Last night, Howard and I felt that we were right in the middle of ‘Spring Watch’. Having eaten out at lunchtime, last night we had opted to sit outside Oscar, under the awning, watching the wildlife show before our very eyes. By putting up the sides of the awning, and leaving the front off, we had effectively made ourselves a widescreen TV. After filling the awning with industrial quantity of citronella essence, we just sat back and enjoyed the entertainment. The activity on the lake last night after the sun had set was extraordinary. Clearly once it cools down a little, is when all the fun begins. There was a profusion of bird hormones floating around, it being the time of year that grebes select their partners. So we watched, as pairs did their strange little dances together, mirroring each others head movements, looking quite absurd. There was obviously some sort of hierarchy going on, and the larger males, who had bagged their woman, were vociferously seeing off other males, while still keeping an eye on their chosen lady. Meanwhile, the carp were going crazy. Literally, every thirty seconds or so, these enormous fish were leaping out of the water catching flies. The large Coypu was bustling around in the reeds just below us, making enormous splashes. The cacophony of noise was unbelievable! It was by far the noisiest place we have camped the entire trip – forget dog barking, loud cars or disruptive campers, this beat the lot!
We had assumed that once it got really dark, that all this din would settle down. But not a bit of it. At midnight, Howard and I were still sitting outside taking in the performance. Past one o’clock, tucked up in Oscar – it was still going on, feet from our bed. I’m not sure what time I eventually nodded off, but it took a while, since every time a fish jumped, Howard laughed. The reason for this became clear to me this morning, when I got up. Howard was off on his run, and as I tidied up the table under the awning, abandoned from last night, I found the bottle of honey and mistletoe grappa lying there, with a substantial quantity drunk. Maybe it kept the flies away, who knows?!
This morning, our plans changed at the last minute. We were starting to pack away, and head further north up the lake, but we were making slow progress. The wildlife show in front of our eyes kept distracting us. In the end, we opted for another night here, and went for a bike ride along the lake to ensure that we did at least move a little.
We cycled in the opposite direction to Sirmione, along a cycle path to the town of Piscieri del Garda. In parts, the cycle route took us alongside the busy road, but once in the town we found a quiet corner to have our lunch, looking out over the river. Piscieri is an attractive town, with thick medieval walls, and a pretty old part with narrow lanes and tiny squares. The river passes through it’s centre, feeding into Lake Garda, and an arched stone bridge connects Piscieri with a small island set aside for parkland, and then another causeway connects to a marina. It was much quieter than the bustling Sirmione we experienced yesterday, and all the better for it.
En route back to our campsite, we opted to follow the lakeside path, which was a much more pleasant way to return, and stopped for our now statutory afternoon ice-cream.
Back at the campsite, we are yet again being amused by our feathery and piscine friends. Howard is now officially an ardent wildlife watcher – who would have guessed?!!