Walk on: Lent 2021 - Episode Three
Well good morning from (not quite so) sunny Spain this morning. We hope you're good and we're going to go on a walk this morning ... Where are we going to go to? We're going to go to El Hondo or El Fondo depending how you want to pronounce it.
Why is it called El Hondo or El Fondo? Because one's Valencian and one's Spanish all right , it's a bit like our village then, La Foia or La Hoya It's a bird reserve, a natural park with areas of conservation There's plenty to walk around so we'll need to get a move on to fit it all in in one day and we hope you're going to join us on the journey And I've made a picnic for us! oh you made a picnic? OK We have a full picnic as well so that's something to look forward to isn't it? okay let's go okay So we're traveling west of La Hoya into an area of land that used to be known as 'The Lagoon of Elche' because it was entirely underwater El Hondo, that's we're going to, is an attempt to reclaim what nature originally intended So we're just approaching the entrance to El Hondo now, before we go down the worst road in the world with cobbles and potholes and all sorts of things But we don't i- t's been tarmacked! okay forget that! we have a tarmac road, that's rather good isn't it that saves the car Over lockdown they've retarmacked the road. I suppose people are catching up on the jobs that they can do because it was closed for a little bit wasn't it? Back to the car park as per usual. That's a brilliant improvement actually that's great I think we'll need the mosquito spray today Yes I think I'm just realizing that there's quite a few of them around It's because there's water i suppose that's the advantage of the mask as well isn't it? You've already already got some covering I think i need some as well don't I really Yes but ugh i don't like it on my face So we're looking at the map Deciding which route we're going to go on How far we want to walk today but the red route is closed yeah it is indeed I expect the Visitor Centre's open shall we go and see? Yes - see which route they recommend They've done a good job here actually haven't they been kitting it all out yes planted lots of trees and yet again palm trees but it's a nice welcoming entrance and a statue with a bird attached to it well that would be appropriate, wouldn't it? keep away from him he's got a cough and a boardwalk which is nicer to walk on than the hard floor a bit breezier today yeah it is a little bit The Visitor Centre is maximum six persons at the moment i noticed that instead of the maps for Visitor Centre now they just have a little QR code that you click onto to get the map and then expect you to carry it around on your mobile phone to save the paper also they put some of that in from Covid so they're not handing out papers that people have touched yeah that's a good point actually isn't it I find it quite interesting looking at the information here because I can't say that I know a great deal about conservation even though I want to know more about it about how important it is for the different nutrients that are found in wetlands I didn't realize wetlands were so important As i was saying before, it used to be a lagoon and then they decided to they decided to drain it to to make farmland but then they've realized that wetlands absorb floods and help fight climate change and here it says they store large quantities of carbon In fighting climate change and they act as sponges and absorb and maintain water yeah so if you take them away then you're obviously increasing the climate change and the global warming aren't you? yes when I think of the word 'Wetlands' I go back to my failed Geography O' levels we used to discuss the wetlands in different countries And this section here is all about La Cerceta Pardilla The Marbled Duck or Marbled Teal and as I said, I read a news article only last week that they'd re-introduced breeding pairs - because it's virtually extinct apparently it lives 10 years No it doesn't i have totally misread the Spanish it lays 10 eggs a year! It's all in Spanish but i got there Beautiful pictures taken by a professional photographer - including a Kingfisher unfortunately - There are some I recognize like the old Coot that you see quite a lot of and that's another picture of your Marbled Teal so we'll have to look out for him today i'd love to see a Kingfisher i have never seen a Kingfisher I've only seen one or two We will see Flamingos yes we see lots of them here and we will see (although it may not be able to capture on film) We will see the Herons as well and the Blackwing Stilts that i thought were baby Flamingos! did you really? yes. OK Then I realized that they didn't have the same legs or the same colours but they had long legs like Flamingos what sort of bird is this one then? Why is that there? Because they can see it here i suppose - the Tiger Moth, Tiger Butterfly this is what i was saying about the Lagoon of Elche because once upon a time this was all water In Roman times - there's less water - there was still a huge lagoon though Basically Elche is just at the top of that so it was on the top of the lake really and then the 17th century there's still a massive amount of stuff there Actually, no, the bit that's El Hondo has been reduced quite significantly by the 17th century and so when you look at today, there's the big section that's actually is is more wetland than it was before and if you look at all the red dot towns they all couldn't have been built in historic days because all of that region was underwater- so that that's how it used to look - and that's how it looks now It's partially evolution and history but it's partially man-made as well it's the best of both worlds because it's developing the wetlands but it's also using the agricultural water from this area to feed the thriving agricultural industry we've got all around the area - Interesting very interesting Mallard - yes we feel happy with Mallard Red crested Pochard Northern Shoveler i've heard of There are quite a few of our people we know are Northern Shovelers aren't they when they have their dinner Common Teal Pintail, Tufted duck now he's a bit more easily recognized Gadwall, Eurasian Widgeon It is a conservation centre for school parties as well so now there's a couple of school trips going on here Life at school in Spain has continued after the first lockdown when they reopened the first time the life of school has continued as normal children have always been back in school yeah that's true actually they've taken a different approach to the UK they just have to have all windows open and all children over the age of five are masked so that is all primary and secondary school children have to wear masks at school all day and they've adapted to it very well it's probably easier having the windows open all day in Spain than it is in the UK to be fair isn't it? Yes it probably is! There's a couple of hides along the route isn't there? So shall we go to one of those to have some mindful moments overlooking the water? I never thought of myself as a 'Twitcher' - is that the right word? It is the right word. i don't sit still long enough in quiet normally so maybe this is a good idea but doesn't that mean you ARE a Twitcher ...? oh okay yes possibly twitchy!
