Sunday, 28 October 2012

All quiet on the Levels

FOR once the Somerset Levels were very quiet yesterday, although the bright sunshine made up for it.  The wintering duck numbers are starting to build, although as one of the their usual sites is currently dry and the other potential site is undergoing works, they were at the RSPB's Ham Wall instead.  The main spp. were Shoveller and Gadwall with a few teal.  The Great White Egret was joined by herons and cormorants.

I was pleased to see a few dragonflies but I fear that their days are very numbered now.  One amazing site was a mallard sending up a huge plume of water whilst bathing:

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Autumn mists

LAST Sunday the weather was bright with the mists hanging in the valleys, so I trooped off to catch some early morning images.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Picos de Europa

ONE of the advantages of having a blog is that you can share your holiday photos without having to hear people snoring with boredom, or making excuses about being out for the remainder of the week, or wiping your images from my memory card before I get a chance to share them (sorry - in-joke).  Anyway enough of that paranoia...

Our main summer holiday this year was to the truly wonderful Picos de Europa in northern Spain.

The national park is situated in the area known as the Costa Verde due to the high rainfall, which in turn gives rise to a relatively lush, green landscape.  Ask anyone who's been in this part of the Iberian Peninsula and they will rave about it.  We stayed in a great self catering house with a spectacular view.

The coast is reminiscent of Cornwall but the jagged limestone rocks are sharp to the touch and the temperature was somewhat higher.  As we went in September the summer birds had departed, but there were still a few interesting species around such as Egyptian vultures, black redstarts, alpine choughs and alpine accentors.  Plantwise the most outstanding species were the autumn crocuses and the autumn ladies tresses. I also saw a swallowtail butterfly but took my eyes off it fro a second and so was unable to pursue it and get a photo (school boy error).

Autumn crocus

Although the whole area is wonderfully rich, we visited late in the season and the summer has been particularly dry apparently.  In addition the grasslands where the flowers are, are grazed very hard by cows, sheep and goats and so there is little that can grow beyond  a flat roseate of leaves in many areas.  But maintaining a healthy animal farming economy is paramount to the sustainability of the habitat and its associated wildlife.  There is a big drive to reintroduce the  Lammergeierfor instance, and this feeds on carrion, such as dead stock. 

Local stockmen and stock
Local grazer - her bell joined 100s of others to accompany our visit
Former summer homes for the local herders

Autumn Ladies' tresses (orchid)

Walk at the top of the Fuente De cable car

Alpine choughs
Alpine accentor
View of Naranjo de Bulnes
Typical meadow amongst orchard trees


Test flights

AT the RSPB Greylake Nature Reserve recently, whilst searching for the spotted crake (and dipping out!) I was amused to see a family of mute swans going through a well rehearsed exercise.  On a small pond the youngsters lined up then did a short, low wing flapping run from one side to the other, swam around some reed-mace, then did the same thing over again - the parents dutifully followed.  This happened at least three times before they all settled down to some wing preening.  What made it interesting, as well as amusing, was the wonderful light reflecting on the water and the spray put up by their energetic routine.