Rocks, trees and lichen

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Extremadura has a range of land types: high rocky mountains, wide rolling grassy plains, steep valleys, large meandering rivers and a huge area of open water with the many reservoirs.  But it is the Dehesa that typifies the place for me.  The beautiful parkland with widely spaced oak trees pruned over the centuries to spread wide and shade the ground beneath covers vast areas and with the ancient woodland clinging to steep rocky slopes and narrow valleys makes for an awful lot of trees.

The soil can be quite poor and rocky; in many places granite boulders lie in tumbled heaps across the landscape.  But with rocks and poor soil comes low intensity agriculture with cattle and sheep grazing at low densities amongst the trees and very little use of fertilizers and agricultural chemicals which consequently encourages a wide range of wild flowers; in spring Extremadura is a very colourful place.  And the clean air makes for a paradise for lichens which encrust every square centimetre of the exposed rocks, walls and trees.

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Vultures

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I returned from my holiday in Extremadura last week but I’ve been so busy (and I have so many photos to process) that I’ve still not sorted myself out yet.  But today is my birthday so I’m treating myself to an hour off to post a few photos of vultures.  Monfrague Natural Park is a magnificent place to see a whole range of birds of prey (and a whole lot more) but it’s the griffon vultures that make it for me.  It’s possible to watch them on their nests and soaring overhead and even look down on them in flight in one special spot.  Huge, wonderful birds.

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Espana

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I’m on holiday in Spain at the moment  and after a day in Cordoba, we’ve just arrived in Extremadura for ten days.  Cordoba was wonderful and must be just about my favourite Spanish city.  But Extremadura is a dream come true for nature lovers at this time of year.

At the moment I’m sat on a patio with a beer next to me while the sun sets in a clear blue sky.  I’m surrounded by  old oak dehesa with azure winged magpies churring away competing with the cicadas and the song birds.  The backdrop is a gentle tinkle of goat bells. And I can’t see another habitation in the whole 360 degrees view.
The only drawback: very limited internet so this will be my only post until I return to Blighty. But when I do, I hope to have a few tales and photos.
Buenas noches.

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Posted from my phone

Bare woodland

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Since my return from Shetland, I’ve had my mind on other things and not taken a single photograph.  But I’m hoping that I’ll have some free time to get out and about again soon so thought I’d post a couple of photos from this day eight years ago, to get me back into a blogging frame of mind.

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The merry dancers

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We had an absolutely wonderful aurora display last night.  Not only was there the full curtain effect but it extended right overhead and well into the southern sky.  This was the view straight up.

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The waves of light were flickering and moving across the sky so quickly that long exposure photos could never capture the spectacle; what Shetlanders call “the merry dancers”.  But after a while I just stopped taking photos anyway, caught up in the magnificent  free show that nature was putting on.  What a wonderful end to my time up here in the far north.

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Bye bye Shetland

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My friends return from their holiday in India today and a couple of days later, I’ll be on my way back to Nottinghamshire, my job looking after their house and animals finished.  I probably won’t get chance to post again for a few days so here’s a few photos that didn’t make it into my earlier posts but seem to give a flavour of the last month.

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