Category Archives: Biodiversity

Whirlwind August

This August we have been in Spain, Portugal, and then the UK and in various counties, Oxfordshire, Lancashire, Northumberland, Yorkshire. Holiday time for the grandchildren has been busy and also catching up with friends, family and a wedding after those two quiet years.

And so this is a quick post to catch up with myself and with the blog on the last day of August.

Water still flowing at the 12 spring fountains in Fuenteheridos

Finally family can visit but now has to be August because of school holidays. Water is becoming problematic even in our ‘wet’ Sierra. Some villages now have water shortages. The water levels are low and there is no way to pipe water from the reservoir. So Seville gets plenty and no restrictions but many here do not. Fuenteheridos springs still flowing but down in the important wetlands of Doñana so many lagoons are completely dry which is devastating for birdlife there.

Climbing the olive trees

Exploring Navasola and the local villages where each have a municipal pool with good showers and a bar. ‘Encanto’ the film was a bit of a theme. Did this link us to ‘building a house with the help of the village’!

We were also lucky in Portugal to see wild dolphins ‘playing’ off the Algarve coast along the Ria Formosa. A first for me. They stayed awhile and it was as if the whole beach were given a spectacular show. Sorry no pics just in the ‘inner eye’.

There are real dolphins out there

And we loved the gecko in our bathroom.

And it was also so good to have so much open air music; in the local village squares, in Tavira and back in the UK at Cropredy with Fairport Convention. I finally get to use my ticket after a two year wait.


Bee eaters visit Norfolk, build a nest in a sandhole and at least two babes have now fledged.

Courtesy of RSPB webcam

In London German Shepherds ‘parent’ a rescued kitten.

Time for a snooze

I hope August has brought some happiness and holiday time in spite of all the news and for us the problems with drought and wildfires in Europe. It is time for governments to act on climate change issues. Our grandchildren deserve to inherit and enjoy a nature rich world where extremes of climate do not destroy lives.

With best wishes to all and I will catch up soon!

A song for the golondrinas and some of my House Martin Survey, Cabanas de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal 2015 to 2022.

 I began my house martin survey in 2015 and each year try to look around the once welcoming fishing village for signs of their nests. Of course now Cabanas is more of a tourist village by the Ria Formosa and the buildings are less kind for the ledges needed. Once there were more house martins on the ‘frontline’ but now most nests have been deterred or destroyed. In one place above various shops and entrances to the small indoor shopping area there were 35. This year there are about 5.

However behind the Spa shop there is a good stretch and the birds can build their mud nests there and avoid the complaints of a mess as a long platform was put up to protect the ground from the delicacies of house martin poo.

Building next, March 2015 Building nest March 2015
Close up, building nest, March 2015 Close up, building nest, March 2015

 

Cabanas Sunday 008

 The art of building a nest must somehow be passed on between the generations. Proximity to water and mud is important. Each beakful is carefully positioned ready to stick to the next.

House martins seem to like to choose the same spots and just refurbishing a nest site will mean that they can get on with the business of mating and laying the eggs from March.

High winds can delay their arrival and the parents to be will be pretty exhausted by the thousands of miles they have flown across Africa. So having to rebuild from scratch or search for another site delays their ability to breed. However many of the parents will try again for a second brood. If these can fledge and build up reserves before the end of September they might make the long journey back.

From the RSPB and SEO in Spain there are requests to help these birds by keeping nest sites in situ over the winter. Of course it is illegal to destroy any nest that is in use or being built.

This year in Cabanas I found 100 nest sites in the Spring. The school still provides for many under the eaves and also in the older part of town there are more. The town council appears to have an interesting extra wall front behind which there were quite a few.

But all the new builds seem very unfriendly to these Spring visitors. In our ‘beco’ there have always been a small community and the trad design of our flats does provide the ledging. But many are prevented from returning by netting and plastic hanging down. More unsightly than the nests.

Song of a small golondrina or andorinha ( spanish/ portuguese)

Dear humans, please leave our nests alone,

And like you

We do like to be beside this seaside.

