10th March 2017. Tarifa, Spain.

Wow, what a day!

Our plans changed a lot today.  Our original plan was to venture into Tarifa to explore the Old Town then move on to Cadiz for the evening however the cows came back to our field so we had a very lazy breakfast while we watched them chewing the cud.  The calves were playing together again.  We noticed the Spanish cows don’t have huge udders like the milking cows at home and wondered whether these cows are bred for a different purpose.  We were so slow getting ready that we decided to go to Tarifa tomorrow and visit the beach today.

We were parked about 300 metres from the beach which was screened from our view by trees in the nature reserve.  I could smell a lovely fragrance wafting through the trees as we walked down the path but couldn’t see the plant it was coming from.  As we stepped out from the woods we were greeted by the sight of a deep blue sea breaking on to a white sandy beach.

Our second plan of the day had been to have a paddle and sit and watch the world go by, however, Darren caught sight of Tarifa and decided we should walk along the beach to the town.

It took ages because there was a lagoon with nervous little birds on it who kept taking off, swooping across the water and suddenly landing en masse so I kept stopping to take photos.

Unfortunately when we were within ‘spitting distance’ of the town our progress was halted by an estuary cutting across the beach (as they tend to do!) so after much umming and aahing about how we could cross it, we turned round and walked back up the beach at a much faster pace JUST in case we got cut off by the tide.

When we’d passed the river we sat on the beach and ate our feeble picnic of nuts, olives and a flask of cold water.  Ironically as Darren was telling me he’d only brought the flask cup he somehow managed to drop it and coat it in sand!  Yummy!  Why is sand so impossible to get rid of, no matter how hard you try to remove it there are always still a few grains kicking around.  Darren rinsed the cup and there was still a sneaky sludge of sand left in the bottom.  I couldn’t face the crunchiness of a mouthful of sandy water so I decided to try pouring water from the flask straight into my mouth, what a fail, I drenched myself with cold water!

While all this was going on a huge shadow moved across us and we looked up to see a couple of raptors flying over head.   I was very excited because they were different from any we’d seen before and one glowed golden in the sun.  We saw a few more drift past and as it was very hot we decided to go back to the van for lunch.

Even more excitement awaited us there, we walked up to the end of the lane to the rubbish bin (that wasn’t the exciting moment) and as we started walking back a motorbike went past doing a WHEELIE!  He must have noticed that I was so surprised that I didn’t get a good photo the first time round so he came back for a second go!  I got a much better photo that time.

Lunch turned out to be a snack while we were sitting in the shade of the van enjoying the view and the occasional fly by from a few raptors which were congregating, circling on the thermals above the hills in the distance, as we looked closer we noticed they’d been joined by some storks.

That was exciting to watch but even that paled into insignificance when we looked up to see a squadron of about 100 raptors flying above us, heading towards the other birds which then flew off.  It was an astounding sight, at home it’s exciting to see three or four raptors riding the thermals but to see this many all in one place was fantastic particularly with storks flying amongst them.

Years ago our friend Stu took us to see the area near Stokenchurch in The Chilterns where five Red Kites had been reintroduced, they were brought over from the Navarre region in Spain.  We stopped by a field that was being ploughed and were astonished to see what we’d thought were a flock of seagulls following the plough were in fact about 20 Red Kites swooping around.  Gethan took some great photos of them with my camera (I subsequently tried to claim them as my own but he wasn’t having any of it!).

Seeing these raptors today changed our plans again and we decided to stay another day to see if we can see another squadron tomorrow!

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