasp

At change so rare.

 

From dark places, burst leaves, break wings.

Reach out for life, lived briefly, in the light.

 

Two tailed pasha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the ongoing climate crisis my poetry challenge is to help conservation charities restore nature and prevent biodiversity loss. We must have more trees and wild places. It will help us too.

I know there are a lot of struggling charities at the moment but if you can support my efforts I and theRSPB/BirdLife International would be grateful. I am halfway through now and every little helps me write more!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/georginas-26-challenge-i-am-going-to-write-26-poems-about-the-wild-flora-and-fauna-here-on-our-woodland-finca-in-spain-i-will-post-these-on-my-blog

 

26 Poems. Poem 9. Vultures thrive in Andalucian Skies

 

 

 

 

 

Vultures

My first encounter with this most alarming bird

Was from a rickshaw, bald heads gathering around a corpse

A photo taken, a memory forgotten, no remorse

Until those eyes met mine and I finally heard.

Perfectly poised to penetrate death

A holy land where human harm leaves only dog

To scavenge the remains of a very manmade mess

The vultures gone to save the sacred cows distress

Slow painful death by inner unknown toxic smog.

Perfectly poisoned by human kind

And then a vulture of a different kind arose

Above the canyons of an ancient world made new

Condors with wingspans lifting in the thermal flows

Photos to remind us that now they too are few.

Perfect flight, sight, smell to search out death

Within a classroom Africa’s vultures I undermine.

Love of a feathered mate counts the human cost

To pass exams, context, effect, unthread that line

Where one key word shouts out what has been lost.

Perfect partners raising young

Here, the vultures rise again in Spanish skies

Mostly griffon with pointed feathered wings

Black, maybe, if really large, the vulture kings

Alive, hanging on that human thread that tries.

Love protecting life

>

This poem is about my own encounters with vultures, from my early years in India, where I took many sights for granted as vultures were so common then and such perfect scavengers. In my middle years I had a wonderful trip with my daughters to Peru where we saw condors in the Colca Canyon. In my teaching years the poem Vultures by Chinua Achebe would haunt me, not because of the vultures but because of the concentration camp name which none of our students had heard of. English lessons then would become history lessons too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vultures_(poem)

Vultures are endangered and face many threats, electrocution, poisoning, loss of habitat, and in India because there was no awareness why the vulture population was dying off until the link bewtween drugs given to sacred cows was found to be lethal for vultures.

Here in our Andalucian skies we can see vultures above our house. Some may be the very endangered black vultures from the Aroche colony, or more likely the griffon vultures, which from one of the links seems to suggest there has been some conservation success because of the joint efforts of different groups and laws to protect these amazing birds.

https://www.4vultures.org/2019/01/29/a-2018-survey-of-griffon-vultures-in-andaluc%C3%ADa-reveals-the-population-continues-to-grow-across-the-region/

The poem has been constructed according to my 26 poem challenge for the conservation charity the RSPB who also support Birdlife International. There are 26 lines but the italicised lines are also 26 words in praise of the important place vultures have in nature and in human lives. The feral dogs in India that have moved in to take over the place of vultures are more dangerous to humans than vultures have ever been.

If you wish to donate to my challenge the link is below.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/georginas-26-challenge-i-am-going-to-write-26-poems-about-the-wild-flora-and-fauna-here-on-our-woodland-finca-in-spain-i-will-post-these-on-my-blog

April Showers and Walks around Navasola West

Our splendid isolation has included not having any internet connections for long sessions throughout April. It now seems a bit better so  am hoping this is an opportunity to post and also catch up with you all across the world in these strange and difficult times. I hope and pray all is well and will be well  but know that we all may be affected in some way at some point by knowing someone whose life is deeply affected and changed by this pandemic. Much support and care is going to be needed for each other and the natural world we do depend on.

The rain here is blessing us with water if not wifi. The mobile phone company call the problems ‘atmospheric’ meaning I guess, it is again those powers beyond human control.

Here are some photos of our walks around Navasola.

We have taken this time as an opportunity to rediscover some of the wilder parts of the finca. It has often seemed like an adventure and I have been to areas I have never seen before. We tried to follow some of the boundary stone walls too and found ourself clambering over some of the stones the wild boar have knocked down. Boars know no borders too. Last week we saw a small group, yearlings probably, going about like a teenage gang, from my sanctuary window. At first it was interesting to watch them, scratching backs against the rocks, snouting around by the path. Then one crossed the patch by some of my roses and some wild gum cistus and lupins I have been nurturing. I opened the window and hollered before even thinking of picking up the camera! They shot off so I hope they know to steer clear of ‘my’ rock garden. To be fair till now this area has always been left unploughed by the boar. Too much human smell.

