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20090114_2364, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Coming back from the “factory” we reached the Top of the World just as the sun dipped below the horizon and gave us this wonderful sunset – too good to keep to ourselves!

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

We have three different types of Woodpecker that visit the garden regularly, Green, Great Spotted and Lesser Spotted …. of course it’s not every day that we get the chance to see the latter as they’re really quite rare this far south, but when one started to tap away right outside my window this morning I was lucky enough to get this quick shot and thought I’d share it.

Blackcap Warbler

Occasionally things just happen so “according to plan” that I feel totally blown away ….
I’d been bemoaning the fact yesterday that I simply couldn’t get a good shot of a Blackcap despite seeing them every day. They seem to be always in the deepest thicket or behind the only bit of grass this side of the Sahara ….
Then just before lunch today I thought I’d have 5 minutes with the camera and see what happened, so perched myself on a windowsill and settled down to wait …. nine times out of ten in these situations, nothing happens, but today was different …
“Wouldn’t it be nice if something popped onto that dead branch over there right out in the open”, I thought to myself, and hey presto up it popped!


Robin 9092, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

During the summer Robins are really quite rare in these parts, but during the winter they come south and we’re inundated with them.
On the Continent Robins are normally quite shy and secretive birds, quite unlike the ones in Britain, but the Quinta’s garden must attract specifically British birds as ours are never far away and I regularly have four or five within a few meters of me whenever I’m working outside; they seem to be far less territorial than those I’ve seen in the UK too.

Tree Frog

When I first started to build the Quinta it was just a collection of wooden shacks in the middle of nowhere with very little life nearby, and over the years I’ve designed and made the garden specifically to attract and nourish as wide a collection of birds and wildlife as possible. Birds can get here on their own but, with no green corridor, other species I had to give a helping hand to, and Tree Frogs were one of them.
When I heard there were some hatching in the next village up the valley I was lucky enough to be able to catch some and let them go in the garden; now, 20 years later, we have a resident population here and there’s nothing nicer than to find one from time to time …

Sulphur tuft, Hypholoma Fasciculare ( prev. Pholiota)

Pholiota 9074, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that catch one’s eye, and these, (which Keith has kindly identified as Hypholma Fasciculare), with the early morning frost highlighting their caps, just had to be shared.
I’m always willing to learn more from a real expert mycologist, so if you’re one and can id these professionally for me I’d love to hear from you.