The sand and tides turning help us out

With just the right consistency of mud

We build our homes close to the sea

Where we can almost have food for free

So many insects to shout out about

Making us and our young strong

And ready for the long flight back.

High above the many folk below

May sometimes stand and stare

In a kind of wonder at our flight

But know too little of who we are

And why we have to come so far.

From June through July and August the first broods gather on the phone wires as if at school all in a line and getting ready for the flight of their life.

From past reading there is little known about where these birds go back to in Africa and house martins might still be too small for satellite tracking.

We believe they flock together to fly together across the Sahara but we do not know if the parent birds lead the way.

Here’s to the wonderful house martins of Cabanas de Tavira and the joy they bring some of us. I only wish more people would notice these incredible birds and make a stand for their presence here among the tourists.

* We think here in Spain and Portugal that golondrina or andorinha are used for both swallows and house martins. But in Latin – Delichon urbicum

Young house martins gathering in Cabanas de Tavira 2020.

—————–

Thanks too to Katharine Otto for making the first move to try and post by phone. This is my first attempt too. So apologies for not many photos but some recent ones from the phone! And oh, some more added from my library!

More on the survey later in the year. At present we await family for a holiday and have been enjoying nights out in Tavira with the free concerts. The band last night called SAL formed in the pandemic and this is their first year of playing live concerts. It is with great relief to find some of the normality and conviviality back again in our lives.

 

Feeding young in August

Feeding young in August

P1080939

High wire young ones in August
High wire young ones in August

P1080953

One Swallow does not make a Summer

Thankfully there is still water in the well and the pond. The birds love the pond and all the trees, wild flowers and other plants love that there is water deep within the ground. We have had the highest temperatures on record for June in Spain and also in our area but there are now cooler nights. Seville has faced temperature in the 40s much earlier than normal. Young swifts have been falling out of nests in the heat.

Among the Navasola summer visitors are red-rumped swallows. Can you just detect the red in this strong little bird that survived striking fast onto our window? There are plenty of swifts around the monument of Castano De Robledo and here the temperatures have not reached 40 plus yet. This should have given these young a chance to fly out of an overheated nest. In order to keep these amazing migratory birds off the threatened lists their young must not just survive the early heatwaves here which have forced them out of their nests before they are ready but they must fly thousands of miles within weeks of leaving the nest. Lots of insect food is needed to help grow muscle strength too. And yet again there has been some glyphosate spraying of verges poisoning not just the wild flowers but all the surrounding insects and those that fly into the area.

For the young wolves in the north of Spain there have been raging wildfires in one of the highly populated but endangered wild Iberian wolf regions in the Sierra Culebra. Just the wrong time as the young wolves might not have the ability to move far from their dens to get away from fire and smoke.

And the good news. The European Union has just agreed a robust plan for the restoration of Nature. Biodiversity strategy for 2030 – Environment – environment.ec.europa.eu/strategy/biodiversity-strategy-2030_en

The European Commission’s proposal for a Nature Restoration Law is the first continent-wide, comprehensive law of its kind. It is a key element of the EU Biodiversity Strategy which calls for binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters.

And I have finished War and Peace. An epic and an insight into Tolstoy’s mind and Russian issues in the 19th Century. But has helped me understand a little more about the awful war raging in the Ukraine.

And for the first time in years I have read a book I could not put down. I read Bewilderment by Richard Powers within a day. And was star and earth struck. The book beautifully describes how a scientist searches for life way out in the stars while his son struggles to deal with the knowledge that life on our planet is threatened with extinction. The boy feels the loss of many species that have already gone forever. He draws them and wants to save what we have left. His father creates stories of possible life on faraway planets.

And recovered from Covid. So far no long term effects but was really tired and wiped out.

So the glass is still half full. There is still time to act and save our wonderful world.

An attempt at drawing water with light and shade with wild scabious.

We need lots more swallows to make a summer and a planet full of different life forms to make a better future.

Lets hope these EU actions will lead the way.

