Water and wildlife

It is always good to read something new, especially good news. I was delighted to read in the 10 May edition of SUR in English that the long-awaited sewage plant for the Guadalhorce valley is now operational to process effluent from Coín, Álora and Pizarra, thereby avoiding the pollution of the river. This explains why coots and moorhens have now returned to the Guadalhorce river.

Living north of Álora we need to cross the river by a narrow bridge which has light traffic in order to get anywhere, and it was always a joy to stop and watch these beautiful birds and throw them a crust or two. That was a strong attraction some twenty years back but over the years their numbers have dwindled and in the past two years the birds have vanished. The pollution of the river water has caused them to seek a more hygienic environment and we missed them.

Now joy of joys they are back. Happily pecking for food. They are a wonderful sight with their yellow beaks. Coots are easily recognised with their white chests and black bodies as are the all-black moorhens. They belong to the same family. All are rejoicing in the clean water of yesteryear, thanks to the new plant.

My fascination with moorhens and coots goes back several years to when I had cause to spend a week on business at Schaffhausen overlooking the famous falls on the Rhine. The hotel was delightful, made entirely of wood, but the view was the main feature . The Rhine hosted a huge number of coots and moorhens swimming against the flow. After breakfast I took a walk and fed them the toast remnants. Next day, feeling a little guilty at misappropriating the hotel fare I went to the baker and bought some bread. This continued through the week and on day three I acquired an audience of fellow hotel guests keen to watch this crazy Englishman feeding the "ducks".

I left at the weekend but my observers who had a longer stay took over my role of feeder.

Good on the Junta de Andalucía in funding 15 million euros to improve the environment, making life more pleasant for both humans and wildlife.