Sunday, January 13, 2013

An afternoon in the aiguamolls

It was time for another visit to the Aiguamolls Nature Reserve to check on our feathered friends. We were greeted by a robin redbreast in the parking lot. On the way to the first blind we could hear lots of ducks and geese. It was no surprise that the pond was teeming with mallards, black headed northern shovelers, teals,  rusty pochards and northern pintails with their yellow feathered tails. Black coots were skittering on top of the water. The funniest birds were the greyling geese that managed a spectacular synchronized swimming performance all standing on their heads under the water at one time with the rest of their bodies pirouetting gracefully on the surface. One ragged Great Blue Heron shared a log with some ducks and geese. There were eight deer on one island lying down soaking up the sun. We didn't see any spoonbills or great flamingoes in this pond but they could have been foraging in one of the many ponds in the reserve that can't be seen.

The water level, which is controlled by flood gates and irrigation ditches, was very high. In some cases it was almost up to the path we were walking along. Further into the park we watched some black cormorants perched on the top branches of a tree. We kept hearing a funny clicking sound and as we got nearer we thought it was a short in one of the electrical fences. It well could have been that because in the adjacent field was a lovely rust coloured vaca marinera or sea cow. Only this was no cow but a magnificent bull. The sea cow used to be native to the Emporda, where it was used for pulling boats from the water and for farm traction. Apparently, it didn't give much milk so it was replaced by other types of cows. Today it is extinct but is being regenerated from the Menorca cow.

Some storks were foraging in the open fields along with a big brown ruff and some spiky topped northern lapwings. Perhaps the highlight of today's walk was spotting the small, elegant red-footed falcon with its orange-buff crown.

By now it was dusk. On our way home we spotted a field filled with little and great egrets. Further along the road a fox with a huge bushy tail darted across the road in front of us.

We had worked up quite an appetite on our walk today. An espresso and two banyuls or little sugary coated donuts at a local bakery managed to revive us.


No comments: