June 13, 2011
On Pete's last day we travelled to the coastal village of L'Ametlla de Mar, south of Barcelona. Here there exist two dessicated ex-rivers which now contain small, permanent lagoons close to the sea fed by underground aquifiers. In both we hoped to find Aphanius iberus and Valencia hispanica which have been introduced by the local authorities in attempts to preserve these species.
On arrival we munched down on tapas of rabbit and fresh mussels before commandeering a local taxi for the day. First stop was Barranc de les Santes Creus - I'd actually been here a couple of weeks earlier to check the presence of the fishes and had been largely unsuccessful although I had caught a single, poorly-looking male Valencia.
Walking down the dry river bed on the way to the lagoons we turned over a few rocks and found this impressive-looking Scolopendra sp. Quite big and scary this at about 100 mm in length so neither of us felt like handling one:
Lagoon number one. It started to rain here so we climbed up to a cave a little way up the rock face in order to don our waders:
After ten minutes watching, and in my case learning about, the swallows and other birds we concurred that the rain wasn't going to stop any time soon. We stayed for about 45 minutes but didn't even get a sniff of a fish although Pete had a potential sighting. The unstable rocky substrate and depth in the middle made it difficult to use our hand nets and these brittle tube-worm cases found around the margins didn't help either. These are also significant as they signify that this habitat is sometimes inundated with salt water.
We also found these which we couldn't identify but which Pete suggested may be a jellyfish of some kind. Confirmed later as Odesia madeotica. :
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Lagoon number two is perhaps 50 metres away, closer to the sea (you can see it in the background in the first pic) and much saltier than #1. The two are obviously connected at times though, presumably when flooded by sea water. It was here I caught the single fish on my first visit.
This is how close it is to the sea - the pile of rocks is a result of storm surges - likely to be the cause of flooding events:
The large amounts of dried seagrass where evidence of a recent inundation:
Not easy to net here either as it's very deep in the centre and the margins are either heavily-vegetated or fall away steeply. However first fish found was, unbelievably, this miserable-looking V. hispanica female. Knackered finnage and scale-shedding most visible in the video suggest water quality or age issues. This is doing my head in as the specimen I'd caught on my last visit showed similar characters but was male:
We also caught several examples of this atherinid...:
...plus a fair few Gambusia, here a gravid female. All heads went pop I'm afraid. *innocent*:
Time ran out and the tally of one knackered Valencia and zero Aphanius was deemed very disappointing indeed (or "gash" depending on where you're from). Our over-priced local taxi service then took us to Torrent del Pí on the other side of town. Only a single, small lagoon here; pure fresh water but very close to the sea. This was a first visit for us both and my-oh-my did we get lucky. Immediate thought - this place is going to be easier to fish than the last (very clear water, shallow, not much marginal vegetation along one side) and not only that but groups of A. iberus and V. hispanica of all sizes, including some enormo (think 4"+) specimens of the latter, were in abundance. Not a Gambusia in sight - wooo hoooo!:
Wee vid (look closely towards the end for fishes and ignore northern twang):
There were plentiful mosquito larva - the perfect food source:
Taking pics - we didn't collect many specimens so as not to disturb the habitat too much by kicking up silt etc. All were returned:
Young adult A. iberus male:
A. iberus female:
V. hispanica male - we agreed that it's a crime this species isn't in the hobby
In the photo tank:
My cam was playing silly b*ggers and didn't manage decent pics of the mature male Valencia so took a vid:
Apart from this wee lagoon the river is totally dry - this is the bed upstream:
The beach also shows evidence of storm surges but is perhaps inundated less often than the first habitat:
White-a*sed Bolton Wanderer Megustatapas peteliptroti:
June 28, 2008
July 30, 2008
We were surprised to find that the site was the equivalent of a cottagers' den, must have been why the taxi driver charged us a "supplement" for going there. One of the young men around showed quite a bit of interest in what we were doing, even after we'd explained we weren't there for his charms. Fetching rubber singlet he was wearing, I have to say...
July 30, 2008
I claimed I was looking for snakes, but really I was still a bit hungry.
NOT a euphemism!
I've been unable to find any reference to this in the literature, I need to do some more checking
Very much like the storm beaches you get in Pembrokeshire etc. They wuz asking fer it anyway /ph34r.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":ph34r:" border="0" alt="ph34r.gif" />
It was a touch on the cool side as well, brisk wind and wet clothing a poor combo, even for someone like me who doesn't feel the cold. Those pics make it look a lot brighter than it felt.
Taking pics - we didn't collect many specimens so as not to disturb the habitat too much by kicking up silt etc.
We felt we'd established what we needed to, the fish were there in very good numbers, Aphanius displaying away, Valencia very shy and swimming in groups. Much better feel to this habitat, can't quite say why but it was a better place to be, superb birdsong, one I think may have been a thrush nightingale from the richness and variety of the song. Turns out that's a popular site for UK birders to go and look for migrants.
Beat the pants off many better-known killifish, just like a really cool Pachypanchax (really remarkably similar!). The larger adult males were stunning, really superb.
I found some predator tracks in the mud, maybe Beech Martin, something like that.
The presence of Nymphaea suggested that this was a much more fresh habitat, there was a fair amount of Potamogeton at the other one but that is known to be salt tolerant.
Alternative captions... I'm hungry again, I'm sure I saw something move there then.... If there's a crack around he'll try to get his fingers in it.....There's something in that crevice that's alive - no, not that one....
September 15, 2008
June 13, 2011
He was accompanied by a conspicuously timeworn gentleman who was similarly-clad but remarkably nimble given his portly posture, thus somehow managing to evade the camera. /dry.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="<_ <" border="0" alt="dry.gif"> We last saw him heading into the bushes clutching a bottle of clear, thick-looking fluid and a curious plastic artefact.
Yeah right not a single returned result on Google. /huh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":huh:" border="0" alt="huh.gif" />
Basically, we were f**king freezing! /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" /> I, being the smug, well-prepared type had packed a spare t-shirt. My accomplice mistakenly assumed that being in Spain precluded the possibility of bad weather and didn't. Pfffttt... /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" />
Indeed, refer back to Bolton Wanderer sighting.
I'm unsure whether to giggle or vomit.
Dave it was a great day ta and thanks Gustav too. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />
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