Walking anywhere at the moment there are some lovely wild peonies. These are not bothered by boar activitity and as we do not plough or clean the fields intensively there are more and more peonies each year. They are known as the queen of herbs and do make a fantastic and natural display. The insects also love them. Another of my favourites is the yellow palmate Anenome and again there are often pollinators within and other insects that seem to half eat the petals into ragged shapes. I have never seen one completely destroyed and they are very delicate looking flowers. It is hard to get    a good photo of all the flowers in a patch. The yellows are winning out at the moment with the yellow rock rose or cistus,halimium trifolium, the Spanish broom, gorse and another yellow plant that likes the drier ground by the studio hill.

 

Palmate Anenome

 

The studio is an old container that the previous owner installed for her sculpture work. It is on the south west side of the valley and is a warm and light place to work in in the winter. The old house used to be very dark and gloomy. However, the studio, as it is metal, is a hot box for when the temperatures rise. This area has lots of different wild flowers, some tiny white ones, tall asphodels and there is always a lot of bramble, sarsaparilla and some stunted fig trees.  Last year we discovered the orebanche and a very tall but pale type of orchid.

 

 

 

Along this stretch of the valley side are lots of rocks and tall pines. It is not an easy to cultivate area and is now how we like it. Quite wild. There is a badgers den within the rocks and a dangerous drop and caves here where possibly other creatures live too. Above this rocky recess are the pines that have grown very tall but there is also a lot of madroño, viburnum and the tough wiry and thorny sarsaparilla. Some of it is like a jungle with hanging vines of vicious thorny strands. There are also some stands of oak. At Navasola there are several types of oak; mirbeck, faginea, and pyreneus. There are also cork oak and holm oak. This stand is the quercus faginea or lusitania, Portuguese oak.

I have also been clearing some paths on the other side of the valley, Navasola East. Here I can now walk above the old era, the place for threshing grain, and through a very rocky olive grove. Here the olives have been planted many years ago but are very majestic and mossy, with amazing trunks. And hiding holes. We have just discovered a wild bee hive at the base of one. It is all very green and mossy on the rocks and the stone walls have lots of different ferns.

Solomon’s seal around the chestnut trees

Further down towards a Navasola East there is the pond we worked hard on restoring last year. The wild boar had managed to wallow too hard in it and put their tusks into the lining. Now they aren’t allowed in! There are plenty of other places for them to find water and wallow. Our prize animals at the moment are the two Iberian water frogs we have spotted. More on these in a later post as I will devote a poem to them. It’s there in the picture, camouflaged with its thin green,reed like stripe down its back.

I am going to try and complete a challenge for one of the wildlife charities. In the U.K. This is called the 2.6 challenge instead of the London Marathon which usually raises a lot of money for many different charities.It was supposed to take place on April 26th and of course couldn’t. Charities are suffering from lack of funding now and not able to undertake some of the work needed. 26 or 2.6 is the magic number. So instead of running round our finca, which is difficult anyway I am going to try and write 26 poems on the different species that live around Navasola. There will be a Just Giving link to sponsor me if anyone wishes for the RSPB and Birdlife International. So hopefully my internet will work well as I will post 26 lines or words for each poem!
Just setting myself up so I have to get this done!

What’s That Bird? Photography and Wild Birds. Donana Wetlands in Southern Spain.

I have few words this month and although I hope for everyone to be safe and well I know that there is much worry and suffering for so many. Our life here goes on much the same but without the social contact and nature trips like this one from February. We set out on our annual pilgrimage to Donana wetlands where we hope to see great flocks of flamingos. One of our favourite places en route is by the bird sanctuary of Canada de los Pajaros. Many storks gather and nest here. So we stopped to see storks flying high together in a very bright blue sky, nesting in the pines, and making their wonderful bill clapping sounds.

After being quite stork struck I wandered up the path. There was bird poo all over the prickly pear, so I looked up. There were lot of large stork nests. I saw a bird move so got the camera on it. I thought it might have been a young stork or egret. The first photo told me very little but the next few meant that I had got on camera the birds that had eluded me last year.

Yes, indeed, the beak gives it all away and I finally got some good photos of a spoonbill.

