my last day of Extremadura winter, unless you count the first part of the journey tomorrow, through the grim highlands of rock and broom up to Placencia, the edge of the Gredos mountains and the high cold plains of old Castille and Leon to Burgos – where it may be snowing – and then to the Basque country and the Atlantic coast of France.

here it has rained most of the night, as it did the night before, and the birds are singing. this must be the spring feeling to them, damp and soft. there is a thrush singing gloriously in the encinas at the bottom of the finca. but as it is Saturday, the hunters are out; they started shooting early this morning before dawn.


I went out onto the porch to get some firewood first thing and  heard the eagle owl making his resonant low hooh . I heard him last night when I went to bed and I think I may have heard the female, a higher harsh two syllable call. they live in the crags and ledges high up in the sierra, and they are suspected of foul play in the disappearance of at least one small puppy and several kittens. young animals have to be kept under close supervision at dusk. mostly I see and hear a pair of ravens, resident somewhere in the rocks above the house.


I am very much hoping that when I come back in April there will be some bird watchers staying who can identify or confirm identifications of birds for me. I am pretty sure I have several wood larks around the place – like a lark with a crest, but a shorter tail and a big cream fluffy chest, with much more striped feathering in browns and creams and a definite cream streak above the eye. they hop about and peck in front of the porch. I haven’t seen the hoopoe since the first few days; I suspect the presence of the dogs has made them shy. a troop of cranes flew over this morning; I heard their weird trumpeting calls, and came out to see perhaps fourteen flying south in a vee formation.


when I come back the finca will have been ploughed and harrowed. that should mean lots of spring flowers; it will be done in early March. the soil is sandy and like concrete, it needs air in it. now there are large areas where only stonewort and moss can grow. of course it has suffered from the bulldozer when a large amount of earth was extracted to make up the camino, and from the builders, including machines when the site was first cleared and opened.


and maybe I will be able to get the wooden gate made for the entrada. the carpenters had the measurements over two years ago. So many promises for next time.