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Posts Tagged ‘national parks’

The Road Trip Part 2

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Ok, story so far: We have arrived in Martigues tired, hungry and feeling dirty from travelling.  So after booking into the Ibis motel and taken a much-needed shower we went down to supper, enjoyed a couple of stress relieving drinks then went to bed. We were woken by the noise of the traffic, now you have to remember that we do not hear any traffic noise at home so what was normal city noise to most of you was loud to us, but it was a good thing as we were able to have breakfast and get an early start.  We headed for Port St Louis which is one of the “gateways” to the Camargue.

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Now this is the place we were originally heading for. It’s a nice little port with a wide promenade and yacht basin and two hotels one at each end of the promenade.  As you can see from the pictures Michael is still fond of his boats, and headed along the pathway by the marina looking at the boats.  We also found the small market where local fishing boats sell their catches, very modern and run by the fishermen’s cooperative.  The boats, yachts and fishing boats were all intermingled including the lifeboat, with the visitors pontoon along the main edge of the promenade, as we sat in the shade of a bar drinking a fanta this one turned up.

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After our walk round Port St Louis we headed for the ferry to cross the Rhone. This is one hell of a wide river and the ferry is obviously  a very popular crossing. There was quite a queue and very busy even taking the odd lorry.  It cost us 5 euros to cross but the experience was well worth it as you can see from the pictures the Rhone is wide enough for large shipping.

Once on the other side we turned right as the map (yes we had one the tourist office was very kind) and headed out in to the Camargue.  Now I have always had this image of the Camargue as being marshy with lagoons filled with wild Black Bulls, White Horses and Flamingos.  In actuality we could not see much of anything in places as the canes and rushes were so high they blocked your vision.

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So our first sight of the Flamingos came suddenly when we came out into a clear part which gave us views of the lagoons. Off to the right was a large lagoon filled with Flamingos but a bit too far for our camera to get a good shot. This made the Navigator a little bit miffed so off she went along this little path that led to a fenced off standing space nearer the lagoon and got her picture. Not as clear or near as she would have liked but a little further on we had better luck. Here there were pull in’s for cars and coaches and as you can see the Flamingos were used to tourists as they carried on feeding despite the oos and ahhs from a coach load of Japanese tourists. Off went my Navigator  to take her pictures returning a happy soul. But although we had travelled quite a way we had seen neither Horses or Bulls then our luck changed……

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As I was driving along a tree-lined avenue I spotted some dark animals moving in the fields, we had found the famous Black Bulls.  Obviously we could not get closer but sat and watched as they munched away moving towards the cover of a small clump of trees.  Now all we had to do was find my horses!

First Glimpse

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First Contact

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Kiss Goodbye

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We were driving along when my Navigator said “Horses! Stop!”  so being a well-trained Driver I did as I was told. (really??)  What can I say, it was wonderful seeing them in their natural habitat. I spent a long time just talking to and stroking this wonderful animal, and watching the others enjoying the shade and their meal. One happy chappy had a wonderful day.  But it was not over yet nor had the weather finished with us.

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By now we were hungry so I headed for the coast and the small town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. It’s a pretty little place very popular with tourists and locals alike so we had a job finding a parking space but eventually we found a spot opposite a fish restaurant.  We wandered across and ordered up mussels with a side of chips plus a salad. Boy what a mistakea to makea, oh nothing was wrong with the food it was the amount that floored us.  I was really enjoying the meal when I heard a rumble and looking up I saw the sky was darkening and it began to rain ooops….  you can tell from these photos that my Navigator was trying to ignore all that.

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But we didn’t let it spoil our day we finished our meal and enjoyed our coffees as it poured down. Then we made a mad dash for the car oh these Flamingos? they were outside the restaurant plus this is a close as we got to Flamingos.

On the way back we went through several squalls and managed to get lost in Arles AGAIN….  After taking yet more detours round the area we eventually ended up on the right road and two tired but happy chappies headed for the hotel and bed.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the things I love about living where we do is the fact that no two days are the same.  Some times we look up at the maser behind us and see nothing, then looking a little  later there are the goats or Ibex on the ledge or the eagles flying along its length hunting.

So it was no real surprise when rounding a bend on my way home I came face to face with two young goats.  At first glance they looked more like young deer but as we don’t have any in our forest these were more likely the Ibex.  There are around four different types of goat and the Spanish Ibex does lean more to the deer than goat in both size and colour.  These two looked healthy with good coats of a chocolate colour that looked soft, with straight spiral horns although being young they were  short.

I don’t know who was more surprised  them or me.  I got the camera out but by this time they had decided it was time to go  and headed back into the forest.  It is comforting to know that they are around as it means the wild boar are also here.  We have not seen any for nearly 2 years but recently there have been signs they might be back.  When I was tidying up the track I noticed that a ‘trail’ led from the lower field to the south field and on into other parts of the forest.

