Bonelli's eagles visit

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Gull ringing

Audouin gull ringing 2017

At 0830 on 15 June 2017 five members of the volunteers met at the Torrevieja Salinas to assist in the ringing of the Audouin gull chicks.  The Audouin gull is still a relatively rare species and we are lucky to have an important population of them in our area.
The format for the ringing was much the same as last year. We were divided into four groups each containing a qualified birdringer, a person to write down ring numbers, a person in charge of rings and two people to find the chicks. In addition, and new this year, there was a team of veterinarians attached to each group. Their function was to take blood samples from a random selection of chicks in order to measure the level of heavy metals in the chick which acts as a possible marker of marine pollution.
As well as placing a metal ring with its unique number on one leg and a Darvic ring on the other, the ringer took feather samples from some birds to measure the level of mercury (a significant poison to man and animals and another marker of possible marine pollution). The crown to tip of beak and tarsus (lower leg) was also measured in these chicks so that if we are fortunate to catch any of these birds in the future we can relate size to possible poisoning with mercury or heavy metals.

Two hundred birds were ringed in under two hours (just as well, it was getting rather hot!) and following a gift of salt from the manager of the saltworks we retired to a local hostelry for some welcome refreshment.




Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Park concert photos

Thanks to Ana for sending these delightful photos of the children's choir




Photos by Antonio Ruiz Hurtado

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Habaneras in the Park

A heartwarming event took place at the Natural Park of La Mata on Sunday 4th June when a concert was given by the children of the Colegio Cuba, the Inmaculada Concepción school, the Conservatorio Municipal and the Consejaría Medio Ambiente..  In the setting of the Park and in the open air it was the culmination of a year’s work by the school and the staff of the Park in leaning about the natural environment and the heritage of the habanera.  These two elements are the two treasures of Torrevieja which have been emphasized in other events this week.  Some of the children dressed as pirates spoke in unison of the history of the boats which went to and from Cuba, when the sailors who could not read or write instead sang songs telling of the town they had been to and what they found in Torrevieja, notably the pink lake.
The other half of the group then sang several habaneras and ended with the brand new one which has been written specially for this event and is called Laguna Bella.   It’s the first habanera ever to have the words artemia and flamenco in the wording!  First the children sang it accompanied by a small group of musicians and then copies of the words were handed out and the whole audience took part in singing this new addition to the collection of habaneras of Torrevieja.
We all enjoyed this opportunity, not just the proud parents of all the children who took part. 
The large crowd of parents and several of the volunteers of La Mata were present at this lovely event.  Some of the Volunteers had also attended on the Saturday when a large number of the public took part in an extended visit to the Park, learning about it and its significance in our landscape.

It is hoped by all these means that a greater number of people know about the Park and its treasures and appreciate that we look after it as best we can.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Vandalised nestbox



After months of hard work and having only been sited a few weeks ago, one of our nestboxes has already been vandalised. Culprit unknown-woodpecker, rat, squirrel all in the frame at present. 


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Activity with CIAJ (Centro de Información y Animación Juvenil) Saturday 18 March 2017



On Saturday 18 March the volunteers entertained a group of Spanish students to help them practice their English. Following a short presentation about the history and function of the Parque and the work of the volunteers we took them on a short walk around the Parque to point out some of the features. We split into small groups to allow all the students the opportunity to practice their English. Conversations (all in English) between the volunteers and the students were wide ranging and not always directly related to Parque issues. Many of the students had never visited the Parque despite living in Torrevieja and surrounding areas.
Both students and volunteers enjoyed the morning and feedback from the students was extremely positive. In fact, they requested that we make this a regular event.

Stephen


Visit to El Hondo North Gate 11 March 2017



On a slightly chilly (for Spain) Saturday morning fourteen volunteers met at the North Gate of El Hondo for three hours of birdwatching. Once again we were ably led by Stephan and Els from the Costa Blanca Bird Club.
We were immediately guided to the first boardwalk where we were treated to excellent views of a Greater Spotted Eagle which posed in a palm tree for quite a long time and then graced us by landing at the water's edge even closer to where we were standing. Further stops were made at the other hides and viewing platforms
Altogether, some thirty two species were identified including marsh harrier, booted eagle, little bittern, glossy ibis, white headed duck, pintail and blue throat. In addition we were treated to an impressive display of jumping fish (identity unknown, no fish experts present!).
After thanking Stephan and Els we departed the park at 1130h.

Stephen

New system of planting to help restore the ecology of El Parque Natural



On 23 February 2017 a group of volunteers assisted at the planting of a number of shrubs (Lentisco Espino Negro) in an area of the Parque at risk of erosion. The area had been cultivated in the past and this had reduced the number of stones and indigenous plants so that there was no natural protection for the soil. This had resulted in significant erosion not only due to rain and wind but also by cyclists crossing the area. The eroded soil is gradually silting up the lake.
Using a system of planting originally developed in the semi-desert areas of North Africa, we planted 27 plants around the periphery of the field. These will hopefully grow to about 3metres in height and provide a natural barrier allowing the growth of native flora and fauna in addition to reducing erosion.
A hole was dug about 40cm in depth and a vertical plastic tube inserted which was filled with stones. The hole was then filled with organic matter from the surrounding conifer trees and the plant inserted. The plastic tube was removed leaving the stones to provide a route for rainwater to the roots. A plastic mesh was placed over the plant the plant and the the area covered with large stones, to stop rabbits attacking the plants and reducing evaporation, and then surrounded with acacia twigs to act as a windbreak. Finally, channels were made radiating from the plant to direct rainwater.
We look forward to monitoring the progress of this venture.
Pictures courtesy of the Parque.

Stephen