Archive for the 'wildlife & nature' Category

Begonte kicked Marta’s ass

Yesterday Isabel and I spent the day in Begonte, a lovely area in the province of Lugo where you can still find oak tree forests and sometimes, if you are lucky, sight the odd nuthatch. This is what Begonte looks like in mid-winter.

Oak Tree Forest in Begonte

Oak Tree Forest in Begonte

River Mill in Begonte

River Mill in Begonte

Of course, I took my TomTom GO 930 with us. After much toying and fiddling with the settings, we have settled down on a voice named “Marta”. Isabel likes “Ken”, an aussie guy that sounds serious enough as to drive you off a cliff if need be, but Marta is still our most usual trip companion. And metonymy has led us to personify the navigation device and call it “Marta” as well.

Continue reading ‘Begonte kicked Marta’s ass’

After Man

After almost a decade trying to get it, yesterday I received a copy of After Man by Dougal Dixon. I got it from an Amazon.com seller, second hand.

I recall browsing through the pages of that book, back in the 1980s, and being mesmerized at the drawings and the stories within. Last night I browsed through the book again and I wasn’t disappointed. Quite the opposite; I am utterly impressed.

Rufus the dog and Elvira the cat

Isabel and I are just back after eight days in the Cider Valley, Asturias. Wonderful area. So close to our own Galicia and so much better preserved. Oh well.

There we rented a small cosy cottage with wooden roof and creaky floors in the middle of a 12,000 sq.m. private apple orchard. So peaceful and quiet. I would wake up before her, tiptoe out of bed, avoid the creaky floorboards, bump my head against the inevitable roof beam, and go down into the porch to listen to the morning birds until Isabel called from bed and gorgeous breakfast followed. All peace and rest.

Until Rufus made his appearance.

Rufus

Rufus

Rufus was the stupidest dog I’ve ever met. He would just turn up at our place, bark at us like crazy for a few minutes, and then run away, still grumbling and barking, to disappear amongst the bushes at the edge of the property. Maybe it was the neighbour’s dog. After our first encounter, Isabel said he reminded her of somebody she had met some time ago and named him Rufus after this person, because he would be grumpy and loud and just friggin’ stressed out. I must point out that Isabel is extremely good with dogs. Every time we go some place where there are dogs she ends up being their best pal. Dogs just love her. But Rufus wouldn’t. She cooed and wooed but Rufus wouldn’t stop barking. The second time Rufus made a stellar appearance Isabel even tried to bribe him with a lamb chop. A lamb chop, yeah, I know! Freshly barbecued and all. But Rufus wouldn’t bulge. Such a silly dog. I would have let her nibble my ears for a lamb chop.

So we dubbed him “the dog that cannot be bribed”.

A few days passed and one night we were cuddling by the porch, listening to the night birds (do you know what a scops-owl is?) when we heard a soft, lilting cry round the corner of the house. After a few seconds a pair of elegant yellow eyes revealed themselves, and a fluffy black head outlined against the darkness of the night. She was the blackest, cutest and hottest cat that I have ever seen. She was shy at first, but after a few biscuits and my unquestionable talent with felines, she was ours. She would rub and rub and rub against my arm and leg. Not so much against Isabel’s, maybe because she’s not that much of a cat person as I am, maybe because she smelled of Rufus, or maybe just because the gorgeous she-cat could feel my male pheromones. 😉 Isabel named her Elvira, a Visigothic name, since we had been visiting some Visigothic monuments that day. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any pics of Elvira, so you’ll have to trust me on this one.

It was late and Isabel and I went to bed. Elvira stayed out of the house, meowing loudly.

Next day, or the day after, I can’t remember, Rufus showed up again. Strangely enough, he wasn’t barking. Isabel run into the kitchen and got hold of some food scraps from lunch. Quick as a fox (even quicker), she poised a juicy lamb chop in front of Rufus’ unkempt snout and, to our surprise, he deftly grabbed it and retreated a few metres to eat it.

Rufus being bribed

Rufus being bribed

The dog that could not be bribed had been bribed!

Tasmania

A few days ago a colleague at work asked if I had been to Tasmania. I said yes. And here you are some photos I took while there. It was December 2003, mid-summer.

Beach

Beach

Pademelon

Pademelon

Echidna

Echidna

Poppy Field

Poppy Field

The first photo shows a nice and lonely beach. Then you can see a pademelon looking at us. Just walking in the bush and this little creature was there, so quiet. The third photo shows an echidna on the roadside, for those who ask what an echidna looks like. And then, the last photo is a poppy field. In other words, opium.

Snow photos

I promised to post some photos of the snowfall we had in January. Well, here you are.

Falling Snow

Falling Snow

Cesar in the Snow

Cesar in the Snow

Cesar in the Snow again

Cesar in the Snow again

Train in the Snow

Train in the Snow

The first picture, taken from our balcony, shows the snow falling. It was Saturday mid-morning. The second and third photos show yours truly out in the snow, noon time of the same day. You can see the nice old church of Zamudio in one of the photos. The fourth picture shows the EuskoTren (Basque Train, literally) running through the snow.

Thanks for waiting, Stuart!

Snow

The Siberian cold spell struck hard last Friday, resulting in a white weekend. We have heaps of snow (literally) and all the associated side-effects such as snowmen on the footpaths, charming kids throwing snow balls and a motorway blocked by a truck that jackknived into the toll booths.

It is beautiful. I hadn’t seen snowing so copiously for ages, ever maybe. Birds are more active in the snow, I believe, and each time I catch a glimpse of the outside through the window I can almost feel the crisp cold in my face and the slippery ice-covered ground under my soles.

Yesterday, Isabel and I went to the local library to return some books (and borrow more, since our stuff is still travelling somewhere in England or Europe), buy some groceries and get some cash from the bank. Of course, we took the camera with us. Most of the kids were playing in the little alleys around town, and the gardens and green areas around the town hall square and the library building were pristine and untrod. So after doing our business at the library we succumbed to the call and engaged into a fierce snowball battle which included high acts of treason such as Isabel shooting at me when I was not looking; fairly enough, she slipped and fell on her bum shortly after, so I could ungentlemanly take advantage and castigate her with a well-directed missile into her face.

I still have to unload the photos from the camera, but I promise to post a few.

A great tit!

Life goes on here at Ibarrondo Etxea.

But this morning, soon after I got up, I opened the window that looks over the balcony and there it was, a great tit hanging upside down from the handrail, pecking at the gossamer and cobwebs. My heart stopped for a few moments, I promise, while I tried to decide whether to keep holding my breath to avoid scaring the little creature or to move a little bit to get a better perspective. I think it was only a few seconds until it flew away, but, after four years without sighting one, it felt almost like the first time.


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