Our Camping Pitch Wildlife

At the end of this piece there is a video, lasting just over 2 minutes. It showcases some of the wildlife you might come across here. Please do not expect wandering herds of Wildebeests, or a David Attenborough commentary. Do expect all participating creatures to have been filmed on, or near, the campsite and not in a zoo ….

What a luxury it is to lie in bed in the morning, cup of tea in hand and watch the wildlife parade before your bedside window. Some mornings, almost nothing happens. Other mornings,we are treated to a panoply of creatures, doing what ever it is they do, as we slurp our brew.

This winter, we have added more ‘rarities’ to our list of visitors. We have also crept about the site at night, like a couple of weirdo’s, seeking out the shy and/or nocturnal; slugs,snails, cats and geckos.

Campsite cats; probably the top predator here.

The results are a host of critters, all dropping by to forage and feed, or hanging out in their favourite places, waiting for a meal to wander past.

Long Tailed Tits

To be honest, most of what we see will be familiar to you, so we wont bore you with long descriptions of the obvious. Instead we will add a few notes on those unusual characters that brighten our day, or force us to consult Dr Google for more information. The numbers below, should match those on the picture at the top.

Red Squirrel

1. We are very fortunate to have a Red Squirrel colony on site. Many of the squirrels can be hand fed and are very fussy eaters, refusing all offerings except nuts. Each squirrel is identifiable by it’s colouration and damage. There are no black coloured Red Squirrels here. The squirrels feature heavily in our little video.

Sardinian Warbler

5. Sardinian Warbler. Yes, you knew it was a bird, but not one we see much of in the UK, unless you are a bit of a twitcher. It is cute, often holding it’s tail up like a Wren. It has a bright red eye and it is very common on site. Males are black headed and grey backed and the females are ….. need we paint a picture? Generally it does not migrate, it nests in low shrubs, although here it would lose it’s young to the many cats on site. I cannot explain why I constantly call it a Siberian Warbler; old age getting the better of me?

Blackbird with a lot of white feathers.

7. Blackbirds are not a rarity, except that here, they have a gene that gives rise to some birds having white markings (leucism). Ours has an almost entirely white head and is disputing the pitch boundary with a very ordinary Blackbird. Some short footage of one of their typical battles is included on the video. At home we have a similar gene in our garden’s Blackbird population, giving us the lovely Roger Moore, he had one white ‘eyebrow’ permanently raised and was the son of whitey.

Decollate Snail

13. The snails here are a revelation. So many new ones to us. All you need do is look out for the ‘dead’ shells during the day, or head out at night with a torch. 11o’clock onwards is the best time to go hunting; what else would you be doing at that time of night? Our favourite, the Decollate snail, lovely shell.

Mediterranean Gecko

16. Gecko’s are plentiful on the campsite. They emerge, year round on warm evenings, clinging impossibly to walls and waiting for food to pass by. Generally, they seem to be territorial; if you find one, it will be there every time you pass. They try to stay out of reach and here they keep within range of a light fitting so that they can catch and eat the insects that are drawn to them. They like to have a cable, or roof tile, or loose bark to slip behind and out of sight.The wash house has a good sized specimen where we have placed the number 16 in the picture. The most easily seen type of Gecko we have seen here (January – June) is the Moroccan or Crocodile Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica). The hugely common, Mediterranean Gecko (Hemidactylis turcicus) does hang out at this campsite, but all we ever find are babies. The Mediterranean Gecko has colonised huge swathes of the world.

22. Mediterranean Pale Glow-Worms are to be found glowing, in our experience, low down in the shrubby areas beside the seafront promenade. We saw them in mid March, at about 2am as we walked back from the Fallas shenanigans. In January this year, in the middle of the day, we also picked up this beauty on the path to the lighthouse. It was crossing the gravel track. A clumsy mover, it made it’s way caterpillar style at the back end, whilst using it’s legs, all at the front end, to haul itself forward. Like the proverbial chicken, we guessed it was probably trying to get to the other side. These are unmistakeable creatures and it was great to help it cross it’s road.

Mammoth Wasp

23. We wandered past the biggest wasp we have ever seen, and although it was sipping nectar from a plant beside the path, outside the campsite, we have included it. It is a Mammoth Wasp (Megascolia maculata), Males have a black head and the much larger females have a yellow head. Females can be 6cm/2.4ins long. Only the females have a sting and venom, which they use to paralyse the host grub for their young. They lay an egg in the pre-paralysed grub of the Rhinoceros Beetle and the rest you are welcome to imagine.

