Albir lockdown, the environment and the dry river bed

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The current lockdown situation is changing our environment in many ways. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus we have been on lockdown and the town of Albir has been deserted. The lack of transportation such as cars, buses and aeroplanes also seems to have affected the climate.

The Weather

March and April are normally relatively good months weather wise. We enjoy a great deal of sunshine. We have now thankfully returned to some kind of normality but up until last week the amount of wet weather has been excessive. For an area of Spain that receives an average of 330 sunshine days in a year, we have already experienced the annual quota of 30 days of rain, in the first four months of the year.

The dry river bed

One of the main focal and navigation points in Albir is the dry river bed, as us locals call it. It runs in a straight line from the main roundabout at the Lidl and Albir Playa Hotel junction down to the main promenade and ultimately the sea. There are many bridges across the “river” allowing easy navigation around the town. Usually these are not needed because the river is dry.

The river is in fact a man-made channel that is fed by many tributaries that allow flood and storm water to roll down from the nearby higher ground and mountains out to the sea. The official name is Barranc del Soler.

Albir dry river bed
The Albir dry river bed in normal times

Following large amounts of rain the Albir river bed fills with water and actually turns into a river, occurring only once or twice a year. Normally after a few days the water dries out and we have our dry river bed back again. The river bed is a popular spot for dog walkers and those doing a direct walk shortcut from the top of the town to the beach. This traffic and lack of water keeps the vegetation minimal, but it is still a lovely natural place, shaded with tall palms.

The above photograph was taken a few years ago and shows the river bed as it was.

The new look

The extended period of wet weather, and lockdown conditions in early 2020, have made a big change to the dry river bed. Large storms in January and February filled the “Barranc del Soler”. Straight after this the lockdown began and no walkers returned. This allowed plants and the vegetation to start breaking the surface. With no foot traffic and the continuous unsettled weather the river bed has remained with a low level of water. The plantlife is blooming. What once resembled a wide dusty footpath is looking now more like an overgrown wilderness.

The below photograph was taken this week and shows the change caused by the weather and lockdown.

coronavirus albir dry river bed
The now overgrown dry river bed in Albir

Now that the weather seems to have turned I would guess that some kind of clearance will be undertaken in the near future. With the return of summer and the removal of Coronavirus restrictions people will once again start to use the river bed as a walkway and dog exercising space.

This is another example of how a few weeks of change in human habits can make a big change to natural the world we live in.

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