Green bug, yellow flower

I was fascinated by the individual variation of this flower and took a series of photographs of different flower heads which I thought might make an interesting collage! But when I started to look closely at the images, I noticed that there was the same green bug in many of the flowers. Arctotheca calendula is…

Sea Spurge

Sea Spurge. In the Spring, they produce their remarkable receptacle-like flowers, which in close-up look to me like some sort of decoration for a miniature Christmas tree! The cup-shaped flower heads consist of a female flower – which is surrounded by male flowers (reduced to stamen) and four, crescent-shaped glands (known as involucre) which contain nectar, to…

Sea Spurge

Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias) is a common plant on dunes and sandy beaches, from the British Isles down to the Mediterranean. The stems are slightly fleshy and glaucous – nice word – meaning bluish-grey or green. They do however, turn a reddish colour with age, giving a pleasing two-tone effect which contrasts attractively with the sand,…

Selecting from Nature’s patterns

Selecting from Nature’s patterns. Walking along a tide line, we might select in our camera lens certain features, patterns or accumulations as our fancy dictates. What drives this selection is a certain aesthetic, but what determines a given selection – a quick glance and then a largely unconscious choice looking through a viewfinder – is a…

Galician ponies: an ancient breed adapted to life on the hills

It’s hard not to be impressed by the natural, semi-wild lives these animals live in a beautiful countryside. Idyllic when the sun is shining in early June – as in the following sequence – but no doubt a different matter during the cold, wet winters. Nevertheless, they are perfectly suited to this climate, having lived…

Water pipits like watercress!

I came across some Water pipits (Anthus spinoletta spinoletta) on Serra de Capelada, a mountain near the coast in the north of Galicia, near Cape Ortegal, the second most northerly point in Spain. The mountain rises up to 620 metres before falling steeply into the sea. The birds were nesting on pasture grazed by cows and horses, below…

Dartford warblers in Galicia

Unlike the UK, where there are only a few thousand pairs of Dartford Warblers – mainly in southern England (1) – this species is quite common on the Iberian peninsula, albeit locally. There are may be as many as 3 million pairs in Spain, and 100,000 in Portugal, although worryingly, overall populations have declined significantly  in…

The Chaffinch – lucky to live in Europe

Surprisingly, for such a well-known bird, there are quite a few subspecies, or races of the common Chaffinch, which are based on differences in the pattern and colour of the adult male bird’s plumage. Experts differ concerning the total number of subspecies, some listing 10, 16 or even eighteen races (1, 2). Some are noticeably distinct…

A splendidly shiny beetle!

This shiny, iridescent dung beetle is relatively common during the summer in the hills of Galicia, NW Spain. It is a type of dor beetle (Family: Geotrupidae) and appears to specialise on horse dung, at least that is where they can be found in the hills of Galicia. Cleaning up after the Galician ponies! The…