Monday, 22 March 2010

Exotica

In Benidorm, there is always something to set you back on your heels and make you doubt your eyes. This time was no exception. Some of the more exotic things to be seen included both plants and birds. To start with, perhaps the most exotic plant anywhere to be seen. Called a Parrot Bill vine (Lotus berthelotii), this one was tumbling down the walls of an equally exotic villa on the hillside of the Sierra Helada. Stunning!
An exotic plant with which you may be more familiar, is the Freesia. A well known and well loved flower of almost every supermarket bouquet, they are best known for their rich, sweet fragrance. Here, they were, Freesias (Freesia refracta), growing wild amongst the grasses and Thyme plants.
Maybe a little less exotic, but equally well known are the bearded Irises and, yet again, here they are growing wild amid the grasses of the Sierra Helada. These are German Irises (Iris germanica).
Without doubt, the most exotic thing we saw during our stay in Benidorm this time, took us completely by surprise as it appeared in a pine tree close to our apartment. We had just finished our lunch and were finishing off the glass of wine which accompanied it, when a pair of birds caught my eye in the top of a nearby pine. Grabbing the camera and the binoculars to get a better look, I was stumped to put a name to them. Convinced they were not native birds to Europe, the name 'Bulbul' came to mind, although there was no way of confirming it at the time. Back home and trawling through the net to identify these birds, I find that they were indeed Bulbuls - hooray! To be precise, Red-whiskered Bulbuls (Pycnonotus jocosus). Natives of the far east, they will be very much at home in this area of Spain as they love to eat the fruits of Loquats, Ficus trees, and many other plants which grow in abundance around here.
About the size of a large thrush, they were rather too far away to get a good picture, but here is another picture taken from the Internet just for reference. From HERE.
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