Thursday, 30 December 2010

Spanish Flu!

We spent from the 22nd to 29th December in La Linea de la Concepcion. La Linea, as it is generally known is on the main land side of the line that separates the British overseas territory of Gibraltar from Spain.

We left from Luton in snow, and we were lucky that our take off was only delayed by two hours 45 minutes. We were even luckier that our plane landed in Gibraltar as scheduled, all others that day were diverted to Malaga due to high winds, we go in during a short lull. The view from the hotel window over looked on of the marinas and I had lots of views of Yellow-legged Gulls and Shags roosting out in the harbour. The focal point of the trip was Eliot's (our youngest grandson) baptism on Boxing day, but of course we had a great time with Rocio's family with meals on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Unfortunately the last few days were somewhat subdued for me as I developed what I presume was some sort of flu. I got through the Boxing Day formalities, and family party, but then spent much of the last three days in bed asleep.

A large wet area along side the road hosted various birds when I had a look round. There were several Black Redstarts, one of which did pop onto our balcony wall one day, but didn't hang around for long. They seem to be quite common in any open piece of ground in the town.

White Wagtails were also prominent, both in the wet areas and on the roofs of the town buildings.

Of course if you've go Black Redstarts you also have to have an ugly fence for them to perch on!

The rock had hundreds of Yellow-legged Gulls circling the peak. Unfortunately at this time of year they aren't joined but groups of migrating raptors and storks.

Any Larophile can study the various age plumages of Yellow-legged Gulls for the cafe at the top of the cable car.

The views from the top are quite spectacular. I hadn't really appreciated quite how much development there is on Gibraltar until we were able to look down from the top.

The runway juts out into the sea on both sides of the rock. Behind it you can see the marina and our hotel.

You can't go to Gibraltar without going to see the Barbary Macaques. It is the only population of these monkeys on mainland Europe. There is a population of about 230 animals in five troupes. As they are a tailless species, they are also known locally as Barbary Apes or Rock Apes, despite the fact that they are monkeys (Macaca sylvanus).

Like all monkeys grooming plays a major part in their social activities. They are of course habituated to people and this leads some people to act very stupidly, despite the warnings. They can be quite viscous and will inflict nasty bites.
All Gibraltar Barbary Macaques are descended from North African populations of Barbary Macaques. DNA evidence has established beyond doubt that the present population of Gibraltar macaques is of relatively recent Algerian and Moroccan origin. No traces were found of a third source for their DNA, namely of any ancient, no longer surviving Iberian population. An earlier theory, now dis-proven by the DNA evidence, was that the original Gibraltar macaques were a remnant of populations that had spread throughout Southern Europe during the Pliocene, up to 5.5 million years ago.
The original introduction of the macaques was probably by the Moors (who occupied southern Iberia, including Spain and Portugal, between 711 and 1492) for use as pets.

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