Sunday 8th December 2002

The facilities at Stella Canaris turn out to be an underground veterinary complex. Tiled, clean, with an office, loos/showers and food preparation area - along with two large aviaries. The explanation is that the hotel grounds host a large bird zoo and have taken the care to have a full-time vet and all the right facilities to look after their birds. Good stuff. The offer of use of these facilities is even better stuff.

After the first get-together, we are sent off to find breakfast and told to get back by 9.30 for the first collecting stint.

It takes 45 minutes of our 1 hour break to discover that there are no cafés open on the seafront. So we head back to the complex. At the entrance, under the stairs we had walked down 45 minutes earlier, there is a nice café-cum-supermarket dispensing caffeine and juices in various forms to all and sundry.

Refreshed, we gather back at the vet complex for the mission hand-out.

There is even an electric buggy so, as the car-freak, Mike "volunteers" to run around the site delivering cages and collecting cats. Anything to avoid walking.

The teams wander around the barren landscape at the back of the complex, visiting all the places that have been described to us as crawling with moggies. The staff quarters; the car park; the dustbins; the stables; the swimming pool. Nothing.

We hurtle around the site on the buggy and discover that the brakes are the reason why we were advised not to go uphill. Uphill is fine - coming back down is also fine. At least until you want to slow down enough to go round the hairpin by the stables. Hmmmm.

Still nothing. Then we stumble across Mary who has found and trapped a mid-sized female by the bins behind Palmeral (a bit of the complex up on the south side hill). The hunt is on!

Our proudest moment is finding a small group of black cats. There's a small area of scrubland - a few trees, shrubs and occasional hedge - sandwiched between the staff quarters and a guest block. In here, Ros spots a couple of teenaged kittens (3 months or so) and their mother. Very nervy.

While we cogitate how to get these, we spot a large black gentleman sunning himself some metres away. We set a trap and go back to the problem of the mother & kittens.

The "clunk" of our first trap going off is exciting and, though we've never heard it before, unmistakeable. A sprint through the scrub reveals our first success. The big black tom is inside and unhappy. After covering the cage, we take him back to the vetcomplex. Boy, he's heavy. But by 1:10pm he was ready to be just a little bit lighter.

Ros learns the Marshall trick to get cats into cages without the use of a trap.

In the afternoon, we were sent off with Ted and Marshall to find the temporary apartments which had been arranged - with the help of Beata - at Costa Calma.

Ted was convinced he knew a short cut to the apartments and directed us round the back of the complex. Several unsuccessful recces later, we admit defeat and try to find the complex reception once more. We find two key facts:

  1. the room numbering is wrong. When the key says Room 168, what it means is Room 68. There is no Room 168;
  2. Ted was right. During our recces, we had passed our apartments a number of times. But we were confused by looking for the number on the key - which didn't exist. See fact 1).

Still, after finding the correct apartment, all we could do was to find the closest place of refreshment which happened to be 50m away and run by Roger. Thanks Roger - just what we needed!

Back on site in the afternoon, we stalk and trap around the complex until it's time to go and end up with the crew in Roger's bar. Not too late for us, though, there's an early start planned on the complex where we're staying.

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