Friday, October 8, 2021

Wetlands in Drought

 Early in September I returned to the Aiguamolls to see the birds. There was visibly less water but there were still birds there feeding. I found the same black-winged stilts, wood sandpipers, moorhens, and little egrets, although maybe fewer than before. I don’t remember seeing ducks.

But when I came back two weeks later, in the middle of September, there was no water and no birds. It was a depressing sight and I haven’t been back since. Where do they go when the ponds dry up?

This is the field where, on one of my first visits,
I found horses and white storks grazing peacefully together.
The greener area was the pond.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Wetlands in Flight

 All through the summer there has been very little rain. When I went to the wetlands a month ago, the drought was apparent with the pond visibly lower than it had been just a week before and there were fewer birds. But there were still some there having their lunch: black-winged stilts, wood sandpipers, moorhens, mallards, and little egrets.

So I settled in to see if they were just going to wade around and eat, or if something might happen. And as luck would have it, they did decide to fly a little bit, maybe just to please me because I was being so patient.

Black-winged Stilt

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Behind: Black-winged Stilt
In front: Wood Sandpiper

Little Egrets

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Murky Waters

When I go out to take photos, I sometimes have a plan and sometimes I don't, but if I do, I know that it’s also good to be flexible. Maybe the weather’s not right, maybe those glorious fields of rapeseed flowers have been harvested, or maybe the birds didn’t show up. But none of those unfortunate circumstances mean that I can’t shoot something else or the same thing but with a different perspective.

That’s what happened this week at the wetlands. It finally cooled off enough to venture out and drive over. But this time I went to a different pond – the second of the only two ponds that are being suupplied with water from the park’s reserve through the summer. 

There I found nothing exotic (by that I mean flamingos). But I did find a species I hadn’t seen before. Of course being that I’ve only recently started trying to identify birds, maybe I had seen them. In fact, from a distance I thought they were ducks. My bird book said they were coots. It seems they run across the surface of the water when they take off to fly, but I didn’t see that.

So what I did see was coots, ducks, gulls (couldn’t figure out which type – there are several), and a white stork, a gull, and a little egret in flight. The murky water and reflections produced photos that were more interesting than their subjects. It was a good day. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Wetlands 4. Franklin the Flamingo

Once upon a time there was a pond just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean. Lots of birds came to sit and stand and eat in this pond. Some were permanent residents, while others had tourist visas for passing through on their way north and south. Mallards, coots, stilts, storks, grey herons, egrets, and others stood and swam and ate things they found in the water while swallows flew overhead screeching and eating bugs.

But the king of the pond was the flamingo. He cleaned, preened, ate, and coexisted with the others, but he was the undisputed soverign, and his name was Franklin.

Franklin could tolerate many of the smaller birds in his space. He got along famously with the ducks, although his sidekick was the stilt.

Franklin liked to dance and could sometimes be seen doing ballet exercises and yoga.

He was a sporting kind of guy and would often played a game with his little pal the stilt to see who could stand longer on one leg.

He could also tolerate some of the bigger birds, as long as they didn’t number too many. But one day when three Little Egrets flew in, he got upset. Little Egrets aren’t as little as all that and anyway three already made a congregation and that was intolerable.

So Franklin began to huff and puff and fluff up his feathers, getting ready for battle. Once he finished with the huffing and fluffing, he rushed across the pond to confront the interlopers.

At first the egrets weren’t particularly impressed with this show of force. But eventually one of them decided there were better, more peaceful ponds to be found, and he took off.

During the fracas, one white stork managed to sneak into the pond, but Franklin didn’t notice. The stork hung around, hiding at the other end of the pond while some of the swallows rested and watched from the nearby trees.

Franklin, having made his point, was satisfied and strode on back to his favorite part of the pond, put all his feathers back into place, and peace (and Franklin) reigned once again.