Thursday, 16 October 2014

New Species

When we have been away, it is usual for me to come back with a new 'tick' or two for the life lists and our week in the Algarve has added ticks to both the bird and plant lists. Plants to begin with and a couple of non-native species which caught our eye.  Firstly, a member of the Pea family - although you might not think so to look at it - this is commonly called a Needle Bush.
Originating from Mexico and Central America, the scientific name for this species varies and it is known as either Vachellia, Acacia or Mimosa farnesia. Looking closely, it is easy to see where the common name comes from.
The second new 'tick' on the plants list, belongs to another non-native species originating this time, from Australia. Known as Mugga or Red Ironbark, the scientific name is Eucalyptus sideroxylon.
In Portugal and Spain, Eucalyptus are often grown for wood pulp, but in this case, it was purely decorative.
The last new 'tick' was a small bird which I had never thought I would get the chance to see. In Britain, the Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus) is very scarce and confined to a few thousand individuals only to be found in ancient pine forests of northern Scotland. So it was a great surprise to find one flitting restlessly around the branches and needles of the pine trees just in front of our balcony!  Unfortunately, the little so-and-so was small, very active and retiring in the deep shade of the tree, so I didn't manage to get a picture, but it was a good 'tick' nonetheless.
Lacking in Crested Tit photos, I will finish for today with another flowery picture from the Old Village mentioned yesterday. This time, the flowers belonged to a South African native, the Pink Trumpet Vine or Podranea ricasoliana.
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