Winter in the Algarve

Uli via pbs
Mon, 17 Jan 2022 14:52:00 PST
Dear All,

Here is my response to the points and questions raised by some of you.

The wetland we were walking was only partly wet and partly a belt of 
coastal dunes and partly slightly elevated areas which used to be 
fertile agricultural land which is not cultivated any more. But remnants 
in the form of antique windmill ruins and old almond, fig and carob 
trees document human activity.  This area is placed in between two 
"ribeiras“, seasonal streams, which both make a rivermouth into the 
Atlantic. One of the streams forms a lagoon behind the dunes, the other 
forms mudbanks. Some of the mudbanks used to be flat salines where salt 
used to be produced in the past, but not any more. During heavy rain 
there are connections between the two streams.  As this part of Europe 
has been populated since prehistoric times the landscape is never 
without human traces. But being left to its own these areas are now 
extremely valuable habitats and at the same time extremely threatened. 
Being placed in a beautiful setting on the coast with dunes (no moving 
sand, though. The dunes themselves carry a rich and very specialized 
flora) potent investors are all too eager to „develop“ these habitats. 
The guided walk was part of a well organized initiative to transform the 
area into a nature reserve before it is too late.
The dominant plant on the slightly higher, non saline sand behind the 
line of dunes is Retama monosperma. The walk was called the „snow-walk“ 
which I found odd at first but we were explained  that it referred to 
the snow like appearance when the Retama is in flower. Unfortunately it 
was still in bud…… a reason to go back in two weeks time.
There is no fence around the Mandragora……. On the contrary, it is so 
close to a path that some specimen risk to be trampled on….. I also had 
the idea to grow some plants from seed and re-introduce them later, I 
have to think about it…… but I am sure that would not be legal…..
We only visited one of the rivermouths. As we are lacking rain at the 
moment there was not much water in the stream. The rivermouth itself was 
shut off from the sea by a barrier of fresh sand washed there by the 
waves so there was a small lake of stagnant water behind the barrier. It 
looked as if this natural barrier had been reduced in height by 
bulldozers so without human influence  the mudbanks further inland would 
have been much wetter. But adjacent to the wetland there is a fantastic 
looking concrete landscape of a brand new tourism complex…….. they may 
not like a high water table……
There are two geological particularities: one is a former island now 
part of the land due to heavy sedimentation.  The rock of the former 
island is of biological lime stone which is a mere  conglomerate of 
fossils and carries a special limestone flora. The other specialty is a 
deposit of marine sediment so very far inland that is is proof of the 
devastating tsunami which took place not only in Lisbon but all along 
the Portuguese  coast. Portugal is considered a Mediterranean country 
but in fact as no access to the Mediterranean Sea at all, the entire 
coastline is Atlantic.  This tsunami was the consequence of the 
earthquake in 1755 which destroyed the entire country.

Bye for now

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