Ulysses is the name we gave to our local Tawny owl, who over the past few years has become a kind of village mascot, following us back to the village from our vegetable patch, flying from post to post and peering at us curiously, often perching on lampposts and television aerials to call out his unmistakable ‘uuuh-uh-uhuhuuuh’. Weeks back he was seen on intimate terms with his mate and we supposed they were now busy raising a family in one of the nearby Holm oaks. But then about two weeks ago he appeared in the village and called throughout the night, and some of the day. He’s been back every day or night since. At first we were amused, but on seeing him persistently calling, flying around the village and ignoring the angry Blackbird which was jabbering at him from the same TV aerial, we started to feel concerned.
Then Sergio, our local shepherd got in touch with me and told me he’d found the carcass of a bird. I went to see it. Although fairly decomposed, it was quite clearly a Tawny owl, probably victim to a hard chicken wire fence which it presumably flew into. Was this Ulysses’ missing partner? I can hear him hoo-hooing disconsolately as I write. It’s truly heart-breaking. I can only hope that he’s managed to rear any chicks alone, and can eventually find another partner.
On a lighter note a pair of little owl have adopted a dead holm oak and are often to be seen perched on its branches (or otherwise occupied) as we drive past. They seem totally un-phased by passing cars. As it’s not a good place to stop I only managed this shot on my mobile...
Spring has taken it’s time arriving this year, despite unseasonably warm days in February and March. But it has rained buckets, and it’s a joy to see everything so green and full of colour, everywhere covered in masses of grasses and flowers.
There are tell-tale tracks of who’s been in the neighbourhood...
|newt or salamander tracks|
Meanwhile in the mountains there is fresh snow and the Red Rock thrush we looked for in vain a few weeks ago has finally arrived. It shares the mountain with Dunnocks, Ravens and Hortolan bunting.
red rock thrush
On a walk in a pine forest with birder friends just 45km away we were very excited to find recent signs of Red squirrel, not normally associated with this area.
|squirrel dining table|
We also came across several Pied flycatcher, one of whom I managed to film singing, and due to the size and shape of the white forehead mark and primary bases, and lack of white on the tail we suspect to be of the native subspecies iberiae. There are plenty of woodpeckers in the woods who have provided nice nesting holes for them.
A Short-toed treecreeper appeared and disappeared, not into a tree hole but into a stone wall.
And we have proud lodgers on the corner of our house: a handsome Spanish sparrow couple, no doubt dislodged by the butchery done to the poplars in the village gardens last year which were not so much pollarded as truncated (municipal madness I tried to put a stop to but, alas, could not). Here is the male guarding the nest, complete with flowers.
A visit to our reservoir brought two lovely surprises: a Turtle dove cooing and an young Osprey roosting for the night.