Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lots of activity at the Aiguamolls

Today was our first trip to the Aiguamolls Nature Reserve in many months. The last time, there were very few birds other than the colony of storks and their young that had started to fly. Most had flown off to their summer homes. It was a muggy, overcast day with rain threatening. We arrived to much clacking of the black storks' beaks. What a noise they were making.

Our first stop is the blind near the entrance and main buildings which overlooks several ponds. What a surprise! There were approximately two hundred storks young and old and hundreds and hundreds of mallards in the water and on the islands. We have never seen the ponds so busy. And even better, in the far distance we spotted some flamingoes.

We negotiated the path to the blind at the far end of the pond. A few classes of enthusiastic five-year-olds racing each other passed us dressed in their very smart teal and red tracksuits. They were blissfully oblivious to the "Silence Please," signs.

Once we settled in the far blind we were very close to the flamingoes. There were at least fifteen of them, some very pink and a few white. There were five of them in a group all shuffling their feet to stir up the bottom in their search for food. A cormorant had its wings out to dry sharing a log with some gulls and mallards. There were a few northern shoveler ducks and many more storks.

Back on the main trail we passed the old barn, its roof adorned with four or five huge nests, which surprisingly were still occupied. In fact storks were in residence in all the nearby trees and platforms that make up the main nesting area, as well as standing around in the surrounding fields. We don't know if these storks have just arrived or if they never left and we wonder if its normal for the flamingoes to be here so early. We will have to return soon to find answers to our questions.

Since it was well past our regular lunchtime by the time we left the Aiguamolls, we decided to go to our favourite restaurant, the Blue Sky Cafe. The Italian chef produces the best value "menu del dia." Today I had porcini mushroom risotto that had an incredible taste. We thought that you couldn't find porcinis in this part of Spain but someone picks them locally and sells them to the restaurant. In fact we now know the area where they come from. Porcinis are a delicacy that can't be found in our markets. In Italy they may sell for €30 a kilo or even more. Weather permitting we may go porcini hunting one day but if we are lucky and find any, we will keep the spot secret. That is the way with porcini hunters, the spots are jealously guarded.

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