El País Semanal Report

Last weekend I appeared in the Sunday supplement of El País, a leading Spanish national newspaper. It’s an article about people who decided to swap their urban lives for a rural one and the difficulties and challenges that presents. I am very proud to have been asked to be a part of such a report for El País Semanal.

El País photo by Bernardo Pérez.

El País photo by Bernardo Pérez.

De geofísico en Irlanda a ornitólogo en La Mancha

11 NOV 2015 – 19:02 CET

Su fachada es blanca y rugosa, como muchas en Picón (Ciudad Real). Tiene rejas en las ventanas y una cortinilla flanqueando la puerta que, cuando se traspasa, deja ver un salón luminoso con una cristalera al fondo que da al jardín. Solo entonces, al pisar el patio interior, se puede contemplar un segundo edificio que se alza hacia el cielo...

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Pretty in Pink – The Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo (Pheonicopterus ruber)

There is a pond to the north of Daimiel not far from the Tablas de Daimiel National Park called the Laguna de Navaseca. It’s not very big but is always full of life. It is a delightful place for any birder, or even one not so interested, who loves to see vast quantities of birds in a concentrated area. Sometimes the noise can be raucous to say the least. One of the most noticeable of the larger birds has to be the beautiful Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). Most people are extremely surprised when I tell them we have large numbers of Flamingos in Castilla la Mancha, but we do. And what beautiful birds they are too.

Greater Flamingo (Pheonicopterus roseus)

Greater Flamingo (Pheonicopterus roseus)

Due to the salty nature of certain waters that flow from the mountains north of the Tablas of Daimiel and the large number of sh...

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A Hidden Gem and Desert Roses

Yesterday I was in Fernan Caballero, a small village in the Montes Norte region, to help organise an ornithological walking tour. The town council, as part of a program of showing the local people the richness of the flora and fauna right on their doorstep, want to do an excursion at the local Gasset Reservoir. The reservoir is about 15km north of Ciudad Real and 4 km west of Fernan Caballero and only a few km from one of my favourite birding areas, the Vicario Reservoir, both of which are declared protected areas due to their richness of avian life. But more about that excursion when it happens in a few weeks.

Map of El Vicario and Gasset Reservoirs north of Ciudad Real.

El Vicario and Gasset Reservoirs north of Ciudad Real.

This post is not about birds though...

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It’s not a Beard, and I’m not a Tit

Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus) in reeds

Bearded Reedlings – a Year Round Resident

One of my favourite passerines is the elusive, but well worth the effort of finding, Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus), also known as the Bearded Tit but it is not a Tit, which is a year-round resident in  Castilla la Mancha, Central Spain. They are a small passerine bird with a long tail and the males are quite unmistakeable with their light bluish-grey head and their lovely long moustache down their cheeks. The females do not have the bluish-grey head nor the moustache however they are quite readily identified all the same due to their activity and colour within the reed bed. And there are no shortages of reed-beds in Ciudad Real...

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Dreams of Spoonbills?

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) in flight.

On Wednesday night I had a brief dream about Spoonbills. I don’t know why, maybe because it was coming up to International Wetlands Day. Who knows? I did however wonder about how one might interpret it. I knew I had seen Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) and taken photos of them in Ireland a few years ago so I went to look for them in my archives, as I had never published them on Flickr. To my surprise I find that the morning I woke up after the dream was the 4th anniversary of seeing the Spoonbills in Timoleague, back in my native area of West Cork in Ireland. Now that is odd to have a dream about birds the same day four years after you see them.

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) in flight.

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) in flight.

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) in flight.

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) in flight.

Spoonbills in Europe

The ...

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Calatrava la Nueva – Birding on a Height

Calatrava Chapel Rosette Window

As mentioned in my previous post about Calatrava la Vieja, the Knights of Calatrava moved from near Carrión de Calatrava to their new castle near Calzada de Calatrava in 1217. It is a most impressive structure high on a rocky hill overlooking a pass through the mountains from the Sierra Morenas in the south and the stepp of the Campo de Calatrava in the north. On a rocky outcrop across the valley stand the remains of the Moorish Castle of Salvatierra which was built in the tenth or eleventh century on the ruins of a Roman construction. The road up to La Nueva winds up around the hill to the very foot of the walls, affording the visitor some great views over the countryside. The road up is also a favourite spot for locals to walk and pick delicious wild asparagus.

Castle of Calatrava la Nueva

Calatrava la Nueva, court...

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Calatrava la Vieja – history and great birding

Castilla la Mancha in central Spain is a great place for birding, of that there is no doubt. However there is more to the region than just birds. Here in the first of a series of entries about the regions cultural richness I will start with the first part of the regions name, Castile or Castilla. New Castile covers the area of Castile la Mancha without Albacete and was the area conquered by the Christians during the Reconquista or Reconquest of Spain before the great push into the Moorish Taifas of Andalucia. During this reconquest, many of the Moorish Castles were taken over by the Christians and many more were built. Calatrava la Vieja is one of those that has a very old and battle torn history.

Calatrava la Vieja, the Old Castle of Calatrava

Calatrava la Vieja

Calatrava la Vieja, the Old Castle of Calatrava stands on the banks of the...

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Casa Oretani – The Story Part V

Before we left for the summer the guys had started on the roof of our house. Off came the tiles and on went the Thermochip and the tiles again…eventually…after a few weeks. I never could figure out why it took so long to do that bit…nor could they give a reason…

The roof comes off

The roof comes off

As you can see the house upstairs is also made of adobe. We´ll be very snug in there in the winter.

The roof goes on again

The roof goes on again

Front windows being prepared

Front windows being prepared

Meanwhile with the cornicing done as in Part IV, the solar panels arrived as did the fireplace.

The solar panels going up

The solar panels going up

The solar panels going up

The solar panels going up

The Fireplace

The Fireplace

So, we left off before our summer holiday to Ireland with the plasterer having moved in and starting to make things less brick like...

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Butterflies from Ireland

European Peacock (Inachis io)

Bless me father for I haven’t blogged. It’s been months since my last blog entry. OK my son, just put up some nice butterfly shots and try to blog more often…

And so here I am again, well into Autumn, and what a lovely Autumn we´re having, and I just want to share some of the colours found on the butterflies of the summer encountered both in the garden of my wifes family home and my own. Summer in Ireland is something we always look forward to and this summer more so to introduce our new son to our families and the sights, smells and colours of his parents green island. He was enthralled by the foliage of the trees, the lush green grass, butterflies as they flitted about his pram outside. I don’t think he was too keen on the midges but then, who is?

Soon I´ll put up an update on our guest...

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Casa Oretani – The Story Part IV

Pool shed and outside toilet

Pool shed and outside toilet

Here at Oretani Wildlife we thought it about time that I did another update on the house to keep you informed about how our birding clients guest accommodation is coming along. Nothing more has been done to the guest house façade since the Parklex went up and they haven’t finished the back part. Why they didn’t get it all in one go might be an obvious question. The roof on our own house hasn’t been finished because they didn’t get all the Thermochip insulation either! And yet the builders have been giving out about the plumber not doing his work (which has been a bit of an issue). Anyway, apart from these minor headaches and frustrations, there is still plenty to do and be getting on with.

The outside shed which will have stuff for the pool and filters and a t...

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