Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Finally, flamingoes!

We thought that we would take advantage of sale time in Spain and visit our favourite furniture stores in Empuriabrava. Since the day was so beautiful we thought that we would repeat last week's picnic and visit the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l'Emporda. Once we  arrived at the main entrance we set up our picnic on one of the picnic tables but unfortunately we had a Persian looking cat with blue eyes harass us for food. I think it may have been a wild cat as it just wanted food and definitely not pats. Seamus finally gave it a little piece of smoked salmon, which it devoured at double speed. It still kept hanging around and finally Seamus gave it a hunk of multigrain baguette, which it chewed away at until it was finished. Despite this the picnic was quite lovely especially when a muster of white storks flew over.

We set off down the trail passing several storks perched in their nests clacking their beaks like castanets. Then we passed the local cows, brown with short horns. Number 8742 seemed especially interested in us. The clang of the horse bells as they were munching came from the next field. We checked two blinds but things were pretty quiet, just a few ducks.

Today there seemed to be more Camarague horses than last time.These horses date back to paleolithic times and were used to round up wild bulls. These horses live in a huge field covered in water, which is probably salt and they put their faces right in the water to get at the grasses underneath. We watched them pawing at the ground to loosen up the vegetation. As we were watching them, one came over and I fed it some grass from our side of the fence; then another came over and finally there were five horses and two colts. They were all very well behaved and not one pushed any of the others out of the way. One colt was smaller and chocolate brown and the other a bit lighter with a quite white face. They were all beautiful.

Finally, we passed through the dunes and reached the really wide, sandy beach that goes for miles. Next time we come down here we may just go for a long walk along the beach. We retraced our steps feeding the two Camarague colts as we passed them. Nearer the entrance we heard some birds laughing and discovered that it was ten or twelve cormorants perched in a tree. We discovered a short path to a blind overlooking the biggest ponds in the park. Here more cormorants perched on a log, and all kinds of duck and geese were swimming around. I thought one big bird was a swan, but no, when it lifted its head I saw it was a flamingo wading in water as high as its long legs. And even better, in the distance through the binoculars I could see more flamingoes. We headed to the blind on the other side of the pond to get a better view. As we were going along the path to the blind there was a brilliant pheasant nestled in the grass. One look at us and it ran off into the long grasses.

We joined some other people in the blind to watch the flock of flamingoes either perched on one leg watching the action in the pond or wading all over the pond and ducking their heads in the water for food. A few of the flamingoes were pink but the rest were pale grey or even white looking. We were fascinated by the number and the variety of birds in the pond, white storks on the edge, great blue heron, huge geese, cormorants and multicoloured ducks. Flamingoes at last. What a successful day.

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