Saturday, December 8, 2012

Checking on the birds


This morning we had a big market in the village, which attracted lots of people as yesterday was Constitution Day and tomorrow is Immaculate Conception, both national holidays in Spain, and a good excuse for a long weekend. Since the sun was shining and there was no wind we decided to visit the Aiguamolls nature reserve taking the route up over the mountain behind us.

It was a slow climb as we had to follow several of the cows that live in the mountains. Today they decided to move location following the road and leaving it strewn with cow pats. At first we thought these cows were wild but now we don't think so; however no one ever accompanies them.

Once over the mountain we stopped in one of the Emporda agrobotigas, where we bought some figs in syrup and some fig jam. Notice the fig theme this week.

The parking lot at the Aiguamolls was quite busy since many people have taken a long weekend. Walking along the path to the first pond we spotted a lone water rail strutting in the dense grasses. It is a brownish bird about the size of a chicken. The first series of ponds were teeming with so many birds that there was standing room only on some of the little islands. There were still lots and lots of mallards but this time they had to share the pond with some northern shovelers, tufted ducks and lots of greylag geese. There were shiny black shags and greater cormorants lined up on a log. Two flamingoes had their pink and black under feathers fluffed up. Depending on their sex, they were either making a mating display or challenging each other. A large white spoonbill moonwalked backwards stirring up the bottom of the pond to find food, watched by two lone white storks and some great blue herons.


We continued down the main path passing a tree felled by recent high winds. This particular tree housed two huge stork's nests. Those storks won't be pleased when they return. The next pond had more mallards and a tree filled from top to bottom with cormorants. We spotted several raptors in the area, long legged and common buzzards, a sparrow hawk and a merlin. We climbed up a ladder to the second floor of the next blind. Against the darkening sky we watched a tree full of fat common wood pigeons. Suddenly, beneath them, four deer appeared and browsed their way along the field. But best of all far off in the field was a deer lying down, who eventually flopped over for a nap in the sunshine. He was joined by another deer a few metres away.

The finale of the afternoon was the stunning sunset of mottled black and shades of red  mixed with the twilight blue of the sky. Beautiful.

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