Driving along a Spanish motorway on a regular day in May, the last thing you expect to see are flamingoes basking in the early morning sun. But that’s exactly what I did see a couple of years ago and I couldn’t believe my eyes!
The normally arid land on the roadside heading towards Almansa, was not only flooded, it was full of flamingoes strutting their stuff. Unbelievably wonderful – and a first for Almansa! Apparently, it was all down to the abundant rainfall over the winter months and the consequent formations of the shallow salt lake that had attracted these pink-legged birds. The heavy winter rain had also caused other beautiful things to happen in the area too; everywhere you looked poppies were growing!
Like something straight out of a Monet composition, the fields were alive with masses of beautiful red poppies gently stirring in the light breeze.
Later that evening when I went to see the flamingoes of Almansa again, I waded through the wetlands in an attempt to get closer to the brightly coloured birds. As the sun was setting over the area a different, but equally wonderful ambience filled the air. Stunning indeed.
A couple of the locals there admiring these beautiful creatures told me there were more to be seen elsewhere in the area. My Spanish is pretty lousy but I understood I had to drive in the direction of Albacete and turn off to the left…
So, after a little googling etc, etc, I headed off in search for the flamingoes of Petrola, and, after numerous wrong left turnings, I eventually found Laguna de Petrola (Lake Petrola) – the home to a colony of flamingoes.
I could see the lake, but where were all the flamingoes??
As I walked closer to the lake, I realised what I had thought was white rock in the middle of the lake, was, in fact, the colony of flamingoes I was looking for!
Sadly, it was impossible to get very close. No matter how quietly I attempted to creep through the spiky, bug-infested bulrushes, one wrong move from me and the flamingoes took flight.
Obviously time to find other colonies in the area… so back on the road it was then!
I soon came across more lakes, ponds and flamingoes, some much nearer to the roadside than others.
I loved the way the flamingoes integrated into their surroundings. All part of a normal day!
As the day drew in, the mosquitoes came out with vengeance. While the landscape looked spectacularly aglow with a fusion of vibrant reds and yellows, it wasn’t a place you wanted to linger at this time of the evening.
Some areas possessed a more unique type of serenity;
The locals all love it around here, and for many, when the flamingoes are there, an afternoon stroll after lunch to see the flamingoes is very much part of their Sunday ritual.
This area in South East Spain is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in the region of Albacete. I think I have to agree there.