Who are you?

During a walk in the forest near to my home village  L´Ametlla del Vallès  ( this forest is mainly composed of mediterranean oak and rather humid) I found this strange plant.

I am actually not even sure if the white filaments are flowers or seeds, in the center of the whole thing it is possible to see a type of reddish flowery-thing too. I tried to identify this plant by all means without success, even asking for help two specialists (but got no anwer)..

The only details I am able to mention is that the rest of the plant appeared to be completely dry and of the climbing type.

So, if any of the kind visitors knows anything about this botanic enigma, maybe at least the family it belongs to, I would deeply appreciate any information!

Thanks to a good Facebook-friend we know now that those extravagant filaments are the seeds of a plant of the Clematis family.

 

Hairy wildplant with white filaments
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Costa Brava: Calella and Llafranc

The Costa Brava in northeastern Catalonia is very well known to tourists around the world and of course also to the locals, having been their preferred holiday destination during many years, specially in the past when it was not common for catalans to travel abroad to exotic countries.

The uncontrolled tourism and consequent “wild” construction of hotels and apartments has harmed and destroyed much of the beautiful nature and little fishermen´s villages of the Costa Brava. Fortunately there are some exceptions like the two places I am presenting in this post: Calella de Palafrugell and (in a lesser degree) Llafranc, they are not the only one´s, Tossa and Cadaques should be added to this list in a near future.

A very recommendable itinerary is the Cami de Ronda, a comfortable path which allows you to border the wild cliffs and impressive scenery of the Costa Brava walking from one village to the other, most of the pictures here were made during such a walk.

Llafranc fishermen village Costa Brava

Llafranc, view from the Cami de Ronda


© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com 

Llafranc fishermen village Costa Brava

The bay of Llafranc


© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Calella de Palafrugell fisher village Costa Brava

Calella de Palafrugell


© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Calella de Palafrugell fisher village Costa Brava

Calella de Palafrugell


© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Calella de Palafrugell fisher village Costa Brava

The Cami de Ronda


© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Something is happening

In spite of the general tendency for a changing (warming up, that is) climate, this winter here in Catalonia was rather cold with several days below freezing point and generous snowfalls on a few occasions.

For that reason it seemed that most fruit trees in our garden were not specially in a hurry to make their buds grow but rather preferred to “wait and see”.

Just a few days ago I took my camera and macro lens and went out to see what I would find in the world of the little, unseen and overseen “things.”

First fact I realized was that the trees were no longer waiting for better times: the Willow Trees at the Congost River near the city of Granollers were blooming with beautiful catkins and I made sure to try my best to get some decent shots of them so as to get at least one “keeper” to upload to my agency Dreamstime.

Willow Tree catkin sprout springtime
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

On another day I visited one of my most liked areas: the Vallcarquera Creek at the village of El Figaro, some kilometers from my home village L´Ametlla del Vallès. This natural area at the feet of the nature park of the Montseny Massif, has a high ecologic value harbouring interesting and unique botanic and zoologic treasures as for example the Aesculapian Snake which I managed to photograph some time ago.

Aesculapian snake on branch
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Walking on the nature trail I concentrated on various fungi of different shapes, colors and species. I didn´t do very well in my photos actually and finally only kept the image you can see here in this post. I have no idea about the species but was atracted by it´s tiny size and bright orange color. The recent rains and rising temperatures had allowed this creature to grow and thrive in a season which is normally not favourable to it.

Orange Mushroom on log macro
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Understanding

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Ayya Khema

There is a wellknown simile about a monkey trap like those they use in Asia:

A wooden container with a small hole. Inside there is a sweet. The monkey, attracted by the sweet, puts it´s hand through the hole and takes it. As soon as he wants to remove his hand he can´t pass it through the narrow hole without letting go the candy. He gets trapped till the hunter comes and catches him.

He doesn´t realize that he just has to let go the candy to be free.

 

That´s the way we live.

We are trapped because we want all things to be sweet like a candy. As we are not able to let it go we get trapped in the newer-ending cicle of happiness and unhappiness, of hope and hopelesness.”

 

AYYA KHEMA

The interior island 

(translated from spanish by Joan Egert)

Vox Populi, Omnia Lex

“Vox Populi, omnia Lex” which is actually about what is legitimate and what is legal.. and I am thinking about the increasing conflict between the spanish government and the catalan movement for independence.

