On Monday we’d joined our walking group to ascend a mountain called El Cau, which overlooks the Jalón valley. It’s a long, more or less continuous climb going up about 525m. There are several false summits – you think you’ve got to the top only to see another peak that was hiding behind the one you just walked up – so it can be a bit frustrating for some. Incidentally, once you get to the true peak, you’re smack on the Greenwich meridian.
The descent begins quite steeply but is mostly down a narrow track lined with very scratchy bushes. Unfortunately one of Francine’s tendons around one knee seemed to take exception to the descent and began grumbling. So today we took it easy to aid recovery – a little stress-free light exercise to keep things moving but not do any further damage.
We chose to go to Altea for a wander on the flat. It was a good decision because it turned out to be 3°C warmer than Jalón and sunnier. It’s a bit too touristy in that most voices overheard are either English or Dutch but I did hear one or two Spanish. The promenade is flat with lots of bar/restaurants that were doing a brisk trade. The most interesting area for us, though is the mouth of the Algar river which runs through some reed beds as it spills out into the Mediterranean.
There were plenty of flowers on the rough ground beside the reed beds and I was taken with a flower with bi-coloured petals. Francine, of course, spotted a family resemblance and correctly placed it in the chrysanthemum family. I really should learn more about plants. It’s a so-called Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum coronarium) and this bicolored job (with a slightly badly behaved petal) is known as discolor. At least I’ll remember that one, now.
That’s the flora interest, now onto the fauna. Francine spotted a large Moorhen-like bird disappearing around some reeds. We waited, discussing sizes relative to a Coot, and eventually it reappeared, not minding that we approached a little closer. It was purple-ish, with red legs and huge red feet and sported a red plate structure above its bill. I remembered seeing something very similar in Australia previously and names featuring “swamp” and “hen” sprang to the fore. Sure enough, this was a Purple Swamp-hen (Porphyrio porphyrio). It is a relative of our familiar Coot and Moorhen.
That’s it. Lazy day over.