One of my dear and good friends from many many years ago taught me a lot about bird watching because he worked for the RSPB for many many years and and he was able to help me understand the difference between bird watching and conservation really. I thought it was a bit like train spotting where you you just 'tigged' birds and said that you've got them but actually it's a lot more than that and the RSPB do an absolutely amazing job in looking after green spaces and not just bird environments but environments that are conservationally good for everybody It's remarkable as well that everybody wins by trying to put it back into its natural state because there's so much irrigation now - irrigation water - that's available that comes from the wetlands that they've flooded here yes it means that our area is a vegetable basket The seasons change, we've watched them grow all sorts, and now they're just beginning to get to the point of planting they're harvesting the artichokes and the green beans and then they start to plant the peppers and the tomatoes as it gets warmer and the cucumbers I thought it would be a lot drier it's quite amazed me as we've had 51 days without rain yeah although the weather would suggest that in the next two or three days we may get a little bit more at least it doesn't bode well for the summer though if we have had no rain because there will be water shortages of the main drinking waters possibly They ration the agricultural water as well don't they? sometimes they reduce it to so many days a week or so any hours or so a time slot yes we use agricultural water for our garden all on timers to save us watering all the plants apart from the pots Well we're inside the hide now and there's a notice on the board about the Marbled Teal Basically asking for help if you ever find the numbers because they're the pairs that they've released Julie's just enjoying herself looking out of the square window. Give a smile for the camera! You can't see! You said that without moving your lips i'm enjoying the peace That's good God really is amazing when you look out, I can see the mountains behind hear the birdsong and the duck song Creation really is something else yeah, looking out here just makes me think about the Lessons in Lent that I've learned I've been thinking about them. Learning to slow down maybe not something I'm good at that isn't really something you're good at is it ? You keep yourself pretty busy yeah but I'm trying now to take time out and sit, and think and 'Be' Sometimes in the garden looking at flowers I'm enjoying the garden at the moment but The walks are really showing me back to creation - just God's beauty and just the Peace I can find within it if I look for it If I take the time to listen for it Listening for peace sounds a bit weird but actually you can 'listen for peace' and I'm enjoying doing that Is that something that you have to deliberately choose to do then, do you think? for me personally, - definitely I choose to do it on the beach i like to go in Summer on my own sometimes and just sit on the beach and stare at the waves so I choose to do it then But I don't choose to do it at home so much I think i need to find ways of doing it not just because it's Lent it's almost like having a mini retreat just in your everyday life isn't it really? Yes, and we should. Which is slightly easier when you've got beautiful views and restful moments but it's not always that simple in the busy day is it? no but I'm sure all of us could find the space if we became determined to schedule it in so that's my lesson so far Lessons in Lent So we'll leave this hide then and we'll go on to the next one Well we're at a bit of a crossroads here but what we'll do is, because there's a Green Route that we want to go on and then there's another hide that we can go and look at a different piece of water so let's go to the hide first well I'm hoping as soon as we walk down to this hide that we'll see some of the Flamingos because they're often on this particular piece of water okay so what can you see through this window then? oh Flamingos they're amazing! we're so close only a few metres I think four, but you think 25.