Hummingbird Hawk-Moths

24. Humming Bird Hawk-Moths (Macroglossum stellatarum) are common around here, once the weather warms up. One balmy evening, here on the campsite, we enjoyed watching one as we drank a beer in the bar. Despite being two a penny, they look so exotic that, whenever we see them, we get far too excited for our own good health. The very best place to see them locally, is where the sandy beach starts, just as you leave Denia. The plant borders alongside the boardwalk thrum with them when the temperature is up around the high twenties, we saw them in June. Often seen in the UK too.

Processionary Moth

28. This campsite has no problem with the infamous Pine Processionary Moth, because it has a regime of spraying in place in order to prevent infestation. Despite this, we have one colony on site, next to us, which will be ‘dealt with’ very soon (now gone). The colony I am shaking up in the movie was off site, but nearby. The life cycle is straight forward; eggs laid in pine trees in the summer by the parent moth that has one day to complete the task before dying. The hatchlings emerge in the Autumn, and feed on pine needles. In January the caterpillars get together and form the distinctive nest which becomes home for the winter. They sleep by day in their nest and forage in their pine tree for needles to eat by night. In the spring, they leave their nest and their host tree to find somewhere suitable to pupate, often, but not always soil. This is when they can be seen processing along the ground, nose to tail.

Why the concern over a moth? It is all because when the caterpillars come out of their spidery nursery cocoon, high in trees, to wriggle along the ground, in single file, they look very sweet. Pets and young children are fascinated by them and love to investigate anything new. However, if the caterpillars are touched, their hairs can cause an allergic reaction, fatal in some cases.

27. The Black Redstart is a nice enough looking bird until it flies off. Then you get a flash of it’s red tail; all very flamenco.

Whilst here on site, we have seen or heard everything, from the tiny and yet complex Ant up to the top predator, the Tawny Owl. All this in an area no bigger than our courtyard garden at home. It is remarkable what is out there waiting to be admired.

We hope the little movie was to your liking. Let us know if there are other must see creatures here on the Costa Blanca and what you think of this article, by clicking on the reply box below and leaving a message. If you would like an automatic email whenever we post articles, click the ‘follow’ box below on the right.

Camp Sushi

Sushi is so easy to make, and once you have given it a go, it is a quick meal to knock together.

Sushi is a long and difficult word to spell, that is all I have to say in my confused defence!

Make and enjoy this, the ultimate store cupboard dish for two hungry campers.

Please feel free to leave us a message.

The Happy Hoeple Grouple

The Dutch have a word for Hula Hooping, Hoeple, it sounds like hoople.

All it took was one person to turn up to a yoga class with a hula hoop and a group of old birds got into a flap; instantly. Why would anyone bring a hula hoop to a yoga session? Who knows. This was the moment that marked the start of what became The Happy Hoeple Grouple.

The Happy Hoeple Grouple

At ten every morning we would gather to hoeple, roping in any passing, or gawping person who was daft enough to make eye contact with a Hoeple Grouple member. Men and women, old and older, from all sorts of European nations were press-ganged into giving it a go, with varying degrees of success and much laughter.

Our tiny gang of English people burgeoned to include a Dutch beginner. It seems that what us plucky Brits take for granted, the enforced hulaing at infant and primary school, is a British preserve. For the rest of Europe, hula hooping is a novelty, like stilt walking or unicycling, best left in the circus ring.

Hoeple Grouple Movie

Our Dutch beginner took four weeks to learn to hula with grace, which meant she became our; Happy Hoeple Grouple Star Pupil 2019. She says she will lead the group next year, but not in hoepling, but in art. And when you take a look here at Josien’s work, you will understand why we are all as giddy as old goats about our next winter here, learning to paint beautiful handbags like a pro.

Artist and Houple Grouple Star Pupil Josien Broeren


Grab a packet of tortilla wraps. Any size will do, but they must sit flat in the bottom of your cast iron pan and under your saucepan lid, ideally.

Before you strike a match, prepare all vegetables, including your salad.

Gather all the tools and pans you will need.

Tomato base:

*1T Oil

*1 Tin of tomatoes

*1T tomato puree

*1T herbs – any Italian

*1 finely chopped onion

*1 grated garlic clove

Method 1:

1. Put oil in the saucepan and heat gently

2. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 2 – 5 minutes without a lid. The more finely that things are chopped, the faster they will cook and the smoother the look. At home? Whizz it.

3. Once reduced a little, mash with a spud masher, turn off the and allow to cool.

Prepare your toppings:

*3 or 4 types of thinly sliced, quick cook/Mediterranean vegetables; have what you fancy.

*Cheese – sliced or broken Mozzarella, goats. Grated cheddar, parmigiana, smoked; as much or little of the one/s you like.

