As a Londoner born and bred one of the great delights for me is to now be living in very rural Andalucía.
Brought up with coughing sparrows as neighbours I can now sit on my roof terrace and look eyeball to eyeball with a passing vulture. Before I moved in to the village one of my happiest pastimes was to watch a pair of ospreys who lived close by as they went about their daily routine. However the highlight had to be the evening when at least 100 storks descended on the trees around the house for the night. I understand these birds do not fly once the sun has set and as the first light of day entered the valley they took off again in a great cloud.
My favourite sight must be the thousands of pink flamingos that most years come to the salt lake of Fuente de Piedra in Málaga province to breed. This year the drought broke and hence from April some 31,000 birds are reported to have arrived at the lake to breed. Now with the on set of summer the waters are receding but Manual Rendón, the director of the natural reserve of the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra believes that around 12,000 adults are still in residence.
They in turn are caring for 6,000 flamingo chicks. Although the waters of the lake are ideal for breeding at present food is getting low and so the adults are making round 200 km trips to gather food for them. They will remain on the lake till they have reached the age of three months and then they will all fly off to other locations.
This year marks the 25 th anniversary since the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra was declared a nature reserve. On July 18 one of the great environmental events in Europe takes place when researchers and volunteers gather to ring the chicks. Not surprisingly this lake land paradise is one of the most visited nature reserves in Andalucía – and I feel privileged over the years to have been amongst those numbers.