Here as promised are some of the photos taken recently on short vacations to Cabanas de Tavira on the Eastern Algarve along the estuary and lagoons of the Ria Formosa. The area is a protected national park along the sand dunes and beaches but unfortunately some of the cliff side walks are privately owned.
We enjoy an escape to warmer weather and an earlier spring than in the Sierra Aracena even if it is only about 100 miles away from Navasola it is at sea level. Although it is the Atlantic Ocean it is warmer here because of the Gulf Stream and the climate is more Mediterranean.
Walking around the old fort in January I came across this almond blossom tree full of blossom and teeming with bees. It was very noisy as well as beautiful. 3 weeks later in February the blossom had gone and you can just see in the photo of the same tree the beginnings of the almonds.
How can we complain about the rain when it is filling our well and the pond. Will we be able to be self sufficient in water? It has to be the most essential part of our life here as there is no municipal water supply. That means the only body that can cut off our water supply is Mother Nature.
Here are some photos of the Finca dripping wet in February.
Our next post will be about our escape to the Algarve and a walk around the fort at the edge of the town of Cabanas. It is our favourite place for bird watching and although only about 100 miles from the Sierra Aracena spring is in full bloom and the swallows have arrived.
February on the Finca has seen the rain fall almost continuously for a week. However, on Sunday there was a little sunshine and wild violets were spotted. Thanks to the rain I have finally finished reading Macfarlane’s book about his journeys to wild places around the British Isles. Wild is a special word for him but as he ends up describing many different kinds of experiences of the wild it is interesting to think more about our own relationships with the wild. Here for February are two small wild things; the violet and the chaffinch. The birds in the woodland are so wild and wary I was delighted that even just one came to my table! In Spanish there are two words for wild : wild animals are ‘salvaje’ and wild plants are ‘sylvestre’. How might this division of meaning affect attitudes to the wild?
The Finca has so many of these beautiful blue berries and they glisten in the rain and mist.However, one of the bushes was discovered with one flower beginning to blossom. See picture below. So even,on the Finca we can find signs of Autumn,Winter and Spring together! We finally discovered the name of this shrub Viburnum Tinus or more commonly Laurustinus. Then in one of our old English newspapers we came across a lovely picture of the garden variety. It has been harder to discover the variety of mushroom but it does bear a resemblance to ones that are referred to as hallucinogenic and toxic in our Spanish Mushroom book! Very mixed weather patterns at present but not that cold.
Our trip to the Algarve, 100 miles away but down from our 720 metres in the Sierra to sea level, showed that Spring is in the air. Very warm and even hot in the sun with the almond blossom, bees and birds all very busy. I will feature pictures of Portugal later as I will create a new page for our observations there and along the Ria Formosa. On the road down we did see evidence of Storks in nests and flying around. Possibly just arriving to nest. Apologies for no pics of the storks yet. Might need to update camera for that!
My first project this January is to survey all the chestnuts on the Finca. The majority of these were planted in orchards over 100 to 200 years ago. In order to start the process I have decided to name the different parts of the Finca: Navasola East, Navasola Central, and Navasola West. Some might prefer more romantic names rather than similarities to Hounslow on the Piccadilly Line! However, this has worked for me as I have now explored and counted all the major chestnuts of Navasola East.
Let’s meet some of these elderly but prolific producers of chestnuts. Here are some of the ancient trees or ancianos in Spanish in the field referred to as la parcela afuera de la cancela. This is the plot of land just outside the main gate. Many of the trees have had branches fall this winter. In the past the trees would have been managed but in the latter part of the 20 th century have been neglected and it is now a task for us to decide how to continue. However, the trees do their best to survive inclement weather and produce new growth.
Each tree has a different shape and quality and sometimes very clear facial features! More of these later………. The trees can be of varying heights but many are squat with more spindly crowns of branches reaching for the sky. In January, without the leaves, the shapes are fascinating, and the trees create a stillness as all is sleeping within, dormant but getting ready for the spring. From May to December the trees work hard and for their age still produce an abundance of chestnuts. The trees work to survive and will produce new growth from what sometimes seems to be a trunk that has rotted away on the inside. More on the chestnuts of Navasola in future posts.
Welcome to Navasola Nature . Navasola is a small U shaped woodland valley in the Sierra Aracena, about an hour from Seville, towards the Portuguese border. The nature part of the blog is part of our aim to help us all connect more with the natural world, both scientifically, and spiritually.
This year 2014 is the beginning of a personal journey to live more closely with the world of nature. I hope to observe the changing seasons, month by month with observations and reflections.