Tuesday, 13 March 2012

EGRETS,ISLANDS & ILLNESS

13th.March 2012

The weather continues improving in that the days are hotter,the evenings longer and the nights warmer although the wind lurks around to discomfort the the GF whilst I merely think it is an occasional nice breeze to stop it becoming too hot.

Olhao is in the Ria Formosa, an area of marshes and sandy islands which provide 80% of the clams & shellfish ( 7000 tons annually) that Portugal consumes, and the campsite is next door to the nature reserve from which I derive my knowledge, having walked many interesting trails & read the information boards erected for the education of the unwary. It is home to Fiddler crabs (those with one claw larger than the other but so far unseen), terrapins which bask in the sun in pools,all sorts of birdlife and the remains of the last of 300 Tide mills, which was in use until 1970, restored in 1980 but now sadly in need of further restoration ( we have a working Tide mill at Woodbridge which operates at holiday times).

At sunset there is a spectacular sight as 1000's of Great White Egrets return each night to roost in the trees surrounding a small lagoon about a 30 min walk from us and is wonderful to watch. One minute the sky is empty and sun is sinking over the tree tops and then suddenly it is full of birds flying in from every direction for around half an hour,wheeling and diving,searching for perches until all the trees are so covered with them that they look like magnolia trees in bloom. And then almost at a signal the whole cacophany ceases and an eerie silence falls over the lake as the sun dips below the horizon, bathing the whole scene in a deep golden glow. And it happens every night.

The islands, or huge sandbars, have some settlements on them, fishermen and shellfish farmers, and are well served by ferries so with P&M we bought spit roasted chickens with Piri-piri sauce,bread,salad and wine at the supermarket and caught a ferry to Culatro at 11am on Friday. From there we walked across the dunes to the sea where we picnicked in the sun on an endless beach of golden sand with hardly a soul to be seen. In the spirit of adventure we walked to the end of the island, Farol, where we caught the returning ferry which calls in there on its way back to Olhao - the return trip costs €3.60 each and took about 50 mins outward and 30 mins back from Farol.At low tide the ferry sails between the sandbanks which are the shellfish farms which look like very hard, back-breaking work.

Dinner at Smokey Joe's on wednesday was €16 for an excellent variety of grilled fish, and lunch on saturday at Sergios along with a jolly crowd was the usual excellence for €8.50 a head all in.

Unfortunate news from Derek & Margaret that they will not be joining us but heading home from Spain as M. is unwell which is sad news, especially since P&M return to the uk at the end of the week......and P has been out of action with a virulent cold since Sunday, leaving me with no-one to play with.....

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