jeudi 23 mai 2019

Crocothemis metamorphosis

Early April, at the small water reservoir of our Horta, we have been lucky to attend the metamorphosis of Crocothemis erythraea. We didn't expect so much life to come out from such a tank with no vegetation. Their unfolding wings looked like salmon color ballet slippers. More than 35 individuals came out. The transformation of dragonflies into imago stage is always magical to watch.

The bait hive and the long-eared owls

Early April. Manuel had spotted a swarm at the basis of a tree, in the middle of one of Campinho's olive groves. We went with Miguel to install a top bar bait hive. As we were doing so, a large bird flew away. We didn't pay too much attention, thinking it was a buzzard. As we were walking back and forth between the swarm and the hive, we spotted another moving bird in the branches. They had been looking at us. It was a family of Long-eared Owls (Asio otus) with at least two large pulli. It looked as if one at least was engaging in flight training. We quickly moved away to let them in peace.

Olive tree pruning and Churra fodder

Early April is still an excellent time to prune olive trees. We pruned two or three trees a day at the Horta and disposed the branches in line. Despite the wide availability of fresh grass, our Churra algarvia ewes loved it. The day after, all the available leaves had been eaten and I was turning the branches to allow them to reach the rest of the leaves.

Here, you can see the pruning transformation of one of the isolated olive trees, after about one hour of patient work.

April skies in Campinho

mardi 21 mai 2019

Crossing a fox

Locals in Campinho don't exactly like foxes. Many individuals get shot every year in the village. When the lambing season comes, foxes often steal us very young lambs if we don't shelter them at night. And yet, it is rare to see them from close. On Jan 3 in the late afternoon, as I was driving back to the village, one of them came in my direction from the other side of the fence. I followed it slowly. It went back in the opposite direction and I drove the car back and forth, staying close to it, leaving my camera besides me. Then it vanished in the vegetation...

Marbre "oeil de hibou"

Vila Viçosa vaut le détour à plus d'un titre. Et en particulier pour son petit musée du marbre. Vous découvrirez l'histoire du marbre et de son exploitation, et la diversité des ses textures et motifs. Les marbres "oeil de hibou" - ci-dessus et dessous - sont particulièrement chatoyants. Mais il y en a d'autres, comme le "pelage de tigre".

Pescadores do Montado

Petit souvenir de fin décembre dernier. Combien de temps encore, à l'heure des oliveraies intensives, verra-t-on les alentejanos partir à la pêche aux olives parmi les fleurs, à l'issue d'une année de labeur au pied de leurs oliviers? Moment familial à Campinho, où se réunissent trois générations, pour honorer pendant plusieurs jours les olives "galega" (petites) et "bical" (grandes et pointues).

lundi 20 mai 2019

Our little Barn Owls filmed by Jorge

We had installed this nest box for kestrels in 2013. The year after, they raised four pulli. However, from 2015 onwards, we have had uninterrupted breeding of Barn owls in this box. Despite its limited space, they raised 5 pulli in 2015, 2 in 2016, 5 in 2017, some in 2018 and around 4 this year. Here is a link to the 2015 breeding ones. Above and below, you will find a picture and a little movie by Jorge S. of the May 2019 festivities.

And here is a picture of a dead one that we found at the Monte in March 2016, to give you a sense of their absolute beauty. We will definitely keep working on installing more nest boxes and sharing our enthusiasm with more locals about this stunning bird.