Monday, April 29, 2013

Back enjoying the delights of home turf

Back in the Port we have spent the last week preparing for our next guests, who arrive tomorrow. The weather has been like something Noah would appreciate but fortunately bright skies return tomorrow.

On the last sunny day we admired fisherman unloading a catch of octopus, still living, from a large cage that was piled high with them. Each octopus was placed in a bag, then when it was full over it went to the fish wholesalers. It was fascinating to watch all the different sizes of octopus. Some were huge and had great, long tentacles.

On the same day we decided to visit our friends in the Aiguamolls nature reserve, since we hadn't been there for a while. The drive through the countryside was especially beautiful with all the fields of bright yellow flowers and orange poppies. I was very lucky to spot a European hoopoe as soon as we arrived. This is a really striking bird about 28 centimetres tall with pinkish brown plumage and black and white bars on its wings and crest. Unfortunately, it is a very camera shy bird. Another time.

It was difficult for us to believe that the ponds were once again more full than usual. Some turtles were sunning themselves in what was left of their island. All the geese had migrated to their summer homes along with most of the ducks. There were still a few mallards and a new brood of ducklings along with some coots and moorhens. Watching the flamingoes was like watching a ballet with their heads under the water feeding and their legs covered by the water. Only the tutus, their bodies, floated along the water.

The storks were being very vigilant sitting on their nests and changing with their partners. We can tell that some baby storks have been hatched; we can't see them but we can see very active gullets regurgitating food to feed the babies.

All the vegetation along the pathways was quite dense. Primavera is truly here with all the wild yellow irises lining the route. We'll be watching the fig trees, where already the figs are quite a size. There were lots of songbirds but unfortunately we couldn't see them.

A flash of bright red alerted us to a beautiful male pheasant. It was much harder to spot his mate in her dowdy beige feathers. Some other ponds were filled with black and white stilts quietly wading and feeding. This same pond had some white Camargue ponies sloshing through the water to graze on the grass. They don't seem to mind getting wet.

On the way home we spotted a lovely, dark blue-grey Eurasian Hobby, a very elegant falcon. I hope that the birds are coping with the rain better than we are.



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