I take a camera along on my Dog Walks to bring you some of the sightings that I see on my morning walks, these photos are rarely going to be great quality as its hard enough keeping an energetic Dog entertained and get close enough to anything. They also help me identify where species are so that I can plan to return.
You may remember a post (excuse the pun) a while back about the damage Woodpeckers have do to our Telephone pole. Yesterday’s walk (there wasn’t one this morning as I was recovering from Wales winning the Grand Slam and 6 Nations Rugby!) I spotted a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on the very same pole.
Sorry for the not so steady video, but videoing hand held at 400mm isn’t easy. The jangling you can hear is Wally’s collar and the chirping is from a large family of House Sparrows.
Woodpeckers drum at this time of year to attract females and you can often hear them drumming on metal and concrete poles as they are much louder than wood. He who drums the loudest will attract the females. As you’d expect, the drumming is a lot quieter than the Great Spotted Woodpecker but still carries a long distance.
Last week I was contacted by a film company who is making a new documentary titled “Tudo é Paisagem” (“Everything is Landscape”) about the History of Landscape Architecture in Portugal. This has been commissioned by the Associação Portuguesa dos Arquitectos Paisagistas (Portuguese Association of Landscape Architects).
Yesterday we agreed terms and I have supplied various shots for inclusion in their documentary. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this collaboration.
I will share more information at a later date, but for now if you haven’t watched my film from back in August you can view it below;
Rain often brings Millipedes out and whilst out walking the dog yesterday morning I stumbled across a large Millipede. I’m unsure of the species as I can’t quite match the colouring to anything, however, it was around 10cm long. Certainly no giant, but still quite large.
People often think Millipede means a Million legs, but the name comes from the latin word ‘mil’ which means a thousand. However, they also don’t have a thousand legs either, most have less than a hundred, but all have less than a thousand. Evidence from fossils suggest that Millipedes were one of the first to ever leave water to land and breathe air.
As you can see, this one is carrying an injury, but doesn’t seem to be affected by it. It coiled itself up (a defensive move) when I found it, so left my phone running to capture it un-coil and continue.
Whilst walking Wally (the dog) this morning, our local Tarantula Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) was out of her nest either feeding on the many flies and ants the rain has brought out or she was making home improvements to her burrow opening.
As soon as she saw me she darted into the nest so I set my mobile (Samsung Galaxy S8+) up outside her burrow and left it there while I wandered along to the river. About 10 minutes later I returned to witness her dart into the burrow again.
This is the video the phone captured. You can clearly see the babies moving around on her back. They are getting quite large now and some have even started to wander around the outside of the burrow and even leave on their own life adventures. Who knows, maybe she’s outside trying to get them to pluck up the courage to leave. You’ll notice she has quite a nice garden and lawn growing now due to the recent rain.
One day every year, when the conditions are right, Winged Ants take to the air in order to create new colonies. Today, here all around the Quinta the skies became full of large flying Ants. There are many Ant species in Portugal, which these are I’m not certain (please get in touch if you know!).
Deep inside the Ant colonies, Winged species are breed and wait until its time for the Nuptial flight. Both Males and Virgin Queens take to the skies. The Queens release pheromones to entice males. Successful males mate with multiple Queens before dying, yep, their life is complete! The Queens, which now have their Spermatheca organ full of sperm, land back on the ground. They contain enough sperm to fertilise eggs for their entire lifetime, which I have read can be up to 20 years! On the ground, the (no longer) Virgin Queen has to find a new location to build her new colony and constantly lay eggs. They no longer have a use for the wings, so they tear them off and discard them. Fascinated by this I grabbed my Mobile Phone and recorded a few clips.
Here is the edit I put together to show this amazing transformation.
Almost 2 weeks have passed since the fires of Monchique were finally extinguished. Once the fires were out, I made a trip around the locally burnt areas and was shocked at just how large an area was affected and the amount of devastation left behind, I was (and still am) genuinely saddened by the scenes. I was determined to try and capture the scale of what happened to the almost 28,000 hectares burnt within just 7 days.
It has taken a fair amount of filming and editing to bring you “Consequência – Depois dos Incêndios” which translates to “Consequence – After the Fires”. Up until yesterday, I was still filming and still you can see areas of ash with smoke rising and occasionally there seems to be small flare-ups in the areas, particularly around Monchique. As you will see in the film, some of the ground has white ash spots or holes where trees once stood and have completely vanished. Other areas have an eerie beauty, such as the Eucalyptus trees with their scorched leaves, at first they appear to be stunning Autumn colours, of course, they are not.
Feel free to share this YouTube video, however, one thing I strongly ask is it is not used in any political argument about how bad or good the emergency services dealt with the situation. I did not create this film with any bias towards either side of the argument. For the record though, I am amazed at how well properties have been saved. The video is available in both HD and 4K if you have the Internet bandwidth and/or equipment to play it in those resolutions.