Monday, September 11, 2017

End of Summer storms



 Vortex seen just off Mahon Harbour, yesterday.

Just a few hours later

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The 'Secret' in Mahon harbour

Like many other millionaires, the Walton (owners of the supermarket empire Wal-mart) have visited with their superyacht the port of Mahon.



Saturday, June 17, 2017

Purple Swamphen


Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio, also known as Sultana Bird, is a rare bird breading in Menorca in the last years with its large feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily recognisable in its native range.


 Photographer: Barbara Salva.

Romans kept purple swamphens as decorative birds at large villas and expensive houses. They were regarded as noble birds and were among the few birds that Romans did not eat. A purple swamphen is depicted at the bottom of the famous garden fresco from Pompeii.

Plinii the Elder already (AD 23 – AD 79), mentioned in his work Naturalis Historia that either Majorca and Menorca provided the Romans with those birds.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stone carved alquerque board.

Alquerque is known to date back at least as far as 1400BC, since boards have been found cut into the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt. A game called Quirkat is mentioned in an Arabic work of the 10th Century AD. 
The earliest set of rules is found in the 'Libro de Acedrex, Dados e Tablas', a magnificently illuminated manuscript compiled between 1251 and 1282 by order of the King of Leon and Castile, Alfonso X. The game's Spanish name, derived from 'El quirkat', was alquerque.
This stone carved alquerque board is located in Toraixer prehistoric site, in Es Castell.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wild flowers in May

Cistus salviifolius
Hippocrepis balearica

Ferula communis
Vicia benghalensis
Gladiolus illyricus
Anacamptis pyramidalis

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sanitja and Malva Sylvestris.



The Sanitja port or Sanisera is a natural port located next to the old roman town Sansiera. The port is in the Caballeria cape and it has an approximately lenght of 800 meters and very little depth which represent a perfect shelter against Tramuntana wind for boats.



The port isn’t very exploited and you can barely see few little wooden boats during high season. The entrance to the port used to be very protected by the Sanitja Tower, a british Tower of Defense built of stone and mortar in 1801. The inside of the tower can’t be visited because over time, it has deteriorated significantly and it’s almost demolished.



The scientific name, Malva sylvestris, is just as lovely as this flowering plant in the Malva genus, and is more popularly known as high mallow or common mallow. This plant is often found in fields and hedgerows and has a striking purple flower. It is native to western Europe, but has spread to portions of the Mediterranean and northern Africa, and has been imported to much of the English-speaking world. 

 The flowers and leaves of this unique herb are used for medicinal purposes, particularly in topical applications as a pain reliever.




Friday, April 21, 2017

Ornithogalum Arabicum



or Llágrimes de Sant Pere. 'Sant Peter's tears' is how we call this plant in Menorca.


In full flower, close to Algendar, today.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holly Week in Menorca. When the islanders express their devotion.



Although I am not a particularly religious person, I can not ignore the feeling of huge hurt and compassion shown in the processions of Holy Week in any town in Spain.

In Menorca, many people take part in the processions, either as Nazarenes, wearing their long tunics and hidden faces, or as part of the brotherhoods of centurions (representing the Roman soldiers who executed Jesus), or as components of the bands of drums and sacred music that accompanies them. 





 Our Lady of Solitude is one of the best-known and most widely-followed images in the town. 








The large group of brotherhoods, with their images, is really overwhelming.

All the pictures today, by Javier Coll.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Teatre Principal in Mahon.


Take your seat as the action begins and get transported to 17th-century Scotland and let the talented Orchestra Simfónica de Les Illes Balears and the Royal Opera de Valonia (Liegge) take you on an exhilarating, high-drama flight of murder and madness. From secret rendezvous between lovers and tragic duels at dawn to the chilling bel canto notes of the unhinged bride in Lucia's aria "Il dolce suono," this tale of star-crossed lovers unfolds entrancingly over three captivating acts.

Friday June 2nd at 9 PM and Sunday June 4th at 8 PM

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Binifaell Vell

Binifaell vell is the name of a farm that has existed for hundreds of years near Sant Climent. According to the inventory of archaeological sites in Menorca, there are the ruins of a Talayot of considerable size in their lands, so this morning I took advantage of the day to get there.

I have not been able to find the talayot. Although ancient ceramic remains are seen in different places and even a 'moló', which is a prehistoric hand mill, I have had to settle for photographing the old farm building and the flower of chicory.




Common chicory, Cichorium intybus is a perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae usually with bright blue flowers. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and is now common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized.



The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance"). It is not only an edible plant as it has also traditional medicinal uses.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spooky weather


Several tornadoes lashed last Saturday the west coast of the island and Cala Galdana. Fortunately there were no injured people but many trees plucked and small boats sunk


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Orchids blooming in the Spring.

