As the crow flies, it would have been straight north from Christchurch. However, Maui’s canoe wasn’t flat, and the Southern Alps run from one end of the South Island to the other. After I left the cultivated plains, I was taken left and right, east and west, up the passes and down the valleys, sometimes accross the forest, sometimes accross meadows, in the shadows of high peaks dusted by snow. It was the end of summer.
You saw that one coming, didn’t you? In November, I presented you the Kaka (Nestor meridionalis), a smart parrot that I had encountered in Zealandia. I called the article “Kakacophony”, and told you I already knew the title of the article I would devote to its close relative, the Kea (Nestor notabilis). It took me a bit of traveling to put together a nice portfolio, but here we are: behold the Kea, a species endemic to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and the only alpine parrot in the world.
After coming back from India, I spent a few days around Christchurch, then aimed for the mountains. I didn’t know anything about Arthur’s Pass, except that it linked East and West Coast of the South Island, that a passenger train line ran through it between Christchurch and Greymouth… and that a few attractive birds lingered around 😉
The road ascended gradually. I stopped at Castle Hill, a remarkable limestone formation carved by erosion, and found joy in following winding tracks among these giants of stone.
Today, we’re continuing down Memory Lane with a gallery of pictures I took when I was at home, in December last year.
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.
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.
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.
I spent some time in France during the last holidays, including a few days in Morzine. That’s a ski resort located in Savoy, not far south of Lake Léman, with a large ski domain including slopes in Switzerland. Alas, the weather in western Europe was depressingly warm for this time of year, and only a few slopes were open, with a rather bad quality of snow. Not that I am really interested in this kind of things, but there was almost no cross-country skiing track open either there or around Grenoble, so I did not bother myself with ski clothes and took hiking shoes instead!
Before diving into 2016, and while a few pictures from past holidays await treatment on my hard drive, I want to head back to the month of August. I was back from my road-trip in Scandinavia, and a few days away from leaving to Copenhagen. My father and I drove to Villard-de-Lans, in the mountain range of Vercors. From there, we walked up to a pass called Pas de l’Œille. We barely saw the sun, but sometimes clouds create such dramatic sceneries that we can’t really miss the astral disc.