Did I say I love waterfalls? Plenty of them here in Iceland
Did I say I love waterfalls? Plenty of them here in Iceland
Away from the paved roads into an alien world. Desolate. Windy. And once again bloody cold
The target is Katla glacier in Iceland. Cold winds have covered the icecap during many centuries in volcanic dust
A hostile but beautiful environment
I’m glad we came in these specially prepared ‘super jeeps’ that are able to drive over rocks and ice and through small glacier rivers
Bubbles of boiling hot vapour push the surface upward until they break through and Strokkur erupts. In the Netherlands we call these geothermal steam-eruptions ‘geisers’. This generic name is derived from this specific spot: Geysir in Iceland…
Steamy Strokkur. Minus ten degrees Celcius (fourteen Fahrenheit) makes it bloody cold right next to this boiling pond.
Geothermical area around Geysir and Strokkur. Steam everywhere…
Another geothermal area is Krysuvik or Seltun. A small path leads through the hot springs and steamy rivers.
The smell of sulfur is all around.
As a young boy I had a book of stories from all over the world. It had a drawing of a lone fur trapper in the woods, staring at the northern lights sky. I loved that drawing. Such wildness, such loneliness and such beauty! I dreamt of being in the wild myself and seeing the aurora borealis. But I had visited Iceland in summer once, with 5 days of just clouds and rain and wind (We were camping then, my daughter and I, and after 4 days of rain we fled into the first hotel we could find to get dry. Despite the rain and the clouds and the wind it was a great holiday, for even when it rains Iceland is really beautiful).
So I hesitated. What were the chances of going in winter and having both an active aurora and a clear sky? For years I didn’t dare to take the risk and buy a ticket.
Until last November, when I realised that if I didn’t try, I would surely never see it. I bought a ticket and… well, see for yourself.
There’s no need to go to a special dark place to see the aurora. You can see it right from the city. Reykjavic for instance, or more precisely: the bay of Kopavogur.
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!
A little more nature here, but now from Netherlands. These pictures are taken during a work-visit to a nature reserve in the dunes. First the the tree frog – boomkikker above. Genetic research proved that this population originated somewhere in the Mediterranean. Probably deliberately released, which could lead to a loss of genetic diversity.
Azure bluet – azuurwaterjuffer. Common in this part of Europe.
Lots of marsh helleborine – moeraswespenorchis here. Quite rare in the Netherlands, but if the water quality is okay it can pop up with a lot of enthusiasm.
Grasshopper – but what species? I’m afraid I don’t know, so feel free to leave your guess.
Another grasshopper, the great green bush-cricket – grote groene sabelsprinkhaan.
Parnassia, one of my favorites. Used to be quite rare, but thanks to the efforts of nature conservation organizations they have returned. Every day, one stamen rises until all five of them are standing up.
Last one: the common midwife toad. Also alien to this area, so probably also deliberately released. This was a young one. It still has it’s tadpole tail.
Previous post I said: Thousands of pictures. Too much nature. I´ll keep it brief this time.
First of all, that blue dragonfly above. I’m not sure of the species, it might indeed just be ´Blue dragonfly´. Feel free to mention the name if you know it. Same for the yellow one below. If you know the species, let me know! Both of them were resting in a small nature reserve between Savannah and Beaufort.
What´s next? An encounter with a snake near Chattahoochee river. Common garter, friendly and not poisonous. So no worries.
Sand martin. Whole families were learning their offspring to fly and hunt for insects above the river.
Another bird, a killdeer (why that name?). Common kind of plover. Picture taken while canoeing – it’s really great to jump in a canoe on a sunny day!
This one was taken in the city of Atlanta, Memorial Park, a few months ago. Some kind of mushroom – tried to capture the lightness and luminousity of it.
Last one to close this series: the bamboo forest at the banks of the river.
Every time in the USA I am overwhelmed by the abundance of nature. There is so much to see! I come home with thousands of pictures. Let me show a few of them here.
I woke up with birds singing, and they kept on singing all day long. You don’t need to go out to do birding, you can just sit on your veranda and they come to you. The intense red of the Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) – just can’t stop taking pictures! I have them hunting for insects in the grass, singing and hiding in the bushes, but this one I like most: sunbathing in the scorching sun.
Then the eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis). Such beautiful colours! Funny, the nuthatch in the Netherlands has almost the same colours, but is a little paler.
“Look at those cute squirrels!”
I was immediately corrected. “They are not cute. They are rats with a tail. They climb through the rain gutter, come into the house. They gnaw and make a huge mess!”
“They won’t be that bad will they?” I thought. But indeed. They’re everywhere. Really everywhere, in huge numbers, in and around the houses.
In Europe, the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is considered an invasive alien species. They eradicated the indigenous red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in most of the United Kingdom, as they are bigger, stronger and resistant to squirrel diseases they carry.
“What about those chipmunks? Those ‘ground squirrels’, as we call them?”
“Less bad than the grey squirrels. But I still don’t need them in the garden. They dig holes everywhere.”
I have to t confess: last week in my garden back home I saw mouse holes. Shrews probably, there are a lot of them here. And my first thought was: How do I get those bloody mice out of my garden?
Anyhow, the Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) is not considered an invasive species in Europe. But it’s nephew, the Siberian chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus) is.
Another unwelcome animal. That is: In Europe again. Many red eared sliders (Trachemys scripta) have been imported as pets. So cute, these tiny baby-sliders with their flip-flop-feet! But baby sliders grow big, too big for small aquariums, and the entire house starts to smell. Eventually all these imported pet sliders are dumped in nature. No one wants to kill his pet, and the animal shelters are full. The pet industry doesn’t care – when a European ban on import and trade was imminent, thousands of extra baby sliders were rapidly imported and ‘put in storage’. To be able to continue selling them for some time after the ban. Anyhow, the one on the picture is enjoying his natural habitat. In the USA.
– To be continued –
‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls,’ TLC sings. The expression puzzles me, for I can’t combine the beautiful image of waterfalls with bad or self-destructive behaviour, what the song is about. I love waterfalls. Probably because I live in the Netherlands, a country devoid of any. So when I’m abroad, I don’t miss a chance to visit one. If you would come to my house, you’d find one printed as wallpaper. I sleep under my own waterfall, every night. ‘Don’t go jumping waterfalls,’ Paul McCartney sings. Now that I do understand. Jumping them would be very unwise indeed.
Here’s a few waterfalls from the last USA trips. Amicalola, Cloudland canyon and Big canoe. The names alone are enough to make me dream away into different worlds.