*Fish or meat – ready or quick cook is best

*Fun bits – Herbs, freshly squeezed lemon juice, chilli flakes, pepper. Scatter all over each pizza just before popping it on the heat.

Method 2:

1. Put the lid on your cast iron pan and heat gently until you think it’s medium hot.

2. Build your first pizza. Do not over pile with stuff, as the bottom will overcook before the topping has fully warmed. Less is more with these little critters.

3. Place the built pizza into your pre-heated, cast iron pan and cover with the smallest lid you have. You have now made a tiny oven. You can place a folded tea towel on top of the lid to help conserve the heat.

4. Build the next pizza while the first one cooks.

4. Give your first pizza a few minutes and then check and adjust the heat to get a perfect finish; crispy, brown bottom and hot, gooey top. You know they are cooked when the cheese has melted.

5. You will now have a production line.

Serve with a lightly dressed salad:-

Plain English – lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato

Moroccan – Finely diced tomato, red onion, cucumber

Tropical – Vegetables; a little of what you fancy, plus fresh and/or dried fruit, diced in, apple, orange, mango, pear …. one type of fruit or a mixture.

Tropical nut – As the ‘Tropical Salad’ but with added diced nuts and seeds ….. any combo works.

Morocco Trek (part 2)

Fes to Moulay Bosselham and Tangier Med

Meknes, Moulay-Idriss

On the day before we left Fes we decided to do a short circular ride-out from Camping International taking in Meknes and a small town called Moulay Idriss. In all, the route was about 120miles in total. The day was bathed in warm sunshine and it was a pleasurable ride. The first 30 miles was on the National Route N6; uninspiring. The road, though well made, was boringly flat, wide and straight for the most part.

After following a local bus, and absorbing it’s fumes for several miles, we arrived in Meknes. The journey took around an hour. We drifted through the traffic filled streets of this modern city, looking for somewhere to park. After a while we found a vacant car parking space and pulled into it. Immediately we were approached by an official looking, but amicable guy in a fluorescent vest. He indicated that the space we occupied was for cars only, but beckoned to a place on the pavement where we could put the bikes. We still don’t know the official status of these ‘parking attendants’ but they appeared in most of the towns we visited. For the donation of a few Dirhams they not only park you, but will guard the bikes while you are away. Even the helmets were left with the bikes and remained unmolested until our return. Much of the Moroccan economy seems to work this way, begging, though rare, is seen as an acceptable economic activity. It is not uncommon to walk a street and see a series of identically small provision stores virtually side by side.

We had a tea break in a street cafe and considered our options. It had become too hot to contemplate wandering around this modern part of the city, in our biking gear. There was, apparently, an ancient medina, but it was some way off and we had had our fill in Fes. We handed over a few coins to the smiling guardian of parking, mounted our steeds and with the aid of iMaps we were soon out of town.

After a short ride we climbed the road winding into the town of Moulay-Idriss. As we approached, we ignored the gesticulating locals and found ourselves a perfect parking spot without any assistance. The day had become warm and sunny, possibly too warm for wearing biking gear, as we wandered into the town. Idriss was typical of the small towns we had encountered, built into the steep terrain with narrow winding streets. We had successfully fended of the attentions of an insistent young man who kept offering to show us the sights and continued to drift around the maze of streets until, after some time, we had to backtrack from the blind alley we had reached. Looking like lost tourists we were easy prey to a pleasant older man who, encouraged by our apparent confusion, latched on to us. He had closed and locked the tiny store he had been supervising and joined us with a smile. The views from the small terraces dotted around the town were spectacular but after 10 mins we were tired and in need of refreshment. The airy town square was encircled by restaurants and shops with a large mosque on one side; a pleasant place to watch the world go by. Eventually we had to return to the campsite in Fes and ready ourselves for decamping and hitting the road; destination Rabat.


We had decided to avoid the main, and busiest roads whilst traveling in Morocco, and as a result of this policy had found some excellent rural byways. Our route to the Atlantic passed through countryside which consisted of rolling hills of cultivated land. We halted for liquid refreshment at a roadside halt, here we became objects of some curiosity especially, I suspect, when Jen removed her helmet. Although French is the country’s second language, in rural places, Arabic is often the only spoken language. The tea we had ordered, after some confusion, arrived and was a full bodied infusion of various leaves; without milk.

