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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lazy days in San Pere Pescadore, Kingfishers, Shearwaters then a 3 point turn enforces the help of Catalan mechanics

I've moved on of course and now around the plains of Lleida. Its been decidedly foggy for the past 4 days so pics have been thin on the ground but I've had my moments and will include in the next post.

So here's the second part of my days around Emporda and beyond....

Kinda felt I'd outstayed my welcome in the car park at El Cortalets so moved a few kilometres south to a beach side spot for campervans at San Pere Pescadore.

Mouth of the Rio Fluvia

How wonderful it is to have a bike on board! During my 3 days at the beach me and the bike went all over the place – into town for provisions, the odd bar visit and all around the various tracks along the coast there.
This is the mouth of the Rio Fluvia, the southernmost of the 2 rivers that empty into the Med in this area..10 mins on the bike!

Englishman abroad aboard a bike!
10 minutes later I was enjoying prolonged views of a Kingfisher and probably my best ever photo shots as this one fished from a wall alongside the river mouth.
Kingfisher, Rio Fluvia
Back at the ranch and with the Med like an absolute millpond in almost zero wind, I enjoyed several long lazy sit downs on the beach gazing out to sea!

During the entire time I was there, there was a flock of appx 160 Balearic Shearwaters in the bay and though mostly distant they occasionally came close enough to photograph. You can see the odd gull in amongst and I know friends and colleagues who'd be wanting to id them but all I was seeing were Black Headed & Yellow Legged Herring Gull

Balearic Shearwaters, San Pere Pescadore

Balearic Shearwaters, San Pere Pescadore

Balearic Shearwaters, San Pere Pescadore
Pretty amazing to get half decent pics of any Shearwaters, such are their ocean going tendencies and these are certainly my best to date of any Shearwater species.

Black Throated Diver on the Med at San Pere Pescadore

Along with the Shearwaters there were also a couple of Black Throated Divers, bit distant but showing reasonably well and enough of a pic of the bill to distinguish from Red Throated.

I heard that at about the same time there were gale force winds and snow blizzards in the UK, well I've got freezing fog now so what comes around goes around and sorry to sound so smug...  but these were some of the balmiest January days I can ever remember!

Starlings across the Pyrenees

Always warmer on the coast of course and you can clearly see on these pics of Starlings coming into roost in the reeds of Emporda and across a backdrop of a section of the Pyrenees... that it ain't that warm inland and higher up!

... but at sea level things carry on and even the commonest birds provide me with all the entertainment I need to make a bike ride worthwhile....

Cormorants fishing in formation on the Rio Fluvia

Black Headed Gulls getting feisty! Pre breeding territorial behaviour?

Gaffer tape don't hide it all!

Argh...maybe I should have stayed put because I had my first mishap of the trip the day I left the balmy Med coast. En route for Lleida and some Steppe habitat I spotted a lovely spot from the van and thought it was worth a stop off. Ended up going down a track I thought might deteriorate so I looked for a likely turn-around spot and failed to look hard enough ... the result, an all too familiar 'crunch' of bumper hitting hard material... Ah and it was all going so well!

The place in question was about here nr the town of Artes

...and what I was seeing was this sort of thing and was actually where the Rierra Garressa, a tributary of El Lobregat that in turn empties into the Med through Barcelona, happened to pass close to the C25 motorway I was happily progressing along! Big note to self - the bike is for exploring and van doesn't do tracks!

So that was me for the day. Ironically, if I'd carried on just a little further I would have found the perfect reversing spot but it was found too late, it was a Sunday and nothing to be done except explore till the morning. With no working offside indicator, effectively I couldn't turn left safely... and that's tricky on any continent.  Best call the RAC!

Wandering around I was semi consoled by the fact that I'd been seduced and then snaffled by a beautiful vista that many of my kind would have fallen for, I was semi justified but still felt like an idiot abroad, even the hills seemed to be talking to me!

#SiSi  is of course part of something far more important than me straying onto the wrong side of the tracks ... Independence for Catalyuna!  I'd vote for it if I were from around here ... proud people, good people.

 ... if you saw this from the motorway wouldn't you want to stop? 

Rierra Garessa nr Artes
Stop I had to do and this was a good thought gathering spot....

thinking spot, nr Artes

Black Redstart, Artes

Tramping around with the noise of the motorway ever present and mulling over my options I did see a few things ... 5 new species of birds for the trip in fact - Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker (amazingly), Crested Tit, Treecreeper and Firecrest. Got pics of none of em and you wouldn't thank me for drab Dunnock would you?

 A nicely posed Black Redstart, of which there are many in almost every kind of habitat, and a cheeky Robin of which there are even more, did get my focus though.

Robin, nr Artes

The van was sorted reasonably quickly the next day -  took me 2 hrs to find the Fiat garage RAC pointed me to in Manresa, 1 hr to explain that I didn't want the bumper repaired.. just the indicator, 1 hr for them to suggest a Spanish lighting panel ... 2 hrs to fit. Hey look they were friendly, helpful, I was hopeless with my Spanish, the job got done, I'm road worthy again and not likely to get stopped by el policia (that would never do) .... and I had the chance to chance to hang around downtown Manresa  ..  as Catalan as you get, in fact the flags and banners on these pics are replicated in just about every town and village in Catalyuna ... they want independence and I'm with 'em, I've had nothing but smiles from these proud Catalans and I love their spirit. find out if they deserve it more than Scotand by clicking here



Catalan flags everywhere

Got some new walking boots here though whilst I was walking around Manresa and waiting for those Catalan mechanics to do their stuff....some original Spanish Paredes for a good price. Slight oversight with the boots I bought in the UK ... too f****** small! - should have tried em on first I suppose!

Already had my first Spanish adventure then .... really must take care of this van now it's patched up, New bumper will cost me £200 from Swift when I get back but hey ho -  I live andI learn, I'm very alive and hell yeah clocked up 118 bird species to date!! I push on through the fog!


  1. Cheers Brian ... Costa Blanca bound after Ebro, and some warmer nights I hope!

  2. Hi Timbo Baggins, thought you might be interested to know that your old van has been renamed 'Le Betsy' and is now parked up a barn in our new place in North Charente. She's been brilliant all around, Spain, Portugal, France back to the UK and then back to France again. Let us know if you're anywhere near Ruffec, we'd love to catch up. We have lots of wildlife on our land for you to photograph. Tim and Jo xx

  3. Hi there you 2, so pleased my old van has stood the test. My new one lacks the manouverability of 'le betsy' but more room space.... pros n cons and all that. My sister and partner live in the Charente in Montmorrillon and I'll be passing back that way in March so yes I'd love to catch up