Buzzy Bees, Bends, Butterflies and Birds

Not everyone has been busy. Whilst the sun shines some of us take the opportunity to stop a few rays.

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Others here make friends with the flowers and get ready for the summer to come.

 

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But we all welcome the sun in one way or another.

 

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Unfortunately the sun doesn’t last forever. AS we neared Tarifa further along the coast, the wind picked up and it became altogether colder and darker.  The site we chose to stay on had one or two access problems and we got one wheel spinning in the air getting on the site.  Needless to say it was a free site but it was right on the beach so worth a little trouble getting there.

 

Had we known what getting off was going to be like I doubt we would have contemplated the site.

 

There were already some unusual occupants of the site.

 

There was a carpenter making musical instruments in his most unusual (in Europe) workshop:

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There were the usual residents of fields to be seen from the bedroom window first thing in the morning announcing their presence by ringing their cowbells.

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But as I hinted, getting off the site was not going to be easy.  I had worked out a route but not quite carefully enough.  I gave Sheila all the instructions but got one front wheel down a pothole so I take full responsibility.

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The damage was mostly superficial and was mended within hours.  A fat and purely cosmetic exhaust pipe extension was torn off as we entered the pothole.  However, the worst thing was that the fresh water drain connector came off at the same time and filled the hole we were sliding about in with 100 litres of fresh water.  Gooey and messy.  With the help of another camper we propped up the offending wheel and pushed, shoved, revved, reversed and drove out of there.  Mmmmmm lesson learned I hope.

Tarifa is known for the incessant winds and they hold kitesurfing championships there and is just along the coast from Gibraltar, our next destination.

We parked in La Linea which is just on the Spanish side of the border with Gib.  We were on a car park overnight right out in the open and subject to every whim the wind could come up with.  We were battered all night, it was almost as if we were at sea.

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You really do have to cross the runway by foot to get to Gibraltar, this is after you have been subjected to the usual security checks at an international frontier outside of the E.U. even if most of it is computerised and automated.

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Fortunately for us there were no delays as all the planes had been grounded because of the high winds.

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Gibraltar was a disappointment because the cable car was also grounded because of the winds so no mountaintop photos but we did get to shop in Morrisons with our pound coins  for ginger beer, Hot Chocolate and similarly Hot Cross Buns to keep us warm up in the mountains – our next destination.

 

“Today I am mostly driving John around the bend”  Take a look at the satnav as we approach the town of Zahara.

 

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Well worth the wiggles and the climb though.  A little hilltop town, one of the many Pueblos Blancos of Andalucia that we visited.

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We camped on a picnic ground beside a lake below the town.  The lake was formed when they built a dam across the lower end of the valley.  When we visited the water level was very low and a lot of the original valley floor had been exposed.  It seems that they simply built the dam, let it flood and left everything to rot away.  I walked across the floors of houses, along muddy streets, through abandoned forests to a street sign recently exposed by the receding waters.

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The main attraction of these mountains for me was the birds nesting on the sides of the crags.  Mostly Griffon Vultures, huge birds with a wingspan of nearly 3 metres, they spiral skywards on the air currents without the need to flap their wings more than a couple of times an hour.  I started photographing them with my (Very Cheap!) 500mm lens and got one or two passable pictures:

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Then switched to my more expensive but less appropriate lens and got a few more,

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but whilst camping below, I had met  Terry, a man with a similar passion for the birdlife who owned a MUCH more appropriate lens for these birds.  Terry invited me to try out his lens

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I am just SO in need of one of those lenses, a Sigma 150 – 600mm zoom lens.  Unfortunately it weighs nearly as much as all the rest of my camera equipment put together, is long enough to use as a walking stick and costs nearly £800.00 (My birthday soon if anyone is thinking what to buy for me!!)

 

Oh. The butterflies, I forgot:

 

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A species found in this region of Spain called the Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumin rthat I spotted whilst we were on a cycle ride along a disused railway line near a town called Coribe.  We cycled about 13km for a picnic lunch then 13km back to the van.  We slept that night in the disused car park of the disused railway station on the disused railway line. Very quiet.

 

Sheila spotted a very obliging Spanish Viperine snake doing about 25mph downhill  and skidded to a halt nearly knocking me off my bike but it was quite worthwhile for the photographs.

 

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Oh! In case you were wondering; it was Sheila doing the 25mph not the snake and no it is not a venomous snake, quite harmless. (But it still gave me the eeebie geebies when it stopped posing for the camera and skidaddled across the track at 25mph.)

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