The Porters certainly chose a memorable year to move to Malta. We have had the coldest, wettest winter here for 90 years, the hottest summer for 60+ years, and now we have had the worst storm in living memory This last is the main subject of this newsletter, but first a catch-up of other bits and pieces.
Sad news on our turtle front. The beach on which her eggs were laid had a deep-set layer of blue clay which, combined with the storm’s low temperatures and intense rain resulted in the death of the developing baby turtles in the egg. Examination showed that they were quite far int0 their development and had things been different, some may have hatched. If the female returns next year, some other plan will have to be adopted if the little ones are to survive.
Staying on the natural history front, the migrating birds are coming through now. The swallows were the first harbingers of the annual flight south of the travelling bird population, and every morning, at breakfast as we look out over our valley down to the sea, we are treated to the acrobatics of the martins who do a good job of keeping the mosquitoes and other fliers from our coffee! Thankfully our dragonflies are too big for them to tackle and we still see their scintillating reds and blues as they pass safely by.
We think we have seen an eagle – which is not far-fetched – as many do pass through here, but it was not a definitive identification. A beautiful mysterious visitor has left us flummoxed. It was a small warbler, with typical pointed beak, had a sleek grey/shading to green back, very light breast and the clearest cream handlebar-type mustache which seemed to be curling under the cheeks. We could not find it in our book of Maltese native birds, and do not have our other field guides here. So, we’ll have to wait until our return to the UK to try to identify it. If anyone reading this has an idea what it might be, we would love to know.
Now to the storm. This was horrendous if you were affeted by the sheer destructive force, but quite magnificent if you wre tucked up watching it – which we almost were. We discovered that there is no lip at our front door to keep heavy rain out. Lawrence and our dinner guest had to investigate when we heard the dreaded, regular, soggy plop-plop of drips hitting the sofa under the staircase as the water wended its way from the front door across the landing to then drop on the head of any unsuspecting person sitting on the sofa below! Fortunately we found it before the torrent arrived or we would have had a cataract flowing down our stairs. Every towel was used to contain the flood.
Having saved the furniture,we had a lovely evening and night watching the biggest electrical storm I have ever witnessed. Instead of writing descriptively about it, the best way to show you its enormity is with the following pictures which speak for themselves. Thanks to John Navarro for sending them to me.
These pictures can be seen in greater detail by clicking on the picture. Looking at this one made me almost feel the static. This was taken in the south-west of Malta. Very scary.
No-one was hit by this strike, thankfully, but this photo captures the terrifying beauty of the storm.
This looks more like the Caribbean, but it was taken looking out to Marsaxlokk Bay.
Hard to believe this was a busy street. The next few are not so calm.
This is one of the busiest roundabouts in Malta. Confusing even when you can see the white lines.
The driver made it safely out, but it was not an easy exit.
Not always safety in numbers.
I don’t fancy taking my kayak or canoe down this one!
When we first arrived in Malta, I wondered why there were so many large run-off channels. I know now!
As the water recedes, the vehicles are accessible, but enormous clean-up jobs were needed.
Not just vehicles were damaged. Homes were flooded out and roads were destroyed. The Maltese in their pragmatic fashion had everything running in a basic way very quickly.
This tunnel is one of the most frequently used on the island. It is a main thoroughfare, which was totally flooded out. The lights stayed on, as you can see!
All in all, it was an experience that holidaymakers would not have expected. We sat up all night watching a display of sheet lightning that rivalled the Aurora Borealis – which I have yet to see in the real world. The power of the storm made us realise that if Mother Nature decides to vent her wrath, there is not much we can do about it. There was one fatality from a lightning strike, and many near misses with the water, but there is cause to be thankful that the cost of this storm to Malta was more economic than human.
I will be going into blog silence for a few weeks as I am returning to the UK for knee surgery. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Until then, very best wishes to everyone.