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Scarce-Swallowtail

Scarce-Swallowtail-4, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

The gardens at the Quinta were planted with nature in mind and itís wonderful to see the myriad different species attracted to them nowadays, from Serins hopping around on the lawns through Red rumped Swallows nesting (again) in the garage and Rock Buntings down by the gate right the way down to the Geckos, Tree frogs, Lizards, Skinks and of course Butterflies like this Scarce Swallowtail. Above and below were just too lovely not to post.

Nuthatch-at-nest

This is the photo Iíve been longing to take. I love the way that the Nuthatch uses old Woodpecker nests, reducing the size of the entrance hole with mud to prevent larger birds raiding its nest, as in this picture. Iíve been keeping a special look out for one, and today, while Daniela and I were doing a Common Birds Census for SPEA, the Portuguese Bird Study Association, I had my chance and grabbed it!

Bee-swarm

Bee-swarm-20090421, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

This time of year here everything happens at once, especially with Nature, and there never seems to be a day when Life carries on in a hum-drum fashion. Yesterday was a case in point when a swarm of bees decided that the Quinta was the place for them and settled in a tree outside the back door prior to descending on the roof and crawling inside. It was a big swarm too and a pity that we can’t use it and give them a proper home in one of our hives. They settled too high up in the tree to get at them safely and crossed over to the house so quick that we hadn’t time to prepare to catch them before they’d got inside.
It might interest you to know that at this time, when they’re swarming and seem to be in such frightening numbers, they’re relatively harmless and one can pick them up, (carefully!), with one’s bare hands, but within a few hours, the time it takes them to gather their first nectar, they revert to being their cantankerous selves again and defend their home and food supply the same as ever.
Well, we’ll leave them there for a bit as they’re doing no harm at the moment, but I’m afraid they’ll have to go by next winter when we want to take the roof off for some maintenance …..