Caterpillars, capras and cannibals

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”  A Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

Caterpillar swallowtail 22 May 15 (1)Caterpillar spotted 1 Jun 15 (1)After their family-feeding frenzy last week, I’m glad the blue tits left us with at least a few caterpillars on the land, and both these ones appear quite plump from gorging on the obviously still plentiful supply of their own particular brand of goodie!  I believe the striped job will be a dark swallowtail butterfly, but I haven’t been able to find out what the pretty spotted caterpillar with pouting red lips is.

Ibex 9 Nov 10 (2)I was delighted to see an ibex meander up to our fence, so close that I could make out most of her discernible features! We’ve seen groups of them in their normal habitat on the top of la Maroma, but it is rare to see them further down.  Unfortunately my camera wasn’t at the ready so I’ve rather cunningly used a photo from an earlier sighting around the corner from us a few years ago .

The Spanish wild goat (Capra pyrenaica) is one of two remaining sub species of ibex; the Portuguese and the Pyrenian sub-species having both died out.  Threats to the ibex include over-population, competition with domestic livestock and other grazers, also human disturbance from tourism/hunting and, of course, disease – being, as they are, prone to nasty ailments like sarcoptic mange and scabies.

Gecko on stone 3 May 15We have all sorts of geckos and lizards around us that seem to be happy to wander without our movements sending them scurrying away.  They even come up quite near where we sit and sun themselves for extended periods.  I’ve seen gecko droppings in the bedroom before now, but was surprised to see one emerge from a tiny gap in the wall, amid lots of scratching, and then casually walk up the metal chimney flue.  I think it lives between the inner and outer cabin wall.

Lizard new steps bump 11 May 15Lizard new steps bump 12 May 15 (2)On our new walk around the bottom of the land, we came across this big beast. He was well over a foot long, handsome and in no hurry to rush away, so we were able to get up close and personal to take this photo.

Locust 22 May 15 (1)Lizard green wall Apr 15I identified him later as an eyed lizard – they can be as long as 28″!  Their diet consists mainly of locusts and crickets, of which we have rather a lot! We also found this slightly smaller eyed lizard peering out at us from a drainage tunnel.

Dead great tit 14 Apr 15 (960x1280)There’s a huge amount of avian activity around us at the moment; probably the numbers have increased because of all the young ones. Of course, we have the omnipresent blue tits and great tits (although this one wasn’t very good at navigation and flew into the window, breaking its neck).  The eagles are around us most days, circling in the thermals and occasionally diving down to make a kill.  I’m sure I’ve said before that we’re always alerted to them being around by their pitiful mewing!

Goldfinch 29 May 15There is a resident family or two of blackbirds here; their song always remind me of ‘home’, ie England. With the onset of summer we are once again privileged to hear the beautiful songs of both the thekla larks and goldfinches as they take up their positions on the tops of the cypress hedges towards the end of the day.  Darting around us are the swifts and swallows that swarm around in late afternoon, swirling and diving at breathtaking speeds.

Dragonfly 26 May 15

Dragonfly 8 Jul 11 (3)Talking of which, I mustn’t forget our summer influx of damsel and dragonflies.  We’ve got  lots of titanium blue emperor dragonflies that are particularly spectacular. These amazing libelullas can, rather unbelievably, manage to catch and eat their own weight of insects in about 30 minutes. That includes other dragonflies!

Grasses 28 Apr 15 Grasses 2 May 15 Grasses & wildflower meadow 28 Apr 15 (4)

With careful management, our land has become a wildflower and grassland meadow, with new species emerging each year, slowly replacing the scrubland.

Grasses 30 May 15Grasses 28 Apr 15 (3)Grass unknown 7 May 15Food is plentiful here; some birds come for the seeds, some feed off the insects that come for the pollen.  It’s certainly a wonderful time of the year.

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