A Walk in the mountains – Dent de Crolles

Flashback. October 9, this is my last week-end in France before long. My dad and I have decided to climb the Dent de Crolles, an imposing mountain overlooking the Grésivaudan valley, not far from Grenoble. As a matter of fact, it’s right above the Plateau des Petites Roches, and its funicular

09.00, the car’s thermometer reads 3ºC. Quickly, we get out of the car. Click, the bag is closed, clac, the camera is set at my side, we are ready.

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And there was autumn

When I left France, we were barely leaving summer. Nights were getting fresh, but the only hints of orange in the forest came from dead trees, those which didn’t survive the latest heat wave.

I feared I would arrive in Helsinki after the end of the autumn colors, what they call here “ruska”. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, and the ruska was in full swing! So I took a walk on my first day, going from Munkkivuori to Ilmala, visiting a patch of kitchen gardens, a residential area, a park and a forest. Yes, I did not even leave Helsinki, yet I did all this in one afternoon.


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Up Is Down

Hello, I’m writing this article in Munich Airport. I’m waiting for my plane to Helsinki, where I have found a software developer job. I’m looking forward to this third living experience in Finland, and I’m already dreaming of snow, owls and nordic lights. However, that’s not my main topic today, because I still have tales of heat and sun to share (by the way, the weather forecast in Helsinki, for the coming week, says cloudy, 3ºC… brrrr!).

Before we start, though, I suggest you put this song, taken from the Pirates of the Caribbean OST, on:

One afternoon, I went with my mom to Lumbin, in the Grésivaudan valley. Some shopping was on the table (gloves and waterproof clothes, you know), but we also decided to go to Saint-Hilaire du Touvet via the funicular. This cable car system was opened in 1924, mainly to serve the sanitariums built on the Plateau des Petites Roches to house tuberculosis patients. I don’t remember when I was there for the last time, but it was ages ago, it seemed.


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After the visit to the museum, I felt the urge to walk in the wilderness. I had in store an early wake-up call, so early I was the first one active in the house and still the only one awake when I left. My destination was the Petite Camargue Alsacienne, a wetland area I introduced you last winter. Located on the side of the Rhine, it is fed by the river’s water but also by some subterranean resurgences. I was there at sunrise, but there was no sun in the sky, only large and threatening clouds that soon brought light rain. I was adequately equipped, and it didn’t spoil my fun.

Great egret (Casmerodius albus)

Great egret (Ardea alba)

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Unterlinden Museum

I spent the last week-end in Alsace, visiting family with my parents. All my close relatives live there, so we usually spend time with them, seldom going out to visit this beautiful region. This time was different though, as we went to the Unterlinden Museum, in Colmar. It was the first time my cousin and I visited this place, but although my parents, uncle and aunt had been there when they were kids, the recent renovation made it feel all new for them as well.

The highlight of the visit is the Retable d’Issenheim, a majestic painting from the 16th century, which contains several layers that unfold like a book. It’s a piece of religious art, made for sick people to pray. It was originally located in the Monastery of St Anthony (Couvent des Antonins), but was moved during the Revolution. Read more about it here.

Retable d'Issenheim, pic by grego1402 via Flickr

Retable d’Issenheim, pic by grego1402 via Flickr

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A morning in good company

It’s migration time again, and “migration in Grenoble” rhymes with “Col du Fau”, the pass at the end of the valley, to the south, where all migrating birds have to go in the autumn. On a sunny Sunday morning, I arrived there at 8, shortly after sunrise. The light, low and warm, was beautiful, and a constant flow of swallows, mainly Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica), was crossing the pass. Four or five European stonechats (Saxicola rubicola) and a Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) took a break along the fence, looking for insects then plunging to the ground to catch them. From time to time, a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) and a Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) joined them.
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My Denmark: one year in a flat country

A year ago, I arrived in Copenhagen as a student, and settled in Tingbjerg, somewhere half-way between the center of the city and the university, located in Lyngby. My passion for birds had reignited a couple of months before, when I had bought my telelens, and I knew I would want to see birds there. I didn’t really have any expectation, but I found that the local bird protection society, DOF (Dansk Ornitologisk Forening), had a website with many birding spots located and explained.

I discovered that one of those, Utterslev Mose, was located next to my new dorm. What a great way to start!

Mute swan (Cygnus olor)

Mute swan (Cygnus olor)

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Anatomy of a Finnish sunset

I had spent the whole day inside, working on my computer. I went out before sunset, took my bike and rode along the shore to a place north of Hietaniemi. I tried some shoots, see how long of an exposure I could use, but it was cloudy, and I expected the evening to be very boring. I walked a bit to the south, to the marina I had noticed the day before. Suddenly, the clouds were lit from beneath, they seemed incandescent. I stopped, tried to make some pictures but the moment didn’t last.
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