The First Spring Walk

Since we first came here we have had great intentions to do a lot more walking.  Of course, as you might have expected, real life has got in the way of that.  There is always other stuff to do.  And because we have spent the whole of January getting to grips with tree pruning, sewing projects and illness we really felt that we needed to blow some cobwebs away and get out the house and off the finca.

We went to Proserpina.   This is a favourite haunt of ours when the weather is really hot and we can go swimming but at this time of year it is also a fab place to walk.

Especially if like me (and Fergus), you are not really fit enough for a very long walk and don't want to do scrabbling over rocks or up hills.

The distance is almost 6km all the way around the lake and it was actually very busy.

A lot of people had the same idea.  There were kayak's on the lake.  Fishermen both on the lake and around the edges.  People walking with dogs, small children learning to ride bikes and several bars and cafe's open for lunch.

We saw a lot of wildlife.  Nesting Storks getting ready for egg laying, Ducks, Moor hens, Egrets, Magpies, A Golden Oriole, Spring definitely seemed to have sprung here with all the birds showing typical mating behaviour.  And strangely these geese.

Two are hunkered down onto the sand and they definitely look like wild geese but also two standing tall who look for all the world like domestic geese that have escaped.  Maybe.

The scariest thing we saw are these....

Do you see the white blobby things hanging from the pine trees?

Do you know what they are?  Lets look a little closer....

They are nests for the Processionary Caterpillar. (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) They are quite common here in Spain and children are brought up knowing that they should leave them well alone.  For dogs it's a different story.  If the dog steps on them the hairs of the caterpillar will severely irritate the paw, the dog then licks the paw and it's tongue becomes irritated.  The toxin in the hairs of the caterpillar can cause necrosis and the worst case scenario is that the dog's tongue may have to be amputated.  Death is not uncommon.  My vet has already sent out a warning because the caterpillar season is almost upon us.  If your dog (or indeed a human being) is 'stung' you must seek medical attention immediately.  You should bathe the area with warm water constantly until you get to the vet or the hospital.

I wonder if the trees will be sprayed at all given that this is a very public area and one where lots of children and dogs come to play?  I can't remember seeing the nests before and thankfully we always set up our chairs under the eucalyptus trees rather than the pines.  The caterpillars prefer the pines because they feast on the needles.

The coolest thing about these caterpillars is that they literally do 'process' nose to tail and nothing seems to put them off.  An experiment was done back in the early 20th century where they were arranged marching in a circle and food was put just outside of the circle, The caterpillars ignored the food and continued to march around and around for a fortnight!  Mother Nature can be very crazy (and scary).

So.  For all my Spanish friends and readers.  Take care while walking your dogs and don't collect pine cones in spring time (which is something I did last year, with dog!  Who knew?)


  1. Ooo I'm proper jealous! Though our temperatures have risen steeply these last few days, it's another month until we see storks and longer for orioles.
    Don't fancy your caterpillars though, maybe it's a good thing to have mostly deciduous trees, despite the starkness in winter

  2. Yeah it's definitely spring here, some of the storks over winter but most of them come back around the first week of January. The pine trees that the caterpillars like are the ones you get pine nuts from... I was considering planting some but have changed my mind. Thankfully we have none on our finca and the pines seem to be centred more around the lakes and canals. Might explain the price of pine nuts.


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