Friday, 18 March 2016

Spain 2016 - Special announcement and Ria Formosa

So the special announcement is that I am a Gramma again. Mike and Aimee had Maya Quinn Sweeton this morning, 1a.m. their time. Slightly premature, but everything looks fine. I have yet to see her, just a picture on Christine's blog but hoping to Skype soon. Isn't technology wonderful.

We took Joan back to Faro airport today and stayed 'til we were sure she was safely checked in. As we had gone that far anyway we stopped at Olhao, just outside Faro, to go to the Natural Park of Ria Formosa.
Ria Formosa was established in 1987 and encompasses 60km of coast and over 18,000 hectares of land in front of Faro and coast to the East. It is an area of natural barrier islands, warm protected lagoons behind, salt marshes and dune habitats.
Dad stayed in the car and Mum and I walked the 3km trail. We have become quite engrossed with the variety of wild flowers. This is one we hadn't seen before. Almost looks like the Friesa you see in the florists at home.
Lupins are prolific here, yellow or blue. I had no luck transplanting Lupins from Paris to Long Pint but these are growing just fine on sand. I need to find some Mediterranean Lupins in Canada.
We didn't spend much time in the visitors centre (just used the bathroom actually) but it had displays
and an auditorium which we assume had a movie.

We walked through  pine forest and then down to the coast, dunes, wildflowers and the barrier islands in the distance. There were very few visitors when we were there and it was lovely.

Tiny little yellow flowers covering the ground.
Lots of Lupins.
The tidal mill here had been used up until 1970. It has been carefully restored. Mum remembers when they were here before that there was a gift store and she bought me back some sea salt (for looking after their dog while they were away). It is in need of more restoration now so no longer in operation.
From the roof of the mill, looking over low tide. You can just see how the mud flats have been divided by markers, stones or nets. These delineate the shellfish farms where clams are harvested ( 1,000 hectares of shellfish farms, nearly 80% of Portugal's clam exports come from Ria Formosa)
Egret fishing too. There are a couple of lagoons to birdwatch at but the tide was out and it was getting on so we didn't.

Next along the trail is a hide overlooking a small freshwater pond.

A Little Grebe, no that's it's name, Little Grebe.
A Shoveler shoveling.

A Coot.
A Moorhen. At first we thought she was a Coot but when I put the photos on the computer we could see she is a Moorhen and I say she because...
she had two very shy babies following her in the water and dodging around in the reeds (very difficult to get a photo).

Next on the trail, there were Roman Salting Tanks. The Romans used this area to preserve their fish catch and also make fish paste to trade across the Mediterranean.

We walked past the Bird Hospital. The sign outside (( in Portuguese) explained that the birds had to be kept in a peaceful environment and they shouldn't get used to humans as they were to be released into the wild (Mums Portuguese is a lot better than mine)
Back to the parking lot through an area of Mediterranean Pines and Umbrella Pines.
The Umbrella Pines look as if they have been pruned into their perfect shapes.
The area is quite small and the 3km trail doesn't take long but the opportunities for birdwatching and the information boards along the way can make it take quite a while. In addition the Visitors Centre may very well have some consuming displays. We were disappointed that the Portuguese Water dogs were no longer bred there as we would have liked to have seen them. The man at the entrance said they had been gone for 2 years.
Bon Voyage Joan. Welcome Maya.

1 comment:

  1. Carol congratulations on Maya Quinn. Nice to have someone so special to come home to. I'm taking bets with anyone that wants to anti in that a flight to Edmonton won't be much delayed when you get home. Anxious to see pictures. Love and big hugs--pass the hugs on to the Great grandparents too. Lynn