Hope this may have made you wonder a little bit about nature and the amazing diversity of birds and beaks. For everyone lisening and looking more at the wonderful birdlife around us. Lets cherish the birds and keep them safe too with good conservation of the habitats they need.

Rushing to update now as this all ran ahead of me and published with a mind of its own. More on Donana and explorations around Finca Navasola next time. Love to all.

A Biodiversity Birthday. 6 years of Navasolanature! Looking back and Looking Forward.

The New Year is well under way and I can only wish that there will be hope and happiness for us all and wisdom for those in power who can make the changes our struggling world needs. January is  named after the Roman God Janus, a god with two heads. One head looks back at the past year and the other to the future. So I have decided to look back at my photos showing some of the biodiversity at Navasola and close surrounding woodlands. January is also my blogging birthday and I am now celebrating 6 years of celebrating biodiversity! My tag line began as ‘ nature needs nurture’.  And it certainly needs this now more than ever.

Buff the buff tailed bumblebee, a character in my novel.

I thought of writing  a children’s story about all the animals that come to tea near our house or sometimes into it. I was inspired by the huge grasshopper on the old wet teabags in our kitchen, although at the time it gave me quite a shock. However, I have not fully finished it for a January deadline. Of course, the main inspiration is Judith Kerr, who recently died and the ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’. Writing for children is not easy and I admire fellow blogger Annika Perry with her beautifully illustrated story ‘Oscar’s Quest’. (See links at end of this post.) My first two photos are of two of the main characters in my novel. My novel is about the journey of some animals from our woodland to the distant North.  I am still struggling to revise it after advice on point of view and writing for young adults. I now feel it is very timely as so many young people are now so concerned and more aware of the threats to biodiversity and the effects of climate change for us all. However, I have added and updated and divided the novel into two and hope to find some interest in publishing it this year.

Abe Apio the bee eater character in my novel.

 

With our return to Navasola I am pleased to hear so much bird song and calls in the evening. It is also very wet underfoot and such a change from even two months ago. Water levels have risen and there is some water in the well now but we will have to monitor closely.

Hoopoe visiting Navasola in Autumn

My decision for 2020 is to try and cut my own carbon emissions. This is going to be very difficult because of our need to travel between family and our home here. Here, in Spain with our solar power we can almost live carbon free for electricity and hot water. But our first flight has cost me a quarter of a tonne in carbon emissions. I am going to try and write about this as a new journey this year. My desire to do this and inform myself more is because of the tragic loss of wild species and habitats and climate changes makes this life threatening for so many creatures and for our grandchildren’s future.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, has implored governments to ensure 2020 is not just another “year of conferences” on the ongoing ecological destruction of the planet, urging countries to take definitive action on deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis.’ ( The Guardian’)

So for January I have also thought about diet and signed up to Veganuary. Over the past 40 years I have been vegetarian and pescatarian. However vegan is difficult for me as I love my cup of tea with milk. I also love yogurt and some cheese. I will try and post more on that and have got a freezer full of my chestnut harvest recipes. Once upon a time the little fellow below was eaten as a delicacy in the province of Extremadura. This species was on the verge  of extinction. This one turned up on our porch for his own tea.

Ocellated or Jewelled lizard

Travelling by car will also be a difficult one for my carbon reduction journey. We really need a car when living in the Spanish countryside so hopefully we will try and keep mileage down. As yet we can’t afford a new car, electric or hybrid. However, hybrids are the top selling cars in Spain at the moment. There is more political will here too as the new government has appointed a Vice President to be in charge of environmental issues and transition to a greener economy. Let’s also hope that the Doñana wetlands can be well looked after.  I posted on this last year and the issues over water management. I also think it is important to visit these areas and to try and encourage ecotourism so habitats can be saved and considered important throughout the world.  Am not sure that eco minded people should cut down on eco minded tourism. There are many difficult calls.

For the sake of all these species and for the future we must ensure a greener and different kind of economy that will secure a world that protects and restores.

Link to Annika Perry’s blog and her new book.

Introducing Oskar!

Green October

October has been another busy month back in the UK. I decided to attend The Green Party Conference and see if politics can be done differently. I enjoyed attending policy making for Food and Farming. This was a learning curve and along with the discussions about the Green Party’s policy group there was an opportunity to listen to a spokesman from the National Farmers Union. The farmers are aware of the challenges they face and not just from Brexit. Some farms are experiencing lack of water while others not far away are in flooded areas and excess rainwater was being pumped into the sea. The NFU have committed to zero carbon by 2040 in their industry and have the means to do so by sequestering carbon with more hedgerows, trees and other methods. They have a plan.

