Sunday, 20 May 2018

Wet Spring

We have a beatiful wee spring here at the Croft. Opened up by the previous owners, it is marked on the Montseny map as running all year. For the last ten years - thanks to climate change here - the spring has been silent all summer.

But in the six months since December we have had 40% more rain than the average, the wettest spring since 2010. So the spring runs.

A Hungry Donkey Looks at the Thistle*

It's a tough life being a donkey on the Croft. I've put Arran and friends on a diet, and now there are only thistles to eat. It's a delicate process, getting past the prickles...

The straw diet is working well, and I think that the donkeys are beginning to lose weight. They are certainly tucking into their feed.

*With apologies to Hugh MacDiarmid, author of "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle"


When there are between six and ten million species of insect, it can be difficult to define which one you are dealing with. Here are three, of which only the first is reasonably likely to be what I claim it is. The second is possibly what I claim it to be, but the third is a complete mystery.

Marbled White, Melanargia galathea

I photographed the Marbled White - if that is what it is - on a rosemary bush today at the Croft. The second was shot this morning - we found it in the bathroom and popped it onto an oregano plant; I have no idea what its natural habitat is. The colours are spectacular, and the outer surface of the turquoise thorax is covered in tiny bumps. So is this Chrysis ignita, the Ruby Tailed Wasp?

Chrysis of identity

And the third, shot a couple of days ago on a nettle leaf. S/he has distinctive white socks, but here I am completely lost; I can't even identify the Family this chap is from.

I'm in a ... cul de sock
 All comments/ suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Dumpy Donkeys

It's a cruel alliteration, but really, my donkeys are a wee bit too chubby. 

I have been aware of it for some time, but it took a visit from Amber to confirm my worst suspicions. They have been feasting on cream buns and fly cemetries, sweet drinks and ice creams, and it really has to stop. She gave me a very useful guide from the excellent Donkey Sanctuary, and told me it was time to change the diet.

So here is Marguerita on the new diet.

A life of roughage
It's a diet of mainly barley straw, with a wee bit of hay now and again. It's spring time here, so there is lots to eat - either in the fields, or in the areas of woodland that I enclose for them.

They will be slim for the summer. Or at least, slimmer...

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Cute Newt

We spotted the newts last week, in the seasonal river ('riera' in Catalan) that flows from our spring. But I did not, of course, have my camera.

Today I took the camera, so here is a cute young Marbled Newt, Triturus marmoratus, in our very clean spring water:

Newt to be missed

They need the river while they grow - you can just see her external gills in the picture - but then disappear into the grass and woodland as the riera dries up in the summer.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Felled by a woodpecker

One of our big plane trees (Platanus x hybrida) was felled by high winds yesterday. The tree had broken half way up, with the top half leaning on the bottom half. 

It was complicated to bring the whole lot down safely. When I did, I discovered this woodpecker nest at the point at which the tree had broken:

The woodpecker (we have both the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major, and the Green Woodpecker, Picus viridis) had drilled into the soft plane wood and had taken most of the strength out of the tree by building such a large nest. The nest is 10cm wide, at a point at which the trunk is only 24cm diameter, so woodie had dug a nest almost half the tree's width.

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker is just 22cm tall. This tiny David felled a 20 metre Goliath of a plane tree.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Bad for Bees

The dreaded Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, has arrived.

I caught this one on Friday:

Ruler or ruled

Bee stung

I had seen one buzzing past me up at the hives on Friday morning, but identifying the fast-flying hornet is very difficult. Luckily (unlucky for her) this one stopped for a moment on some wax frames I had outside, and I caught her.

The excellent Agents Rurals have confirmed the identification...