Sunday, 2 September 2012

Wild horses in the Delta

Yesterday's challenging drive left me feeling quite tired this morning. After the ten o'clock service at Vinaròs, I stopped for a cup of coffee, something I don't normally do, but on this occasion I felt the need of a stimulant. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I came to the conclusion it was ten to twelve when it was in fact only ten to eleven. So, I set off in a rush, thinking I'd not left myself sufficient time for the 45 minute drive to L'Ampolla. The last ten minutes of the journey I spent rehearsing apologies for being late. When I arrived, I couldn't make out why the church was full of people singing to guitars. It took me a few moments to realise that the regular Catalan Catholic Mass preceding ours was in its closing stages. I was 55 minutes early, and needn't have driven so anxiously. Thankfully there was enough traffic en route going at the legal limit and hard to overtake, to prevent me from speeding. There's plenty of time for this journey. I don't know how I came to forget that.

After another leisurely picnic lunch at the camping Sant Jordi, I drove home via the Delta, making my way down the south bank of the Ebre river to Sant Jaume d'Enveja, to see the new bridge which links the town with Deltebre on the north bank.
Next to the approach road to the bridge, rice harvesting was under way. I noticed a lorry laden with grain crossing the bridge to deliver it to the huge co-operative storage facility outside Deltebre on the north side of the river.
From here I followed the line of the river down towards the sea to the ten metre high observation tower at the Bassa de l'Alfacada. In every direction from here the views are a spectacular mix of gold, green and blue.
Rice fields and salt marshes face each other across a canal. In the direction of the sea shore, mingling of salt and sweet water, sand and river silt has created a collection of small environments with a diversity of ecosystems, supporting different birds and marine life.
Flamingos were feeding across the river tributary from the observation tower in a pond with a few of the remaining wild horses of the Delta standing in the middle of it - to keep cool? I wondered.
On the return journey, I noticed how attractive waterlogged recently harvested rice fields are to bird life. The disturbed ground gives them an opportunity to feed on insects if not tiny aquatic creatures. I counted a dozen purple herons, many more ordinary grey ones, three cormorants, countless terns and gulls in just a brief stop to marvel at the scene. Such a rewarding hour on the way back from church.

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