Anacamptis pyramidalis is practically present on the whole island. At the beginning of summer, it often makes large colonies in meadows.

Its red-violet spike, conical at blooming, is quite distinctive. Flowers are numerous, close to each other showing a three-lobed lip and bearing some small lamellum-shaped excrescences at base. These lamellae are useful in guiding the proboscis of pollinating butterflies. 




According to the wikipedia this orchid is especially common on the Isle of Wight  and was designated the county plant in 2008. In Menorca is quite common too.

The dried and ground tuber gives a fine white powder, called salep. This is a very nutritious sweet starchlike substance. It is used in drinks, cereals and in making bread. It is also used medicinally in diets for children and convalescents.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cattle egret in the wet meadows at 'Sa Marjal'



The cattle egret is a popular bird with cattle herds for its well known role as a biocontroller of cattle parasites like flies and ticks. 


The presence of this bird in Menorca has gone from being sparsely wintering to abundant and sedentary in the last years. It can be seen in the newly plowed fields and accompanying the herds of cattle grazing in the meadows.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Es Fus de Sa Geganta




This Menhir, or standing stone, is very close to the prehistoric settelment of 'Torralba d'en Salort'. I have no doubt that it is in one way or another linked to it, althought  menhirs are not frequent among the works of the Talayotic culture of the primitive inhabitants of Menorca.

Its popular name 'Es Fus de Sa Geganta' means the Spindle of the Giantess and refers to one of the many legends that are told about it.


Another one of those legends speaks of a man of colossal dimensions that lived in the times in which the natives constructed the megalithic Taulas and Talayots that so much abound in Menorca. The inhabitants of the village worshiped him for his strength and ability to work and that admiration made him vain and arrogant.

The Gods, offended by this vanity, buried him beneath the earth and only left him a finger outside, pointing to the sky, pointing to the Gods who do not forgive that humans, however powerful they may be, forget that they are just that: humans.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mussuptá de Sa Talaia

One of the nine farms that have that name that has an unmistakable Arabic phonetic root and that, therefore, before the Spanish reconquest of the island, that is to say, more than 700 years ago, there was already in this area an extensive farm named Mussuptá.


It seems that winter is coming to its end and some changes are already perceived.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Malachite in Es Pla de Mar.


For years I had wanted to follow the trace of the malachite mineral that was extracted in Menorca from very ancient times. Experts say that mining has been carried out in the island from prehistoric times up until the end of the 19th century. 

Although there is no clear evidence of this, the filon that alternates malachite and lignite crosses the cliff and it is so colorful that it is not difficult to think that these small nodules that of mineral that appear could be collected and worked in small scale, as it happens in many other prehistoric communities.


Macar d'Alfurinet.
Copper mineral Thread


Malachite (a Copper Carbonate Hydroxide) is a famous semi-precious stone. The stone's name comes (via Latin and French) from the Greek molochitis, "mallow-green stone", from molochē, variant of malachē, "mallow". Its banded light and dark green layers are so characteristic that malachite is easily recognized, even by non-specialists. The beautiful green of Malachite has been known for millenia. It was mined by ancient civilizations, and when ground to a powder it was used as a pigment.

Malachite is typically associated with copper deposits within limestones (limestone being the source of the carbon in Malachite). 

Malachite from Es Pla de Mar.

Thus, and based on quotations from old archaeological works and more recent works on the history of local mining, we were looking for ore veins in the area of Costa de Alfurí, Cala Pilar and Bombarda until we found the old mines.

Nearby farm Sant Bernat

Splendour time for Almond Trees


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Senecio Rodriguezii blooming among the rocks.




The Senecio rodriguezii is an attractive small pink ragwort endemic to Mallorca and Menorca that loves the sea and grows on the coastal rocks sprinkled by the waves. In spite of its diminutive size does not go unnoticed, since its bright flowers of a vivid white and pink color emphasize on the brownish gray of the rocks burned by the sun and the salt.

 Sant Bernat
 Green fields on the way to Alfurinet.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Son Alberti

After four weeks of unpleasant cold and wet, very wet days, it seems that good weather has settled provisionally in Menorca.

I had wanted to revisit the area of Son Alberti and Biniarroi for some time. These two farms that once were prosperous, when the countryside in Menorca was productive and profitable, today are practically abandoned.

Son Alberti old farm
An old abandoned millstone is the witness of an activity that is lost today.

It is proven that the area was already populated more than two thousand years ago and in these lands rise a fortified redoubt that takes advantage of a curious rock of difficult access. Probably the first farmers of Menorca used the fertile lands at the bottom of the ravines and with watchtowers like this they could watch their lands and defend them if necessary.

 The fortified hillock.

 Two views of the valley that extends to the foot of the rock

Entrance to the cave