Friday, 31 March 2017

British Birds: Eurasian Nuthatch

Eurasian Nuthatch, Sitta europaea caesia
After Blue Tits and Great Tits, one of the British Birds most likely to be seen at a feeder in a garden, especially near woodland, is the Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea. This species is currently doing well in the British Isles, and is currently spreading northward in Scotland, although it is currently absent from Ireland. There are at least 20 subspecies, with a range from western Europe across to China and South Korea, and southwards into the Caucasus. The form in the UK is caesia, which is also found in much of western Europe, and is typical of a group of subspecies with buff underparts and a white throat. Further east from Scandinavia across Siberia the europaea group has white underparts, and finally in China the sinensis forms have the throat and underparts pale buff.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Pleione Orchids

One of my interests has always been odd or unusual plants, and last year I decided to experiment with growing some of the near-hardy terrestrial orchids known as Pleione. After flowering some last year in the spring, I grew them on over the summer and have now produced a new set of flowers.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Bristol Birds: Waxwings!

Bohemian Waxwing, Bristol
The UK is currently experiencing an invasion of Waxwings. These starling-sized birds originate in Scandinavia and Siberia where they breed, but travel to the UK in the winter to feed on berries. Usually they mostly stay in Scotland and eastern England, but this year the flocks have spread much further to the southwest and are now found in the Bristol area close to where I live.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Spain 26: Butterflies

Clouded Yellow
By November the number of butterflies on the wing even in Spain. We saw very few most days, but on the trip down to the Ebro Delta we stopped for lunch in a warm spot where we caught up with a few late individuals:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spain 25: Horseshoe Whip Snake

Horseshoe Whip Snake
Given that the Spanish trip was in November, it is unsurprising that few reptiles were seen. Aside from a Wall Lizard, the only one was a distant view of what appeared to be a Horseshoe Whip Snake, Hemorrhois hippocrepis. The species gets its English name from the horseshoe shaped mark behind the head, and it one of four in the genus. Aside from the Iberian peninsula it is also found in north west Africa. The other species are found across north Africa and through the Middle East into central Asia.