Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lots of spring activity in the wetlands

After the coldest, wettest and one of the windiest days of the winter finally a lovely day with beautiful blue skies. It was a day to visit the Aiguamolls nature reserve. After passing some flooded fields that were attracting giant white egrets and lots of greenery everywhere, we arrived at the Aiguamolls.

Before we left the car we could hear the deafening clacking of the giant white storks. The first nest already had a pair of nesting storks. Although we hardly see any song birds because of the dense vegetation they were in full voice today. The first blind was quite full with enthusiastic birders watching mallards, brightly coloured northern shovelers, gadwalls, ruddy shellducks, a few greylag geese and  some coots. On the far side of the pond the flamingoes were foraging for food. There were the usual black cormorants drying their wings, Great blue heron resting on an island and lots of gulls and moorhens.

The stork's nests had one or two storks in attendance with lots of building going on. Spring was definitely in the air with much courting activity. The male stork would fluff up his chest feathers, stretch his neck the full length of his back and then raise his tail feathers into a fan. All this was accompanied by much loud beak clacking. This behaviour was repeated over and over throughout the stork colony.

We passed a field filled with white Camargue ponies and one newly born, tiny brown colt that would first try to move from one leg and then the other. It was the same motion that you would use as stretching on alternate legs. That was all the colt could manage before flopping down on the ground. On our return trip past the ponies an hour later,  it had mastered walking but it was staying very close to its mother. I think the colt was born either in the morning or shortly before we saw it.

Near the end of our walk, our friend spotted a baby otter in a hole in a stump right near the water. Since it was quite curious it kept popping its head out of the hole. It was truly lovely with a beautiful, shiny lustrous coat.

After lunch in Empuriabrava, we finished our day driving by all the houses on the canals ending up at the vast expanse of sandy beach. Although blowy, we enjoyed our windy walk past the make-up cricket game on the beach to the main boating channel. It was exhilarating to be out in the fresh air after our mixed weather of late.

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