We started the Aurora Club in Relleu with friends some six years ago prompted by a desire to explore the history and culture of our village. Talks, visiting lecturers and trips have taken place monthly – always followed by lunch, often at our local Bar Cazador – where Luis and Paloma serve local cuisine and wines. On the web-site (www.aurorarelleu.es) you can find full details of all the presentations to date. They explore  the village’s 2000 year history, local agriculture (Olives, Citrus fruit, Almonds), local customs, nearby villages, bodegas, and ancient monuments. The next meeting will be on the 20th March,  a talk on Bull Fighting and its place in Spanish culture given by Tineke Vlijm (Relleu Ayuntamiento 12.00 for 12.30).

Pictures below of a trip exploring the fascinating local geology, a walk to Relleu’s ancient dam one of the first in Spain, a cookery demonstration at an ancient valley farm-house and Tineke Vlijm introducing the Naturalist and Broadcaster Stephen Moss.

 

 

On 24th May we took a ferry over to Tabarca, an island off Cabo Santa Pola, Alicante. We can just see it on the horizon driving from Relleu to Alicante via Aguas de Busot. Formerly a roost for the aggressive Barbary pirates, the island has the remnants of a fortress citadel built in 1770 with some original housing constructed for Genoese refugees from Tunisia. Rather barren and windswept it has nonetheless become a popular place for day excursions with ferries from Santa Pola and Alicante. An off beat island, with a fascinating Geological history . Chris Lambert explained to me that it was essentially a nut between the upward grind of Africa and the South of Spain – the continental drift that threw up the Sierras and the Pyrenees. There is a conspicuous fault line scything the island in half. It has an interesting natural history too – once an enclave for Monk seals in the sea caves on the South coast. Birds include Kentish Plover, Thekla Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless Starling and a colony of Storm Petrel. We had an excellent lunch and a bracing walk before catching the Santa Pola ferry. The drive back to Relleu about an hour. The ferries from Santa Pola run once an hour and it’s half an hour across to the island.

Inspired by Stephen Moss, the broadcaster, author and ornithologist who gave  a talk in our village on ‘Mrs Moreau’s Warbler – How Birds Got their Names’, Terry Gifford and I drove an hour North to visit the 1290 hectare Bird Sanctuary at Pego. This has a remarkable list of specialities including 3 types of Heron, Stilts, Booted eagle, Little Bittern, Nightjar and occasionally Osprey – indeed there is a plan afoot to persuade Ospreys to nest there permanently. The best sight of the day for me was three or four wheeling marsh harriers and schools of saintly white Egrets. We did see a bird on a distant elevated nest  that may have been osprey, but was more likely one of the Harriers taking a break.

Stephen Moss’s Book: (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35997821-mrs-moreau-s-warbler)