Monday, February 27, 2012

More action in the Aiguamolls

We returned to the Aiguamolls nature reserve mainly to check up on the flamingoes. It is a lovely spot to have a picnic, which we did, before beginning our walk. The resident cat again came to visit but this time wasn't hungry enough to chew on the large piece of multigrain bun I gave her. I think she really just wants company as long as you don't touch her. We have reached a truce.

From the first blind we looked right down on flamingoes feeding in the pond. One was particularly funny as it continuously shuffled its legs in place as it was feeding. There are definitely more flamingoes than last time we visited. They have been joined by even more moorhens, coots, cormorants and a variety of ducks as well as a number of great blue heron.

We eventually reached the field where we visited with the Camarague horses the last time we were here but it was flooded and no horses were in sight; but just before we reached the beach there they were in large numbers in a new field. In the distance we were pleased to see a very young colt close to its mother. Then we spotted another one perhaps a few days older. In my excitement I managed to receive a shock from the electric fence. Gradually, a few of the horses came close to the fence to visit and get some carrot sticks and fresh grass. This group included the mother with the new, brown, furry colt running beside her. He was beautiful. I was a bit indignant when one of the more greedy horses actually bit the mother and left a mark, but that's nature.

We stopped to watch the large number of white storks in their huge nests made of twigs in trees and on the man-made platforms. The nests are chosen early in the season by the males. There were probably at least fifty storks with many nests and one or two birds in each nest. Quite often the birds would preen each other as the storks are prey to mites. Then the silence would be broken by the machine gun rattling of a stork's beak. It was fascinating to watch as it stretched its neck so far back that its head touched its back  and the beak would make the rat-tat-tat noise. The pairs are monogamous during the breeding season and we did see some mating. So far no young have been hatched but we will come back in a few weeks to see the fledglings.

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