By late afternoon we arrived at the coast, the only campsite we could find was closed; our problems had begun. After being directed to an accommodation; the middle of a roundabout in the middle of nowhere, then riding around looking for an hotel without success, we were rescued by a knight in shining armour, in the unlikely guise of a small delivery truck. The driver, spotting us sitting on a kerbstone, peering into the glowing iphone, commanded we follow him to a ‘good hotel’. A frantic pursuit through the, now darkened, busy streets of Rabat ensued, with us desperately hanging onto the back of a furiously driven truck, finally we halted in front of the opulent sprawl of the Hotel Spa Dawliz. The driver refused, absolutely, to accept any reward. “You are a guest in my country” he proclaimed and handed Jen a chocolate bar. We shook hands and waved furiously as our saviour disappeared. The uniformed guards lifted the barrier and parked us close by, so that they might provide all night security for the bikes. Though thoroughly dishevelled and wearing our grubby bike gear the receptionist was charming, even when she discovered we were ‘walk ins’, without a reservation. The room was huge, the bed was huge and we were hugely knackered. We spread our gear liberally around the room in order to make it more homely and, after a spruce up, went down to the bar for an expensive beer.

The following morning, after an expansive breakfast, we left the hotel and it’s panoramic views of Rabat beyond the adjacent river and turned north away from the city. A perusal of the map had revealed a large,coastal, lagoon about 100 miles to the north of Rabat; we all know that lagoons mean birds, lots and lots of birds. We had decided to use the main autoroute, with it’s tolls, trucks and fast moving traffic. There was a, cold, coastal mist settling on the road and surrounding countryside which rendered the ride uncomfortably unpleasant. After a few hours we were thankful to reach the exit for Moulay Bousselham, the fog had lifted and the day was warm and sunny as we rode the handful of miles to town.

Moulay Bousselham

Moulay Boussalem is a small fishing port with a natural, protected haven at the seaward end of the lagoon. There are floating moorings where numerous sturdy looking open boats are stationed. The moorings are shielded by a large sandbar almost separating the lagoon from the Atlantic beyond, with a small natural channel allowing access to the fishing grounds. The boats, with their high, sharp prows, are able to punch their way through the shoreline surf to reach the bounty beyond. From tiny sardines and sprats to large tuna and sharks the variety of the fish landed is vast. What cannot be sold on the beach is carted away on the ubiquitous three wheeled pickup trucks to local markets and beyond. The campsite is adjacent to the beach where the catch is landed, a tranquil field with sheep and horses replacing lawnmowers. The services are a little archaic and the hot water supply intermittent, but the atmosphere is slow paced and relaxing. A small on site restaurant and it’s smiling young manager, supplies mint tea, delicious food and wifi.

Much of the town sits on the cliffs overlooking the beach and lagoon. Several restaurants supply a variety of food and a small market behind them sells fresh fish, vegetables, fruit and ‘cook while you wait’ street food. We ate at one restaurant, sitting on a rickety wooden terrace, a lookout to the western horizon, the sun was setting with one of those vivid displays that sear the memory, as well as the retina.

During our stay we met Omar and his extended family, took a trip around the lagoon, shared a fresh fish BBQ with John from the UK and had an in depth political discussion with a ‘comrade’ from the Chinese royal family. These are the magical things that happen when you extend your horizons. At times you will feel unsettled, or anxious ,or even fearful; more often you will feel welcomed, sometimes admittedly for your wealth, but also because people want you to be happy and safe in their country.

We had finally to tear ourselves away from Moulay Bousselham and head for Spain. This would be our last full day in Morocco and rather than trek around the coast we decided to enjoy our last day in the hills. We had booked a B & B in Ksar-es-Seghir 5 minutes from the port. Unfortunately it was very windy which rather spoilt the ride. This was more than compensated for by the comfort afforded by the ‘Villa Marine’, attentive staff, great food and the bikes under lock and key.

Tangier Med

Okay the ferry was more than 5 minutes away; by about two minutes and we did spend much of the day shivering in the windy docks (see our other blog posts). We finally boarded late in the afternoon, after arriving dockside before ten in the morning.


Would we recommend Morocco? Short answer is ‘without doubt’. You will feel gently hassled on occasion, but many of the people that approach you are just trying to get by. The Moroccans are very tolerant of anyone trying to earn a crust and we tried to be the same. We saw very little begging, we also met many people who were trying to redistribute some of our wealth to their benefit. Try not to loose a sense of proportion or humour. Do not, as I did, get stroppy over being charged the equivalent of less than two quid for two teas! Smile a lot, learn the Arabic for hello, please and thank-you. Sometimes paying a guy, £40 for seven hours of his time, is a small price to pay for better understanding of his culture. The people of Morocco, at least most of the ones we met, are happy, helpful people. Like the good socialist I am, I say ‘share the wealth brothers’.