Spain – A short break in and around Alicante

Did you know that there are really splendid ferry connections from and to Algeria? Besides places in France and Italy one can go to Alicante in southern Spain, and that’s exactly what I did. One needs tons of patience to go through the boarding procedures, mainly because there’s a lot of waiting for something. I’m not sure what, but I managed to listen to several hours worth of podcasts.

Oran port

I’m in the extremely lucky position to have friends who, although I hadn’t seen them for seven long years, allowed me to crash on their sofa and it was as if barely a week had gone by since last we met. Thanks Mr and Mrs Paella for existing! They took me around the local sights including hot chocolate, tapas, red wine, Phoenician archaeology and, for the first time in my life, avocets.  If you, like the WordPress spellchecker, don’t know – avocets are the most lovely birds ever. Note to WordPress: not avocados.

Alicante is well worth a visit because of the views, the great graffiti, the yummy vegetarian restaurants and lots of history to explore. Alicante is where the Spanish civil war ended.

I just really fancy the idea of a place called Joyeria. Make of that whatever you want. I also got to see a very local bit of culture because the parade of the Three Kings was on. I felt a bit like in a live version of the opening of Life of Brian. Always look on the bright side of life!

Dinosaur of the week: Spotted Flycatcher

spotted flycatcher

Our local patch of forest and shrubs is also home to Muscicapa striata. According to the IUCN the species is threatened by biocide-induced reductions or contamination of insect populations, removal of old trees and general habitat deterioration.

Dinosaur of the week: Common Linnet

linnet

This Linaria cannabina was perching in the dunes of Dunkirk in France. The species is in decline because of ‘the intensification of agriculture, resulting in destruction of hedgerows, improved harvesting of cereals, and the eradication of fallow and weedy fields through application of herbicides‘.

The bird is also commonly mentioned in popular culture, e.g. mentioned by Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde. Thanks to the people on birdforum.net for their help with the ID.

Dinosaur of the week: Garganey

garganey

It was a few years ago on Loch Morlich in Scotland where I encountered what I think is a female Spatula querquedula. The species is listed as least concern on the Red List, but numbers are in decline and threats are aplenty:

  • habitat deterioration and destruction (dam building, irrigation)
  • destruction of nests through meadow mowing
  • lead poisoning
  • hunting (eg in France)