Portopalo, 8 months away!February 27, 2017 in Italy
We've been away from home continuously for 8 months today. As the crow flies we are over 2200 kilometres from where we started and have pretty much reached the most southerly point we'll get to, before starting our journey north for summer. Despite the number of new experiences we are having, we've found a rhythm to everyday life. There are the regular necessities such as emptying the toilet and grey water, finding fresh water and somewhere to buy the food we need. We've also adopted routines to best suit Poppy, each other and ourselves. Living so closely, if a small thing isn't right, it affects us all more than it would back home and so we've learned through experience to take the time, deal with it as early as possible and make changes to improve the way we do things in the future. There is still a lot of fine tuning to do but we are blessed with the time to do it.
Leaving our exposed overnight spot, we wound our way back to the coast and found a car wash big enough to give Martha a much needed clean. Despite the number of campervans in Italy we haven't seen many facilities large enough down south and she was getting pretty filthy!
Today's main point of interest was the Vendicari nature reserve where the Rough Guide book said we might see Flamingos! We never know what we are going to find so try not to get our get our hopes up by doing things like exclaiming excitedly that we were going to Flamingo Land! The road that led to the reserve was single track and so overgrown that peculiar driving strategies needed to be employed, such as deciding which type of tree foliage might inflict the least damage to the side of the van when it was necessary to scrape against trees on both sides. There was no turning area at the end other than an entry to a field that had a barrier across it. All it took was a 9 point turn and we were facing the right way and tucked in as much as we could be.
Although the nature reserve was at a beach, the hides looked out onto salt lakes set back from the low dunes.
The first revealed a mixed group of Great white Egrets and Spoonbills, large white birds with long distinctive spatula shaped bills, all standing on a strip of land in the foreground, most of them dozing in the afternoon sunshine with their heads tucked away. Behind them and more difficult to distinguish were a group of large black birds that could have been mistaken for Cormorants. We'd come prepared and through the telescope we could see that they were Black Storks, a species we have never seen in the wild before. Moving on, Vicky spotted another salt lake and from the hide looking out over this one, we could see literally hundreds of Flamingos! It was an amazing experience to have driven so far that we were seeing species like this in the wild! The sun was behind them which made visibility difficult but we spent a good long time watching them sleep, strut, fly and even mate. They were spread out in several flocks over the large lake and Vicky wanted to go on and see how far the track could take us. It was at this point Will admitted he had twisted his ankle and needed to go back. Vicky went on for a little while, but would have had to go a long way to get better views than we did in that hide.
We found home for 2 nights at the harbour of Portopalo di Capo Passare, another place Will had found from the surf website. We parked up behind some old land ridden wooden boats bigger than Martha, some of which had been destroyed by fire. A walk up the small headland allowed us to watch a few surfers at sunset. The last persistent one waiting for his final big wave and being rewarded after 10 minutes or so by a long smooth surf inwards.
The next day we used the van as a luxury hide to watch little Bonelli's Warblers amongst other small birds feeding in the profusion of yellow wildflowers in front of us. Will fished while Vicky relaxed indoors, resealed the shower tray and attempted to fix the problem of water dripping through the hob into the drawer below.Read more