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Seal of the Generalitat de Catalunya (the catalan state)

 

The lawmakers of the spanish TC (Tribunal Constitucional) are supposed to have studied this two concepts at their very beginning of their university studies. Yet today they insisted that the only law is the constitutional law overseeing the legitimate.

estelada_blava-svg

“L´Estelada”, the catalan independentist flag

Threatening speech from the spanish governments side is increasing as well as their determination to not allow a referendum which the catalan government has repeatedly promised to be held the latest on september 2017.

Taking the former catalan president Artur Mas and two ex-ministers to court as well as the president and four secretaries of the catalan parlament has not intimidated us so far.

Ecotourism – Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Today I visited the web page of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, you can see the link below.

I clicked on a link named “Protection of Amphibians and Reptiles” and no wonder the first aim is to protect the habitats. Apart of pollution, the pet market and some hunting the major reason for the decline and even worse the vanishing of many amphibian and reptile species is the destruction of suitable habitats allowing this groups to breed and thrive.

The worrying decline of many amphibian species is been investigated and as for them it could be suspected that pollution could also play be a major roll.

Image below: tourists visiting the Everglades and learning about the American Alligators.

Ecotourism is tourism which is planned and carried out in a manner which protects natural and human resources, promotes conservation by producing economic benefits, protects habitat, and generally …

Source: Ecotourism – Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

As it has always been stressed, to involve people in the protection of something you first have to make sure that they know it, as simple as that!

Ecotourism is a way of allowing the broader public to be aware of the biodiversity of the planet and even more crucial of their own backyards. To realize how precious and interesting herps are we will need to offer enthusiastic but rigurous information.

Specially in the case of snakes it is important to remove the fear and disgust many of us experience when we are confronted with one of them and which is always based on ignorance, superstition and traditional beliefs which have been delivered to us since childhood. Here, understanding and caring communication and information is necessary.

Ecotourism helps people to appreciate the richness of nature and therefore to be ready to protect it even if that means to accept a little sacrifice but at the same time it allows to get funds which can be reinvested in conservation.

It is crucial to involve the local population: specially in the less developed countries it is very difficult to convince the inhabitants not to kill a snake on the first encounter, in Kenya for example it is widely believed that all snakes are poisonous and therefore have to be killed immediately without exceptions.

Head of South-eastern Green Snake (Philothamnus hoplogaster) Kenya East Africa

In Kenya, all green snakes are believed to be Green Mambas, here a harmless Green Water Snake.

© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

However I experienced myself how in a little community of coastal Kenya (Malindi/Gede) the villagers called us to inform about a snake which had been found hiding near to a hut, I have to stress that it would have been very easy and not dangerous for them at all to kill the snake (which resulted to be a harmless House SnakeBoaedon) but they did otherwise as they hoped that other photographers (crazy and ridiculous guys!) might visit their place looking for reptiles.

Fazit: If you want support for your efforts of reptile and amphibian conservation you have to offer something in exchange.
Brown House Snake on log

House Snake (Boaedon fuliginosus)
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

We  explained to our friends that the snake which we safely removed and took further away was not poisonous at all and even useful to the community as a pest control, we also made sure to help them to be able to identificate this snake species as harmless for future encounters.

Simply Moss?

Mosses are much more than those spongy, soft, green and humid grass-like plants we find mostly in shady, wet habitats. If we look at their reproductive strategy we will be confronted with interesting and strange characteristics which are totally different from those we know from the “normal” plants.

To begin with, Mosses don´t have flowers nor seeds and their leaves are only one-cell thick! 

As they don´t have flowers and seeds they use spores for their reproduction.

Moss sprouts gametophytes and sporophytes
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Their conductive tissues are rather poorly developed, different from vascular plants (the more common  ones). Instead they absorb the water through the leaves. Mosses don´t use seeds for their reprocuction, after fertilisation they develop sporophytes with unbranched stalks topped with single capsules containing spores.

They neither have roots but Rhizoids which they don´t use to absorb water though. Their biology is too complex to be explained shortly but for those interested there is quite some more to learn at Wikipedia.

In the image above we can see both Sporophytes and  Gametophytes growing on a patch of moos.