Thursday, 13 July 2017

Brock, out late

I have a new toy, thanks to my daughter. It's a camera trap. 

It takes a lot of experimentation to set it up in the right place, pointing the right way, but this week (10th July) I had my first success.

Mr Brock the Badger strolled past at 1am, and my new camera caught him:

The big challenge will be to photograph a Roe Deer like the one I saw a while ago ( I'll keep trying!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Deer here

This morning, I saw a Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus, corzo in Spanish, cabirol in Catalan)

Picture from Wikimedia Commons

It was running down the track near the Croft. The dogs, Islay and Biscuit, had put it up, but it easily outpaced them with its beautiful elastic stride on delicate legs.

The Roes were introduced in the Montnegre Natural Park by the hunting clubs there, in 1993. Ten individuals, captured in Landes de Gascunya (in Occitania, South West France) were released, five males and five females, all equipped with radio collars. The objective was to improve game hunting in the area (no, I don't approve of that objective...)

Between us and Montnegre is a motorway, a main road and two railway lines - one normal and one high-speed. These barriers have slowed down the spread of the deer but we've had partial sightings over the last year or so here at the Croft. Today's was the first sighting in full daylight, so great to be able to confirm the species.

Deer, here, make us a little bit wilder.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Patrick's no weel

Patrick the junior donkey is not well. Nothing dramatic, but we had the vet in yesterday to take a look at him.

They shut me in...

He'd been seen in the field with a locked rear leg - caused, says the vet, by a ligament locking over the knee.This is 'Locking Stifles' and the vet cured it quickly by making Patrick take a few steps backward.

He is convalescing - luxuriously - in his stable where we are pandering him with apple and carrots. Crofter's son just took him for a short walk, and he's much better. Phew!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Winter becomes Spring

The winter is over. While the astronomic winter carries on for another week to 19th March, it's all over here. Yesterday the thermometer went above 20ºC. The donkeys have a new field to enjoy.

Smokin' Donkeys
Spring has sprung, the grass has riz...

It's the grass, man

  ...and the toads are frolicking in the irrigation tank. These are Midwife Toads, I think, and the male is much smaller than his girlfriend. Toad sex is a long, drawn-out affair:

I have been checking my bees and the signs are good; they have survived the winter - no surprise, it was so mild - and seem in fine feckle for the Spring campaign. The blackthorn is in full flower, as is the rosemary, so there is no shortage of nectar.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Hornet Horror

Last week (24th August) I saw an Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, at the beehives. Not good news. The hornets are capable of killing off whole hives of bees.

I phoned the Agents Rurals (a rural warden service) who where quick and efficient, arriving an hour after my call with a trap and a load of instructions.

I have been checking the trap and the area around the hives; the clue is to look for the severed heads of worker bees. The hornet takes the thorax, which provides protein for its larvae.

So far I have not found any.

But I am on guard:

Kung Fu Crofter

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bee Tongue

A fascinating piece - if you like words - from the University of Barcelona, has helped me understand why people in Catalonia use so many words for beehive. Some people here say it's a 'rusc' and others that it is an 'arna.'

Research by Maria-Pilar Perea and Germà Colón Domènech at the University of Barcelona that might be of interest to Dr Jarrett over in his Corner of 10th Century Europe, shows the development of at least six words or phrases for beehive. 

'Rusc' in yellow, 'arna' in green

Their map shows how 'rusc' was the word used in the Barcelona area, while 'arna' was used in western Catalonia, at least since the 13th century.

Which of course led me back to Scotland, where I can remember my Mum using a word that was not 'hive.'  She called a hive a 'bee-howff', which means a bee-residence or bee lodge.

In Scots we also have;

  • Bee-bike, or byke, defined in the Scots Dialect Dictionary as a wild bees' nest, and in Chambers Scots Dictionary as also meaning a swarm, an assembly of people, or unexpected good luck. In the old days, finding a wild bees' nest was unexpected good luck
  • Bink, defined in The Scots Thesaurus as a hive
  • Ruskie, a straw beehive

Truly we speak in bee-tongues.

Special thanks to Teresa at the Catalan Beekeepers Association for this information.

Monday, 15 August 2016

It started with a seed...

...that got caught in Fidget's (the sheep) neck. 

Then some more got caught there, and then Quim the shepherd told me that this is a common problem. Some sheep feed with their heads low down, near the ground - and get covered in the grain that falls out when the rest of the flock eat.

It had become a real problem, so I replaced our tall upright hay feeder with a home-made one, knocked up from scrap wood from around the Croft.
Bits, and a bit of a plan

It's made

It works!

Scrap is SO useful!