it seems I brought my English weather with me to Extremadura last week – we had rain on wednesday, thursday, friday, and even a little on saturday. this had the good result of filling my pool to a point where the pump could work, although currently I am waiting for the plumber to come and connect the water to the new gravity fed supply.

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there are still green patches on the finca after the long wet winter, and the vegetation is waist high in places, so tangled it is impossible to wade through it. it will be cut soon, for hay, exactly as a hay meadow in England, the next surge of growth will be impossible if the dead stuff is not removed.

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there are some beautiful plants on the finca – pinky-purple wild allium, wild carrot as always, and the black centered yellow daisies are still flowering.

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yesterday I walked up the camino to Montanchez, trying to photograph butterflies and listening for birds.

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there are cushions of these little wild pinks everywhere, you can see huge ones all over the sierra, high up amongst the boulders.

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in a few places, where the camino has not been opened up for access, the grasses and brambles are doing their best to close it. sadly we started the rot with the opening up, and much that was wild and only wide enough to walk through has been cleaned out and is bare paving and dry stone wall, often with more huge gates – not the pretty ones put in further up.

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clouded yellow butterflies are quite common; their wings are much darker on the upper surfaces, almost yellow ochre.

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big painted ladies everywhere, very suspicious and flighty, I managed to creep up on this one.

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I have seen several of these small coppers on the finca, as well as when climbing up the camino.

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here is the strangest creature hiding in the undergrowth, not a butterfly, almost invisible in flight, just a shimmering disturbance in the air. top wings a bit like a tiger moth, then something like a second wing which is a long wire with a plume on its end, hardly functional. it puzzled some biologists who stayed in the house a few weeks ago. it is nemoptera sinuata, a spoonwing lacewing; its larva is known as the ant lion, which buries itself in sand and catches other insects.

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there are still nightingales singing in the sierra, rather abbreviated songs, perhaps the rainy weather made them think it is spring again. there was one down this gully full of trees.

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beautiful purple flowers yet to be identified growing between the paving stones.

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another nightingale spot. I saw a family of sardinian warblers in the rocks under a clump of ilex oak; very dark grey birds with white throats and chins, not very shy, I stood and watched them flitting about for five minutes; I was alerted to their presence by some odd churring alarm calls.

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more nightingales below the moorish castle at the top of the camino, where there is a well-watered ravine full of orange groves.

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a drink from the fuente, and then back down, harder work hopping from stone to stone securely than walking up.

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a peaceful evening in the sun; by the pool a monster blue and green dragonfly and three dark crimson ones, about half the size, with forward pointing wings – identified now as sympetrum fonscololmbii – male red-veined darter, common in rice paddies in southern Europe. the enormous salamander lurks on the bottom like a mysterious dinosaur and occasionally surfaces for a gulp of air.