Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Catalunya 2 - Cap de Creus Natural Park

This was planned a little more, without getting too detailed with an itinerary. Not too much further on from the Aiguamolls de l'Empordà is the rocky peninsular of Cap de Creus accessed through meandering roads up to the heights that overlook white pixelated towns below and the cobalt blue seas. The views are simply stunning and habitats include a variety of pine woodland and areas of scrub and rocky escarpments layered with wild flowers and busy invertebrates. The road has a number of pull-offs where tracks lead through the Natural Park allowing time to spontaneously wander through and observe anything that may be lurking in this panoramic environment.

Stopping the car at the foothill by the quaint town Vilajuiga by Quermanco Castle, a short walk through a plantation where a Melodious Warbler sang, and a Red-Rumped Swallow flew over with a flock of Common Swift.  It was hot though, so I moved on up the headland.

Stopping at another lay-by, I walked into a small pine.  On hearing the song of bird I didn’t recognise, I waited until I caught sight of what was a Western Orphean Warbler, in fact two that flew past and over into an adjoining woodland.  Also here were a couple of calling Wryneck that I was unable to locate.

The route continued, views everywhere, stopping off regularly to explore the area.  Smart Woodchat Shrike sat on top of small bushes, always much smaller than I imagine, jangling Serin, the alternative jangle of Corn Bunting, and a couple of passing Common Buzzard.

One area that we spent more time held at least four singing Western Orphean Warbler, three calling Wryneck of which one sat on an exposed branch unperturbed by my close proximity, a single Spotted Flycatcher, a Woodchat Shrike, and a few Hoopoe flying through the woodland.

Stopping off at a strangely subdued coastal town of El Port de la Selva, the journey continued toward the Cape itself with an operational lighthouse, and plenty of tracks around the jagged rocks and around the extreme tip of the peninsular.  The sea mist that could be seen as a bank of cloud out to sea slowly rolled its way in onto land, creating a bewitching and surreal scene as the strong sunlight attempted to pierce through the shroud of mist that had blanketed the headland.

Heading back up the main road through the Natural Park, a 12th Century monastry de Sant Pere de Rodes sits high up on the hill.  A path runs from the Car Park to the monastry which winds round the steep ravine.  Along this path, two cracking Rock Bunting sat close in before disappearing off, while Nightingale and Melodious Warbler sang from the olive trees.

Further up was a short but strenuous scramble up to the ruins of Sant Salvador castle which we negotiated with self-confessed fortitude.  Here I can only say that views were too much for the eyes to fathom, the skies were clear and the sun was beating down relentlessly, the cool breeze providing a comforting refreshment.

I don’t need to go to Spain to appreciate great wildlife and amazing scenery, we have that here, but just being away does provide the ultimate escapism.

Thank you to the lovely Kat for the photos taken on a Samsung Camera Phone

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