Strange News from Another Star

There are so many photography (social networking) websites about these days that it’s confusing knowing which ones to use. In some respects, it may be a good idea to maximise your potential and submit to all of them but if you did, there would be no time to do anything else!

In the past few weeks I have started up a Trek Earth account, so far so good, added some images via Flickr to The Getty Images website (don’t have a link for this just yet) and started an Instagram page which I think is linked to only from Facebook or a mobile app. This is all in addition to my Pinterest, Panoramio and Flickr sites and to be honest, if any more of them pop up and demand my attention, I’d be inclined not to bother – yes they’re all very nice  and fun to have but essential??? Hmmm… a subject for much debate methinks. Almost every week someone tells me that I must start an account with X or Y, time will tell which proves to be the more useful I guess!

What does everyone else think of them? I kind of like the concept of the Trek Earth but to be honest, the same thing looks to be covered by other photography websites, albeit in a different way. I remember when I started my Flickr account, my idea was to submit only my best images but then in the end, I sent the good, the bad and the ugly anyway. So now I have started my Trek Earth account with the same idea, in fact the same idea I had when setting up my Panoramio account, et al – does everyone else do the same thing?

Let’s stop all this serious discussion now and look at a nice photo of agaves and the moon – apparently in Mexico the agave is known as a plant of the moon because of the shape of the leaves and the chumbo (prickly pear) a plant of the sun for the same reason. Oops, forgot to say about my inclusion on the Parque Natural website – check this 🙂

Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata

Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata

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Before and After

The church in these photos was (according to local press a while ago) used for satanic rituals. A local person “in-the-know” told me that all the activities that inspired the stories was in fact to prompt the local authorities to expedite the renovation project, which actually DID follow shortly after. I don’t really know the true story and to be honest, it’s neither here-nor-there, personally I think the renovation makes it look too squeeky clean but it is a much loved symbol of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata.

Here are the photographs, firstly before the renovation.

Iglesia de San Miguel (22 March 2011)

Iglesia de San Miguel (22 March 2011)

…and after the renovation although some works are still in progress but it’s pretty much done!

Iglesia de San Miguel (25 May 2012)

Iglesia de San Miguel (25 May 2012)

So, wha d’ya reckon?

On Top of the World!

There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of being on top of the world and no place better to realise this feeling than at a high altitude, such as the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas in the province of Jaén.

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Amber & I took a few days out to visit (and photograph) this area of stunning beauty staying in the town of Cazorla. Cazorla is constructed around three main squares, the Plaza de la Constitución, the Plaza de la Corredera and the Plaza Santa Maria, where we stayed. Plaza Santa Maria is the oldest and is connected to the other two by narrow, twisting streets so if you’re driving, beware!!!!!!!

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Established in 1986, the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is located to the east / north-east of the province of Jaén. It is the largest protected area in Spain and was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1983. Two of the Iberian peninsula’s most important rivers, the Río Guadalquivir and the Segura, have their sources here, amongst some of the wildest landscape in Spain.

Although one of the park’s major attractions is its abundant and varied wildlife, human intervention has meant that some of the animals that roamed this region have disappeared. Bears were the first to become extinct in the 17th century, followed much later by wolves in the 1920s. Game species like deer and wild boar actually died out here during the 1950s, prompting the creation of a national hunting reserve in 1960, with the re-introduction of these species together with the mouflon, a wild sheep with striking overlarge horns. On the highest rocky slopes are Spanish ibex.

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

There are many species of raptor that can be seen frequently, soaring on thermals high above the mountain peaks. These include griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, short-toed eagles, booted eagles, Bonelli’s eagles, golden eagles, red kites, kestrels, goshawks, sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons. There are rare sightings of the lammergeier also called quebrantahuesos in Spanish, or bone breaker, due to its habit of dropping its prey down to rocks from a great height to break their bones.

The park has an important population of birds commonly found in the pine forests, such as coal tits, great tits, crested tits, firecrests, azure-winged magpies, white wagtails and green woodpeckers. Above the treeline and on rocky slopes are rock thrushes, blue rock thrushes, red-billed choughs and alpine accentors.

In 1988 the park was designated a Special Protection Area for migratory birds.

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Among the predatory mammals inhabiting the woodland areas are the fox, genet, stone marten, wild cat, badger, polecat and weasel. A subspecies of the common squirrel is endemic to the Sierra de Segura. A third of the mammal species found in the park are bats. Reptiles include nine species of snakes, as well the Valverde lizard, which is endemic to the park and of course the Ocellated lizard.

Summing up, the landscape in Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is stunning and in common with other areas of Spain, unique. There is certainly no shortage of beautiful locations and places to see.

I’ve put together a slide-show of the best of my 650 ish photographs taken, I hope you enjoy them 🙂

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The Ocellated Lizard

The Ocellated Lizard is one of the largest members of its family. The adult is 30 – 60 centimetres long (1 – 2 feet) and may reach up to 90 centimetres (3 feet), its tail makes up about two thirds of its length.

This reptile is found in various habitats from sea level up to 2,100 metres in southern Spain. It prefers dry bushy areas such as open woodland and scrub, old olive groves and vineyards. The lizard usually stays on the ground but climbs well on rocks and in trees.

This is a robust lizard with a serrated collar. The male has a characteristic broad head. It has thick strong legs, with long curved claws. The dorsal background colour is usually green but sometimes grey or brownish especially on head and tail. This is overlaid with black stippling that may form a bold pattern of interconnected rosettes. The underside is yellowish or greenish. The male is brighter in colour than the female and has blue spots on its flanks; there are fewer or none in the female.

The Ocellated Lizard feeds mainly on large insects, especially beetles, and also robs birds’ nests and occasionally takes reptiles, frogs, and small mammals. It also eats fruit and other plant matter, especially in dry areas.

Ocellated Lizard

Ocellated Lizard

15 May – ADAY.ORG

So, I have taken part and uploaded the following two photographs to the aday.org project.

Category: Work - Tools

Category: Work – Tools

15 May in Spain is dia de (day of) San Isidro, the patron saint of farm workers. My friend Timbé works with agave (pita) plants and this is him extracting the agave nectar which is high in all sorts of nutrients.

Photo taken at 20:00 near Los Molinos del Río Aguas

Category: Connections - Leisure

Category: Connections – Leisure

My friend Timbé hosts a jam session every Tuesday at his Andalucian farm house near Sorbas in Spain. This is my friend Pieter playing his djembe drum – in many traditions, the drum is the instrument that connects the musicians and dancers, the drum is much more than a device to simply keeping the beat.

Photo taken at 20:45 near Los Molinos del Río Aguas

This photograph was also taken the same day but not submitted. This is a much “trimmed back” agave (pita) plant. Apparently one of Timbé’s neighbours is a bit handy with the secateurs and took it upon himself to cut back some of the many agave plants. I thought it was an interesting pattern.

Agave  - not submitted

Agave – not submitted

The Decorators Have Been

…well I dunno, I kind of got bored with the style of my blog and all so I re-decorated – wha d’ya reckon?

Anyway so just for fun, here’s a photograph of a cat, no erm… * searches for random image * a “Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)“, from a trip to see a friend in Holland a few years ago 🙂

Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric