Threatened beauty

“What about nature in Cyprus?” you might ask. “Where are the birds, the mammals?”
Let’s start with the most famous eye-catchers: the flamingos. South of Larnaca, in the salt lakes. Larges groups and easy to see.

Apart from the flamingos, the first few days I hardly saw any birds. Very disappointing. A few common stonechats (Saxicola rubicola) – don’t need to go to Cyprus to see them. This one showed up shortly after sunrise, in the early orange light.

I soon found out why I saw so few birds. They are afraid! It is quite dangerous to be beautiful. In Cyprus, people shoot. Right after my beach house, there was a small nature reserve with a salt marsh. Information panels proudly stated how special the vegetation was. There were huge signs: Nature conservation area. No Hunting! And right after these signs, you find the empty shells. One at least at every 20 meter. No wonder I didn’t see any birds. And the ones I did see – quite special, endemic species – kept well hidden and so far away, that it was pointless to try and take pictures. I do Like Cyprus, but the hunting and shooting – even in nature reserves! – is awful.

Lots of lizards though. For instance this rock agame near Aphrodite’s bath. Previously this reptile was considered a subspecies of Laudakia stellio, but DNA research showed that Cyprus truly has its own endemic species: Laudakia cypriaca.

And another lizard, Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard (Acanthodactylus schreiberi). Quite a lot of them – even saw one on the beach.

Lots of dragonflies as well here. For instance the globe skimmer (Pantala flavescens) – a species found all over the world, able to migrate many thousands of miles during the year.

So what about the mammals in Cyprus? Of course they are present, but very, very well hidden. In between the shells, the silent witnesses of hunting in nature conservation areas, I also found fresh footprints of roe deer. The kind of deer that I can see almost daily where I live, where hunting is largely banned, but that are invisible ghosts here.

With these final remarks, I close off with some shaky air during another stunning sunrise.

Winds of change

Panta rhei. All is change. Somehow these words echoed around this week. Talking with a friend about the future of nature. Taking with elderly about getting old and seeing all that once was so familiar crumbling down. We tend to focus on what we lose during these changes, things we want to keep forever. But there is no forever.

At the age of seventeen, my friends and I went traveling by train for a month through Europe, all the way to Greece. So many precious memories! I still have a few pictures of us sleeping on the beach under the stars.

Last week we went out again, camping for the weekend at the island of Schiermonnikoog. Unfortunately on the way there we got into the worst traffic jam ever, due to a what can be described as no less than a small disaster in the regional power grid. Four hours delay – we missed our boat and we also missed the last boat of that night.

Great camping just under the green / white pole – a bit rocky though

No problem. Once again, we unrolled our sleeping bags (this time on the edge of a jetty) and slept under the stars.

The next day we took the first boat and laid down on the beach like forty-two years ago, under a clear blue sky. I felt 17 again – although swimming was a bit colder here.

The winds of change are blowing fiercely. Always. It might hurt sometimes, but there is and always will be beauty in the world. Like that stunning sunset that concluded our wonderful weekend. No Photoshop, no filters, no tricks. Just taken with the phone from the backseat of the car.

How to improvise in the dark

So I was in the UK this weekend, visiting my daughter. Thought it would be a good idea to enjoy the seaside and try to capture the Durdle Door rock formation with a milky way background. The weather forecast wasn´t great, but we went anyway.

At the beach I saw I had made a terrible mistake. I had taken a lightweight travel tripod from home, but at the last moment I had changed the head (the thingy that connects your tripod to the camera). I tried to assemble it, but it didn’t fit. Tripod and head were from different systems. You know that feeling when all the blood in your body seems to flush down through your toes into the sand?

There I was, thousands of kilometres flying and many hours driving from home, after sunset on a deserted beach. With just this one night, this one opportunity here. I owe my brave daughter a huge thanks that she insisted we stayed – even when it got dark and cold. And I improvised. Tried the limits of the equipment I had. For instance that 15 mm wide angle lens: Would it be possible to take pictures with a shutter speed of a whole second right out of the hand? I have shaky hands, and this lens did not have any shake reduction at all. But the wide angle saved me. You may be the judge; I think it’s good enough to present here.

The milky way was also shot out of the hand, lying down on the beach with the camera resting on the bag for support, With a full 5 seconds exposure. The result was far better than I expected.

Of course, I would have wanted pictures of the rock formation with a shutter speed of 30 seconds or more, to see details. And I would have loved to take the milky way with 20 or 30 seconds, to get more clear and profound details. And I would have wanted to use the auto – noise reduction of the camera. But it is what it is, and I am really happy with this no-tripod experiments.

The good news is: I have an incentive to once again visit this beautiful part of Dorset, with fairy tale like villages such as Lulworth and Corfe Castle village and Man O’War beach. And next time, with a complete and functional tripod.

Scorching heat

Another heatwave this year. You would think we would get accustomed to them, but no. The land dries out. Great times however to enjoy a beach sunset.

I did a little streetphotography – the beach variety. Two passers-by were willing to pose against the setting sun.

Tropical paradise in the Atlantic climate.

It’s worth to wait until after sunset for the ‘blue hour’. So beautiful!


Oh yes, my phone complained as well that it was really hot this weekend!

Dichtbij en ver weg

Soms vind je vlak bij huis de meest exotische locaties. Vorige week was ik in het Belgische Oostende, dat me verwende met een paar prachtige zonsondergangen. Met het on-Nederlandse licht leek het ver, heel ver weg. Dichtbij of ver weg, uiteindelijk zit het allebei in jezelf…

Kleine wereld

“Iedere zonsondergang is ook een zonsopkomt. Het hangt er maar van af waar je staat,” schreef ze.

…..
Niets aan toe te voegen.