Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dawn delight

I woke at first light, aware that Clare would soon be on her way to the Heath hospital for day surgery eye appointment, thankfully with support from a good neighbour, with me so far away, and only able to message her good wishes. I couldn't get back to sleep, so with a little effort, I got up, dressed and made my way to the road bridge overlooking the nearby Rio Aguas nature reserve, to watch the sunrise, and anything else that might happen.

It seemed that there were even more coots out in the open waters of the lake than I saw last night, dozens of them, dabbling, fighting, calling to each other. Then there were bats on their odd jagged flight paths just over the water, with occasional intrusions from more elegantly aerobatic swifts. The big surprise was fish 20cm long jumping clean out of the water, several times in a row. Also insect hunting I wondered. A spectacular morning twilight dance. 

There were several kinds of birdsong unfamiliar to me coming from tall grasses either side of the lake. I caught sight of a reticent Purple Gallinule browsing for food among waterside reeds, then a few egrets appeared, then a few more, then a lot more as the sun appeared over the horizon. At first, they attached themselves to reeds or nearby trees, and roots for a while. Then without warning, groups of them would take to the air and fly west inland up the valley, to wherever they expected to find their next food. At a guess, there were several hundred birds hiding overnight in the surrounding reed beds. 

At this time of year reeds produce a white cotton like puffball on the stem. I think it may contain seed. At a distance in the half light, there could be no better hiding place for the egrets. Although larger than the puffball, they are equally as plain and white, clinging to a reed.

Just as I was about to leave, I spotted a group of six Mallards, and then tiny diving duck, probably a teal. I took a burred photo of this, plus a few more of Purple Gallinules feeding, and then, too quickly for me to react, the vivid blue flash of a Kingfisher, flying under the bridge, the length of the lake. Such a blessed morning hour. You can find my photos here

After breakfast I spent the rest of the morning editing and uploading photos, receiving and sending emails. I was ready for a siesta after lunch, but made the effort to walk later in the afternoon. This time I went south along the promenade, further than I went before, until I'd done 6-7 km or so. I was looking for a shop, well most probably a Chinese supermarket, selling cheap sun hats, as I'd left mine at home. I got lucky just as I was about to turn for home, and purchased a white sombrero, for 5€ a bit too small for my big head - it'll need stretching - but it's necessary. I've got used to wearing a hat this past few years, and even though the sun is less strong than it was last month, I won't risk over-exposure.

The south end of the promenade seems from its buildings to be the older part of Mojacar Playa, with many more smaller shops, restaurants and a few houses on the beach side of the road, and generally not looking as neat and tidy or as up-market as the northern reaches of the town. Around the junction of the road up to Mojacar's pueblo viejo is the most developed, with a shopping mall, some gardens, the Post Office, and some posh shops and bars. So, development seems to have extended a good 4km from the 'centre' to the north over the past few decades. Eventually, I guess, the entire sea front from Mojacar to the neighbouring mineral exporting port of Garrucha will be a built up area, but hopefully developed according to the same coherent planning concept that has made the north reaches of Mojacar Playa fairly pleasing to the eye.

Walking the streets this past few days, I've heard as much French spoken among holidaymakers as English. What I find puzzling is the large number of Italian themed eating houses, offering pasta or pizza. Few unashamedly English, French or Spanish for that matter, unless this exists as a default but isn't promoted. The built environment and landscape says 'Spain', but the cuisine less evidently so. I wonder what's the reason for this?

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