so there's the pink ones and then there's the ones that are different colours out there there's ones more black but apparently they're they're younger and it takes up to three years before they become pink and it is to do with their diet of shrimp and they only lay one egg a year They're so clever- with their heads in the water and eating you can see the flamingos but you can also see the islands beyond as well and they're absolutely teeming with bird life that we can't really see because El Hondo is a lot bigger than just the bits that you can walk to because a lot of it is laid out obviously for conservation so that you can't go to those areas you can't go to breeding grounds because they won't want to be disturbed yeah but flamingos seem happy around people really when you think how many are on the n332 going into Alicante there are thousands against the main road i wonder if my daughter who had a birthday yesterday would appreciate me telling the world that she used to call them 'Maflingos' when she was a little girl probably not well I hadn't realized stupidly so that it's 'flamenco' in Spanish and that flamenco is flamingo because of the posture of the dance yes i suppose and the costumes they wear they're all elaborate and ruffled and feathers it was so elegant and 'leggy' that they called it flamenco they named a dance after me once when somebody saw me dancing What bad Dad dancing? No, they called it hippopotamus . . . so we're starting up the green route now this is getting further away from the visitor centre So it's actually quieter. not that it wasn't quiet before. So for quite some time the scenery doesn't really change because we've got grasses on both sides and the water areas are actually over the grasses with a bit more privacy to them so the view doesn't change for a bit so because the view doesn't change for a bit I think i'm tempted to put our cameras away and stop carrying the things and enjoy the walk and make the distance that we need to in the meantime we'll play you a piece of music So that's on the way back from the Green route then we're walking here close to the irrigation release system aren't we is that what it is? Yes they open the sluice gates then it flows in and out of the wetlands It really is 'win-win' Humanity returns the land as close as it can to how nature intends it, and humanity benefits as well This is our third walk through Lent It doesn't directly relate to Lent in one sense but it does because the vulnerability that you have in recognizing the helplessness of the human situation I suppose it works both ways because you could actually give up all hope and just not try but it's a little bit like that old chestnut story of the child who went down on the beach and all the starfish were washed up and they're all dying Then the child threw one back and the helpful parent said something like "that's not going to make a difference" and the child says "well it's going to for this one" and i suppose that's a little bit how i feel about the green issue and that you can't always tackle the macro situation. That's the purpose of organizations such as the RSPB that we talked about before and Green Summits and Governments and people who make the real decision so there's a whole collection of agitators and and workers and policy makers and if we work together and listen to David Attenborough . . . Now this is easy walking this bit A lot of this was burnt down in the fire The last time i came here which is a couple of years ago before the fire there was no water here at all it was summer and it had dried up a lot so this was just a bit more marshy whereas actually this is quite a lake at the moment you asked me what i learned in Lent I think one of the other things i've learned is that you and I can't walk in a straight line because we keep bouncing into each other lateral sideways movement well we both don't walk well - no - we lurch well these are all Black Ducks When we get to the end I will look and see what their name is but there's lots of them black ones i think you'll find they're Coots . . . . . . but you can call them Black Ducks if you want
well they are Black Ducks They probably aren't what they aren't black and they aren't ducks? They aren't ducks, I don't think oh they look like ducks not that i'm an expert I better get myself sat down then. Otherwise I'll start without you i'm hungry now after all that walking it's nice to see you brought a nice simple picnic for two i bought a spanish tapas dinner lunch for two i'm very impressed okay tell me what's in it then we have serrano ham, chorizo, empanadas which are filled with what's called a vegetable pisto which is a vegetable mix, manchego cheese, tomatoes, olives stuffed with anchovies carrots for the hummus, grapes, crisps, bread and then the Date and Walnut cake with a couple of chocolate brownies too for our energy that's very good you have a beer and I have wine Well i have a zero percent alcohol beer a zero percent alcohol beer i have a small glass of wine which is a bit of a treat really you have a small glass of wine? OK So, ¡que aproveche! Gracias so i've even brought glasses for as you see yeah, I know, I spotted that oh it's not so small is it? beer is really nice actually whether or not it's got an alcohol in it or not i must get back to drinking beer at some stage then i can give it up for Lent next year I suppose, seeing as we've had no Scripture references this week You thought we'd replicate the feeding of the 5000 then? It was ever Thus with me But there's no fish, or loaves? There's anchovies in the grapes (yes, Julie did say that) WWJD What Would Jesus Do?