 

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Until I moved here I was not a naturist, but the birds and animals we live with have taught us so much about the forest and the way they live. They have made us laugh, and enriched our lives that I don’t think I could not live in a city again.  Where else would a robin come up to the table  and peck your foot whilst you’re sitting drinking coffee to ask for a water bar so he and the other birds had some where to drink from during the very hot months.  Or sit  still whilst you took a couple of photographs.   Or a whole load of them sit  squawking outside your bedroom window because there was no water in their dish and still sit there whilst you filled it up.   This is what makes the finca so perfect for writing and inspired my wife to write the poems.

We have a diverse bird ‘family’ up here, all of them different in habits and song, which makes it a wonderful place, if noisy at times.  I have been thinking that we might do what a birding friend of ours Dena Rowlands ( enquiries@riverebroapartments.com)  has done.  A keen birder she set herself the task of spotting 200 different birds, We are not looking for ‘outsiders’  just the birds that are living up here  I think twenty is about the number so far.  It would be good to know the different types and hopefully get photographs  of them as well.  But  I have to admit that the one difficulty with that is they hide in the trees when the camera comes out, some really sneaky thought is needed here.

 

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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A while ago I wrote about the water situation here, but there was one thing I forgot to mention FIRE!

We were first aware of the situation when collecting water around 7am Thursday morning.

We could hear then we saw the firefighting helicopters with their buckets hanging down, Then this morning we could hear the float planes so we knew it was not over.

Normally it rains in April and May so there is no problem, but for the past 3-4 years it has been getting drier and drier and this year is no exception.  So far we have seen two huge fires one of which is still burning in the Monsant wine region.  I have spoken to a friend there and they are worried because a few vineyards have already gone.  In May there was a large fire which took out 18000 acres of both forest and vineyard.

What causes them? Well like the huge wild-fire in the Rockies, they can be started by lightning. It is unfortunate here but people seem to be the cause of these fires.  Then there is another bit of nature to contend with.  From around 10.30am the wind gets up and blows down our valley, strong enough to drive our wind generator.  If this is happening across the river in those vallies then they have a real problem and I think this must be happening as the smoke from the fire looks like a misty foggy haze.

What we really need are some summer storms or heavy prolonged rain.  It has been 37c here today and that was at 7.30pm, as I sit here I am sweating but all the windows are open there is a slight breeze but no respite.

I am so very very glad the bombers and Forestals are experts, at the moment of writing my wife has all my writing materials packed ready, just in case…..

(c) Michael Bosc

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A Purple Heron Lift-off

It’s lovely on the nature reserve at this time of year, I had heard about the storks but never actually been to see them for myself.  Then a friend took my wife to see it, she came back with all sorts of information and photographs that eventually I went with her to see for myself.  The nature reserve is in Flix, and runs along the river bank towards Riba-roja d’Ebre where they have now made a driveable road from the bridge at Riba-roja to Flix.

Entering from Flix you drive alongside the river for a while then come across the nature reserve information centre.  A small building where you can find as much information, literature as you want, see displays and purchase souvenirs, outside are covered parking places plus places for the disabled this is a well thought out reserve.  It is staffed by friendly, welcoming people, who are not only eager to get people interested in the reserve and nature, but also encourage people to come back plus all the written information is available in several languages.  Groups are welcome there are even guided tours in a horse-drawn cart so you can see the reserve  more easily.

Hidden behind the centre are the two hides. To get to them you walk along a path then raised duck boarding, this offers you views of the reeds, wild waterside flowers and trees. On the left you find the first hide, this overlooks a small marshy area surrounded by reeds with water running through. The best time to visit here is autumn through to spring, as the reeds are not tall enough to hide the view.  But even in early summer there is still plenty to see, if, you are patient.

The second hide is at the end of the duck board. This is facing a wide area of water, reeds and marsh. Here can be seen Purple Heron, King Fishers, Mallard, Osprey, Black Kite and if, our birding friend tells us, you are really lucky a Bittern or Spoonbill plus many more.  Then turning back to the Centre, you can walk along the road for about 3k  to the Storks,  if you have difficulty in walking long distances you can drive there. But either way do go slowly or you will miss an awful lot.

The Storks

Each year I stand and watch the humans as they wander by, ohhing and ahhing as they look at others flying in the sky.

I can see from here to there and watch my mate our nest repair, our neighbours stand tall and still.

With only the clacking of their bills, they talk and comment on the humans with their cameras poised.

School children adults some making lots of noise, but here I stand still as a stork my name Lork the Stork.

From our nests we scan the ground to see if danger is around, then off we fly in search of food to feed our mate or hungry brood.

The humans here provide nest sites and we build them here at certain heights, on one a camera can be found so they can see us breed.

How we rear our chicks and feed them, watch them grow who slowly turn from bundle of snow into a graceful fully fledged bird.

Then at the end when we depart all thats left are nests high on the perches until next season when we’re back our talking bills going clack clack clack.

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