Another interesting speaker on farming was Sue Pritchard, an organic farmer near Hereford and chair of a RSA report on farming today which involved discussions from a wide range of people in different communities.https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/public-services-and-communities-folder/food-farming-and-countryside-commission

The conference plenary sessions were well organised but slow in some areas but most of the main changes to policies and new policies were quickly voted on. I felt that evidence based planning was important. All policies are voted on by all Green Party members who attend the two main conferences.

There was discussion on how to address the climate emergency and the need to reduce emissions by earlier dates than 2050. Many young Greens want 2025 but most Green Party planning has looked at how to practically achieve this by 2030. And even with this there are still ‘gaps’ which need to be addressed. At least the Green Party has plans and an understanding of the complexity of this and the need for all levels of government to be leading the way. I think they do try to do politics differently with a lot more democratic involvement of all members and striving for keeping kindness at the heart of debate and differences of opinion.

I was in London, my home town when Extinction Rebellion were protesting and I went to see what was going on. This group has created a major shift in awareness as to the urgency needed to address the climate crisis. In Spring they brought central London to a bemused standstill. David Attenborough , our nonagenarian also was broadcasting about the drastic changes affecting nature because of human activity. This, along with Greta Thunberg and the school climate actions has created a new awareness that these issues must be addressed now.

In a recent poll conducted by clientearth it seems that the environment will be important in how people will vote in a general election. ‘Of those polled (54%) said climate change would affect how they would vote, with the proportion rising to 74% for under-25s. The poll also showed support for fossil fuel divestment, with 60% of people thinking banks and financial institutions should ditch investments in coal, oil and gas.’

Extinction Rebellion want the government to tell the truth about the effects of carbon emissions, declare a climate emergency and create citizens assemblies to find local ways forward to create the actions needed. I went into London on the Tuesday and there were less crowds than the Monday but still a carnival atmosphere with determined intent and roads closed around Westminster. Their methods may at times be criticised but I do wonder who we will finally criticise the most if we just drift on with our ‘same old’ ways of running our lives.

 

  • A creative ploy by Extinction Rebellion. Each tree has an MPs name on it and you could ring them and invite them down to collect their present!

I decided to look more carefully at reducing my own carbon emissions. There are many websites about this and often are carbon offsetting ones. However, I had got the open university free course on this so will try their calculator and look at this more carefully on another post.
It certainly will not be easy. Although I could claim my woodland which is allowed to be rather wild, green and vibrant could offset our flights home. One tree in its lifetime may capture 40 tonnes of carbon. We have over 200 trees and lots of wild growth too and birdsong.

But offsetting is not enough. We have to reduce to below  2 tonnes of carbon each.
The average European according to one source will emit about 8 to 10 tonnes of carbon a year. Flight frequency, mileage covered by vehicles, the kind of food we eat can increase or decrease our emissions.

As a vegetarian with little dairy this may save me almost 2 tonnes of carbon. A flight home of about 1000 km is about 0.5 tonnes. The train would be 0.09 tonnes of carbon. As I think I have said before the trains are so much more expensive. From 300 to 800 euros while a flight can easily be below 100 euros and the aviation industry benefits from fuel subsidies. Another problem area that we have little control over yet is how to heat our homes in a carbon friendly way.

How can this dramatic increase not cause many problems?

Change must happen but there is still so much silence and inaction. There are some things we can and must do ourselves and there are others that governments must work on and achieve global cooperation on.

The Guardian is committed to reporting the climate crisis and has many informative and well researched articles from all around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greta Thunberg says ‘ listen to the scientists’. It may be complex but the scientists, the Green Party and now British farmers know we will face too many difficult consequences if we don’t take the right actions now.

And for our natural world the crisis has been happening slowly but significantly with the combination of loss of habitat and climate change creating unpredictable and extreme weather conditions along with wildfires and flooding.

The State of Nature report 2019: loss of nature since 1970 ‘We need a strong new set of environmental laws to hold our governments and others to account and to set long-term and ambitious targets. Only a robust approach to environmental protections and law making can deliver this for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.’ From The National Trust

The Royal Society for Protection of Birds also comments and calls the 2019 report ‘a wake up call’.

Species and habitat protection, forests, wetlands, all will help as are natural ways of capturing carbon and maintaining a balanced ecosystem .

Who we put in charge will matter as there have been many wake up calls, many broken promises and little well informed and coordinated planning and action. And when in charge of our democracies they must be held to account.