With best wishes and blessings from Navasola

COP 26 Not one degree more. Not one species less.

Ni un grado mas ni una especie menos.

Not one degree more. Not one species less.

( From a Spanish placard at a young person’s climate demonstration in Spain)

As many of you know my blog has been about my own individual nature journey at Navasola, a mixed woodland valley in the Sierra Aracena in southern Spain. This led me to wish to be involved in more action to protect this amazing world of nature and so, sitting in a bar in Spain in 2016, I joined the UK Green Party.  I became interested in the way members create policy and later decided to join the Wildlife and Habitats Policy Working Group. This has been another good learning curve on collaboration with others, research and constant evolving of policy framework in line with the philosophical basis of the Green Party and to do our best to create ways forward to protect and regenerate the Natural World. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/philosophical-basis.html

I decided to begin this ABC summary of what I consider as the main principles that have driven the thinking behind the policy to share with you and I welcome discussion.

A for Abundance.  Let’s have a world where there is an abundance of wildlife for its own sake but which we know can delight and lift our own spirits.

With such decline in natural spaces for wildlife we must address this with a desire to have an abundance of habitats to support the regeneration of the natural world. Wouldn’t it be a joy to see more green spaces, more birds and even more insects as so much depends on these tiny creatures. Rivers full of newts, fish, otters and beavers. All places to be 100% nature friendly is the key to solving many aspects of the climate/ecological crisis, inequalities and our own increasing mental health challenges.

B for Biodiversity.  Let’s have a world where there remains an incredible variety of plants, insects, and all animals.

Well-functioning ecosystems support a variety of species. Regeneration of ecosystems including more wetlands, woodlands, moorlands, clean rivers and oceans with farming and gardening that supports wildlife will help all species, including homo sapiens, adapt and be more resilient to the effects of climate changes.  From increasing the vast variety of native wild plants and trees to our coast and ocean beds being full of the variety of life that is possible when not over exploited or polluted. Regenerative farming and fishing are key to preventing more nature depletion.

C for Connectivity. Let’s have a world where wildlife can expand into more and more places and we can connect with nature.

Recognising that nature knows no borders and needs more space we must ensure good connectivity through a Nature Regeneration Network. This should help the need for wild species to expand. Where do all the young birds go when new territories and resources are needed? Nature needs space and knows no borders. We all need access to nature and to understand more about our interdependence.

D for Dedication. Let’s show the willingness to achieve a world rich in nature for all future generations human and otherwise.

To achieve nature rich environments our species must now dedicate all of our actions to this aim. All land use must consider how to improve outcomes for nature on that land. Not elsewhere.  All business and public institutions must address the effect of their activities not only on carbon emissions but also on nature depletion. Not just local but all supply chains throughout the world.

Our dedication to regeneration of nature will be to accept a legal framework for the Rights of Nature to exist, persist and evolve. And nationally and internationally support the introduction of Ecocide as a crime against humanity and nature. How much longer can we accept the polluter just pays as in the recent vote in parliament re the constant over flow of sewage into our rivers? We need a better legal framework to truly protect the natural world into the future.

E for Enjoy a world abundant in diverse Ecosystems with Equality of access and opportunities.

The full policy and background research paper will be available on the Green Party website in the near future. In the magazine Green World- Jonathan Elmer, Green Party spokesperson for the Natural World wrote about the significance of the policy.

‘It represents a fundamental shift in emphasis, a movement away from traditional site-based conservation to systematic regeneration of nature. 

A recent report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee concluded that since 1970, there has been a 68 per cent decrease in the population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish across the globe, and in the UK, 15 per cent of species are threatened with extinction. It also noted that of the G7 countries, the UK has the lowest level of biodiversity remaining.’

It is time to act to ensure enough is done to regenerate nature not just in the UK but all over the world. We now need to find practical ways to bring these policy principles into action.

Let’s also hope that COP 26 will be a turning point for global co-operation although constant vigilance and action will continue to be needed for the protection of our living Earth and all species on it.

, , ,

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