Category Archives: woodland

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!

The Janus Report. Looking back and Looking Forward.

Feeding the birds at Navasola. Cirl Bunting at our rock bird table

Here are some of the activities we got up to in 2018 and I failed to post about. I will set myself a challenge to produce some more detailed posts on these places around the Sierra Aracena, Sevilla and Huelva that provide good habitats for biodiversity and the places we visited in Ireland and the U.K. too.

For now below is a taster of our year and love of nature.

Arbutus Unedo berries or madrono tree that lives wild and well at Navasola and provides the habitat the two tailed pasha needs.
Two tailed Pasha that loves dung and the madrono tree

We also managed a visit to Cañada de Los Pajaros, a bird sanctuary near the wetlands of Donana. Here there are a wide variety of native birds recuperating and some that can not be released back to the wild. I was lucky to get some close ups of the bar tailed godwit, a wader, that can fly very long distances.I feature one in my novel with a distinct penchant for turning up in many different places.
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Another amazing place was a Celtic settlement on the borders of Extremadura, but as a German friend struggling to remember a long forgotten phrase said, ‘ the flowers stole the show’.

Back in the UK my daughter and I were treated to a Mother’s Day surprise and were taken to Chester Zoo for her first Mother’s Day. The zoo is famous for its breeding successes and there were baby rhinos. Olivia was more focused on her toy giraffe and I focused my new camera on the eyes of so many beautiful,creatures.

In Ireland we visited some good friends at their beautiful thatched cottage with organic gardening, bee keeping, and across the stream to a willow bog woodland. They also do their bit on the beaches nearby. Facing the Atlantic there is so much plastic washed ashore. I was inspired by our friends to get back to my poetry and found a poem I wrote about plastic in the oceans, four years ago.

In between being in Spain and the UK I found a new base for us in the U.K. so we can be a lot closer to my daughter and granddaughter. It is situated half an hour by train from Manchester and close to the Pennine Hills. There is so much natural beauty and history around with the canals and locks. And we must have trees.

But we will still stay as long as we can in our woodland in Spain. We had visitors and went on a heritage train tour along the old mines of the Rio Tinto. Strange beauty where nature reassert itself. Iron and copper is in the rocks here and still being mined close to the old train track tour.
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We went back to the reservoir to check on water levels. We have had so much rain this year, so different to 2017. The reservoir was quite full in the Spring but by November levels had dropped. Who is using it all? Not the beautiful crested lark I photographed nearby or the cormorants, grebes and kites that live close by.

The final part of 2018 has been spent in the U.K.with family and friends. We did manage to visit Kew Gardens and the London Wetland Centre. And a First but wot no Foto! I didn’t take the camera!!! We saw a bittern in the reeds. A Scottish birdwatcher showed us where it was. It was so well camouflaged that even with binoculars it would have been difficult to find. Thankfully he put the hide’s scope on it and it was so clear. We stayed a while just watching.

I have spent some time reading and listening to books. These are three from writers I know who have published theirs. Two are bloggers as well as writers, Opher and Annika. I was going to do some reviews and may do yet. The other in Spanish is a most interesting account of the lives of a Spanish couple from the 1920s to 1990s living in our area of rural Spain. It is written from recordings they gave telling their life and love story through civil war, brutality, dictatorship and their courage, humour and resilience shines through. I will also continue to find a publisher for my nature novel which this year has been on the back burner. But the flame is there.

So it’s goodbye to 2018 and we return to Navasola. I will miss seeing Olivia but she knows the word Nana now among many others including ra ra for the rabbits. She has a keen eye and ear for the garden birds but points to the aeroplanes. And she is walking now! So much change in such a little being. I hope for 2019 we will see the changes needed to protect this wonderful world we live in for future generations of humans and all species.

A very happy and fulfilling 2019 to you all.