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Estany De Banyoles/zona Volcànica De La Garrotxa
April 5, 2010
1:20 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Here's the story of our trip yesterday. First a quick map - we began at Banyoles (purple flag), drove over to Olot in the volcanic zone of Catalunya (yellow flag), then headed south to Manlleu (red flag). /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

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Cake or death?
April 5, 2010
1:52 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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First location: Platja d'Espolla. This intermittent lake only fills with water once or twice annually and in some years doesn't flood at all. It's fed by the same groundwater as nearby Lake Banyoles (more on this below) but is ~40 m higher in altitude hence its temporary nature. This winter has been particularly wet with plenty of snow so we were hoping to get lucky because when it does contain water some very interesting species are to be found here, including the frogs Rana perezi, Discoglossus pictus and Hyla meridionalis, toads Bufo bufo, B. calamita and Alytes obstetricans, fire salamander Salamandra salamandra plus newts Triturus marmoratus and T. helveticus. There's also a population of the ancient crustacean Triops cancriformis we really wanted to see.

We drove late Saturday and spent the night in the car parked next to the habitat so we could get an early start. Unfortunately we awoke to find it completely dry:

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This is what it looks like when full (not my pic) /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" /> :

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Not a good start to the day at all...

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Cake or death?
April 5, 2010
2:43 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Second location: Estany de Banyoles (Lake Banyoles) is just down the hill from location 1. It's the largest in Catalunya and unique in a number of ways, being fed by groundwaters which continue to slowly dissolve the chalk/gypsum/limestone bedrock. The water contains high levels of calcium carbonate and sulphur and is a beautiful turquoise colour. Introduced fishes include Micropterus salmoides (largemouth bass), Lepomis gibbosus (pumpkinseed), Gambusia holbrooki and Perca fluviatilis (perch) but there are small numbers of native ones like Barbus meridionalis (Mediterranean barbel) and Salaria fluviatilis (freshwater blenny - the one we were after).

Here's the lake in the early morning:

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We headed to the Riera Can Morgat, a small watercourse draining into the lake's western shoreline, because I'd read it contained the biggest remaining population of S. fluviatilis. Unfortunately the section running through the woods which surround this side of the lake proved very difficult to fish with a hand-net because there are submerged tree roots everywhere, and I caught nowt but a few crustaceans and insect larvae:

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Walking through the woods:

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...this shallow pool connected to the lake itself contained only what I think are young Procambarus clarkii:

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So we decided to fish a but further upriver but caught nothing except a larger P. clarkii:

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Very disappointing, but I'm determined to return here, maybe as soon as next weekend. Here's the drained agricultural land around the Can Morgat stream; this has been reclaimed and will now be given over to marshland and re-establishment of the shore-line woods. That's not smoke but a cloud in the distance:

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...finally something to smile about, the sun came out!

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Some flora and a fungus from around the Can Morgat stream:

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We weren't ready to give up but were in desperate need of a caffeine boost so headed south along the lake until we reached Estanyol del Vilar, a deep natural pond mostly used for recreational fishing these days and attached to the lake by an artifical channel. There's a camp-site and restaurant here:

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Double espressos downed, we headed to the lake shore to check out potential habitats but all we spotted were Micropterus salmoides of different sizes:

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The water looks stunning...:

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...and in some places these travertinous rock for
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Phalacrocorax carbo?

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Ducks and daisies - really scraping the barrel now, sigh...:

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Cake or death?
April 5, 2010
3:11 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Rather than spend the whole day at Lake Banyoles we decided to continue on to the town of Olot which is in the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa, a beautiful area with over 40 inactive volcanic cones. The drive was superb and we stopped to take some pics at one point:

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The sound of running water appeared to be emanating from the bottom of a little track so we headed down:

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Found this little stream but it was silted-up with no life except some insect larvae. /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" />

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Bit of flora:

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As we approached Olot we could see snow on the tops of the Pyrenees (plus a massive black cloud to the left):

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The town itself mostly fell into the 'instantly forgettable' category though so we continued past it where we spotted a sign that read something like "Panorama of Garrotxa". A detour was agreed (meaning my missus asked "Do you fancy that?" after she'd already indicated and changed lanes /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" />) and it turned out to be well worth the effort despite the poop-inducing drive up. The snow-topped mountains in the background are the Pica del Canigó which are among the highest in the Pyrenees at ~2800 m amsl. Closer are the volcanoes of Garrotxa and town of Olot:

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Cake or death?
April 5, 2010
3:27 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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After stopping for food we continued to the town of Manlleu through which flows the River Ter. We stopped in the town but there was no chance to use a hand net here. I popped down to the exposed rocks to have a look but saw no life and plenty of silt again:

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A bit further upriver was this small oxbow. Again, no life except insect larvae:

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Further upstream again but the water was too turbid to see anything:

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On the way home, feeling increasingly desperate, we stopped at the Riera de l'Avencó near the town of Aiguafreda but this turned out to be the worst habitat of the day with deep layers of silt covering everything. The quarry upstream may explain this. /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" /> Suffice to say, no fishes...:

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I'd had enough of pulling my waders on and off at that point so we decided beer was the only remaining option. Bit depressed not to have seen any interesting species but we had loads of fun, plus I've 5 days booked off this week so hoping for better luck or a more skilful fisherman, whichever comes first. /tongue.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":p" border="0" alt="tongue.gif" />

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Cake or death?
April 6, 2010
3:14 pm
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coelacanth
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That's no fungus, look like strobilii of Horsetails.

April 6, 2010
5:06 pm
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Colin
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agreed - or mare's tails? /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

April 6, 2010
7:16 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Cheers lads just googled that - is it an Equisetum spp.? And is this one related?

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Cake or death?
April 6, 2010
11:51 pm
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keith565
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well, although no fish caught, the pics and write up were fab mate. many thanks.

April 7, 2010
3:02 am
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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I recoginize those.^^^ We have one here that's a real pest, relentlessly coming up in my garden space!

QUOTE (keith565 @ Apr 6 2010, 04:34 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
well, although no fish caught, the pics and write up were fab mate. many thanks.

Ditto, looks like a happy birthday Matt. Better fishing next time!

April 7, 2010
9:54 am
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coelacanth
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QUOTE (Matt @ Apr 6 2010, 07:59 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Cheers lads just googled that - is it an Equisetum spp.? And is this one related?

Yup. They grow all round the banks of many of the reservoirs round here. Very ancient form.

April 7, 2010
6:27 pm
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Colin
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What's your wish list for seeing in Spain Pete?

April 9, 2010
1:12 pm
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Bluedave
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Looks like a good day mate, despite being fishless!

April 12, 2010
7:57 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Cheers all! I've had a desperado visiting the last 5 days and we've been visiting various fish habitats so plenty more pics to come before long. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

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