|View from Berthemont Les Bains.|
|Meadow in Berthemont les Bains.|
|Mystery flower 1!|
|Mystery flower 2!|
|Good ol' Quaking Grass (Briza media), one of my favourites :o)|
The surrounding area was teeming with bird life too - Cuckoos were calling all day and Tawny Owls all night in the valley, and among others I saw Spotted Flycatchers, Serins and Crag Martins in the village. I also saw a pair of Peregrines circling high up around a crag, and we saw a distant pair of eagles near the same crag but their identification remains a bit of a mystery - they looked to have pale underwings but with darker coverts, and weren't light enough underneath to be Short-Toed, nor dark enough for Golden, and I think we were a bit outside the usual range of Bonelli's Eagle. Hmmm! If only my raptor ID skills were better :oD
Our first trip was to the Alpha Parc des Loups (wolf park) in Le Boréon. Here there are three captive semi-wild wolf packs of varying sizes, which are kept in large enclosures in the forest. Wolves have in the past couple of decades recolonised the French Alps from Italy and the park concentrates on the ecology of the wolf and the conflict that has arisen as a result of their return to France.
|Alpha Parc des Loups.|
There were three different 'scénovision' presentations that combined audio, video and various props and scenes to tell the story of wolves in the Alps from three different viewpoints. They were an old shepherd who was pretty peeved about the wolves returning, as they predate his sheep and his only defence is his dogs; his son who has become a wolf ecologist working in Italy (the two of them don't get on); and the son's teenage daughter who has followed in her grandad's footsteps but at the same time, sees that the wolves play an important ecological role and hopes that humans can work out ways to coexist with them. I kind of assumed that they were fictional characters, invented to perfectly encapsulate all the opportunities and problems brought by wolves, but it turned out they are actually a real family! This brought extra depth to the stories for me; unsurprisingly I found the wolf ecologist's viewpoint most interesting. We particularly enjoyed the dramatic nighttime footage of several vigilant and tireless sheepdogs defending their flock of sheep against attack by a wolf pack!
|Textbook gniess! Mmm look at those layers of segregated mafic and felsic minerals, like a lovely cake!|
|Canadian wolves feeding time.|
|Milling around pre-feed.|
|A cheeky Raven getting in on the action!|
|Some of the younger wolves inspected the food, but decided not to take any, presumably as they might risk punishment from older, more dominant wolves if they did.|
|Bit of argy-bargy over food.|