A Sunny Lagoon

Having piqued Francine’s interest with a dawn photo shoot at Moraira, we did manage to kick ourselves out of bed early one morning in an attempt to get back there before the sun. We were even brave enough to try to take el perrito, Scamp, with us in the car  – I thought taking him for a walk along the front might amuse me while Francine played landscape photographer.

Our first challenge was to find the dog’s seatbelt. No, I haven’t flipped, I did mean the dog’s seatbelt. How many times have you seen unruly dogs clambering all over the front seats of cars, possibly even the driver, causing what can only be described as an unacceptable danger to safety in this country? At the very best, the dogs tend to sit in the middle of the backseat staring forward and obscuring any view for the driver through the rear view mirror. Such situations are illegal in Spain – a dog in a car must be restrained by a seatbelt on the rear seat. Actually, the seatbelt is really a short leash from the dog’s collar/harness which clips into the seatbelt anchor point. What a brilliant idea. (Incidentally, loose shopping bags perched on the rear seat are also illegal, lest you get smacked in the back of the head by a flying can of baked beans.)

Francine found Scamps’ car restraint and tried it out. Scamp looked quite excited. I found a car windscreen caked in solid frost. I failed to find anything resembling an ice scraper. (Who’d think of needing an ice scraper in Spain?) Time was marching on; the sun would beat us to Moraira. We weren’t going anywhere. Scamp looked a little deflated.

As a consolation prize, once the day had warmed up and the sun had thawed out the car’s windscreen, Francine and I left Scamp to his own devices and popped into Calpe to look around the salt water lagoon again. It was too windy to be much good on our first visit. This time life was much more pleasant and the wildlife seemed to think so too.

J01_4599 CormorantsThe lagoon’s normal inhabitants, Greater Flamingos, were off in the distance being un-photogenic but a gang of Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) was being much more cooperative. I used a few pixels on these from the roadside before we set off through the scrub surrounding the lagoon.

J01_4612 Black RedstartWe kept disturbing birds of one sort or another as we walked through the scrub but the only time I spotted them was after I’d made them fly away. Frustrating. Eventually we came to the wooden boardwalk, built a little way out into the lagoon as an observation point. The lagoon itself wasn’t doing much but the hand rail of the boardwalk was being used quite frequently by a number of smaller birds. I picked a spot and waited. Sure enough, eventually one of Spain’s more abundant but photographically elusive birds, a Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), settled for an albeit distant shot.

J01_2403 Sardinian Warbler maleJ01_4610 Sardinian Warbler femaleI’d snagged a few shots without really thinking much about the subjects. Back at home base I found that one of my subjects had been my first encounter with a female Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala). Nice to have the matched pair – we’d snagged the male of the species on our previous Spanish trip. (He’s on the right for comparison.)

J01_4615 StonechatOur return trip to the car was uneventfully, save for an educational Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) that sat sunning itself. I say educational because the act of my putting it up on iSpot got me into a taxonomic conundrum again. This is another little feller that’s changed it’s scientific name from S. torquata, or S. torquatus, depending on your original source. Honestly, they don’t give you a chance, do they? We really must get a more up-to-date Collins Field Guide.

At least we’d seen some sun even if not sunrise.

Posted in 2013 Spain

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