Sud France

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The scenery is spectacular along the south coast of France as I head from Barcelona to Montpellier. Water stretches both side of the train and occasionally it seems like we are traveling in some sort of high speed boat. Masses of flamingos, herons, egrets and birds of prey can be seen along the marshy strips of land. A nature paradise, perfect for wading birds and ducks.

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Flamingos group together on an inshore lake as the sun sets behind them.

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Two flamingos wade in shallow water with their heads down.

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What appears to be a siege of herons heading south, maybe for the winter. Below more flamingos on the waters edge.

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Return to the Outback

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Rattling along at 300kph through the outback on my return leg.

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I have taken loads of interesting photos along the way but unfortunately I forgot to take my camera cable for transferring the images. So here are a couple of mobile phone shots until I download the other images. Even at 300kph it is possible to capture quite good images of the Spanish outback because the landscape is huge, so only passing trees tend to blur which give them a nice sense of speed too …

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… a perfect sunset as we near the Camargue and southern France.

Outback

Barcelona – Malaga

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Sweltering hot sunshine outside Barcelona station but a landscape of water does much to help temper the heat. I have yet to discover what those bizarre towers are dotted around this concrete and water landscape. They look like lighthouses but are too far from the sea for that.

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An almost empty restaurant car and very relaxed journey headed for Barcelona.

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Traveling in style at high speed through the heart of Spain’s outback. Scenery that never fails to impress me despite much of it being desert-like and barren. The restaurant car is always a great place to record the passing scenes and have a cup of coffee of course.

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Olive trees can be seen littering the hard baked sandy earth inland …

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… and sometimes there is little sign of vegetation.

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Eco warriors

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We all know who the biggest capitalist is and his disliking for environmental issues.

Here is just one reason why eco warriors are right:

The wildlife charity Plantlife recommends reducing how often roadside grassland is cut.

Brilliant!

Why? Because it saves money, reduces pollution and helps the environment by allowing wildflowers to grow, insects to flourish, particularly bees, which are needed for pollination and honey. Of course Mr. Big C would probably rather the scientists invented artificial honey, then he could concrete over everything, build skyscrapers everywhere and maybe a few golf courses for his green concience.

According to the Guardian this morning (see article) 97% of wildflower meadows have been destroyed in Britain in less than a century. Thankfully now roadside grassland has become a haven for wildlife and wildflowers.

I have long called for less trimming in towns, maybe now things are finally registering and governments and councils are beginning to listen and realize that being environmentally friendly makes financial sense as well as helping the environment.

My particular bugbear with this subject concerns Germany and Spain, the two countries I am most familiar with, where I see wonderful nature areas yearly cut down for no good reason other than to keep a few unemployed youngsters in work. – (Council workers simply lack the imagination to think of anything more creative) – Spain (Andalusia) is particular is guilty of this which is bizarre as being a hot country cutting the grass back to its roots just adds to a parched earth environment and more likelihood of fires.

Guardian article

Egrets

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… a change of scene.

This is an old composite image of egrets I photographed mainly in Spain some years ago. I felt a short break was needed from nature walks, Boris and 3D modeling. What with Boris getting his just deserts, Rhino 3D software update costing me 1000 euros and with the summer being all but over, time to reflect on where I am going, what I am doing and what in the world is going on.

Sunday walk III

Yesterday felt like the hottest day so far this summer, even if it failed to break any records. Today as I venture out on my Sunday walk it is cooler but still very warm. However it looks like from now on it’s downhill all the way as far as temperatures go.

I wade through ferns on a zigzag path that eventually meets a dirt track halfway down the hill and plonk myself on my favourite bench to soak up the sun. It is pretty quiet and I have yet to photograph anything interesting. While meditating I listen to the sounds of the forest. Bird calls, twigs crack and leaves rustle as a cool breeze filters through the trees.

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I open my eyes and spot what at first I think is a buzzard but it turns out to be some sort of hawk. I manage one poor shot but the silhouette is enough to identify it as a bird of prey, but what, I have no idea. I shall leave that to the ornithologists.

Soon after this, walking along the dirt track, a buzzard shoots out of the undergrowth in front of me and crosses the track in a slow low glide before disappearing into the forest below. No chance of a photo but always impressive when you see them close up instead of just a silhouette up in the sky.

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I notice the ‘prehistoric’ plants from last week have all been mowed down along with what was left of the wildflowers. It seems rather pointless cutting forest grass especially as it had only been done on one side of the track. Last year there had been a large bush of thistles that had attracted a variety of butterflies but when I arrived there this year to take photos it was gone. It seems to me that foresters have little interest in nature. I see this all the time. Mowed grass that could easily be left wild but there is a western obsession with mowing lawns. ‘Must keep things tidy, what will people think!’ The trouble with that is all the wildflowers are destroyed too, essential for butterflies and bees. I used to write to councils about these sort of things but they invariably ignored me. Give young unemployed guys a noisy polluting strimmer or leaf blower and it will keep them happy and off the streets. That is the mindset of councilors.

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I came across this curious thing in the forest, which was a web with what looked like a burrowing hole for a small animal. No idea what it is. The hole was a bit bigger than finger size and had not been touched as the web had been constructed around the hole as far as I could tell. Any suggestions welcome ?

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A jay hides in long grass searching and listening for bugs, eventually taking flight back into the forest.

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Finally a photo of my favourite tree, which I have often photographed and probably already posted here before.

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Hello Boris!

How to make Britain Great again?

A few thoughts …

Scrap HS2 unless you can fix the present railway system. Presently train services are the worst and most expensive in Europe. They should be cheaper and more efficient.

High speed Internet, yes! Long overdue and free hotspots in some critical locations like railway stations would be welcomed.

Improved bus services. Experiment with free Hop ‘n’ Ride in a few towns.

Scrap grammar schools and introduce comprehensives nationwide. Bring back polytechnics and colleges of further education. Turning all colleges into universities was the dumbest thing ever.

Introduce national service for all 18-20 year olds for one year. (Social work or military optional) Maybe even a one year culture/arts course option. Encourage more voluntary work.

More cycle paths for bicycles, e-scooters, Segways and the like and pedestrianize more town centers.

Don’t accept US chlorinated chicken. The USA needs to get its act together. Britain should stand up to America and not act like a pathetic lapdog, otherwise under Trump Britain will be used and abused.

Stop sending recycled waste to far off countries in container vessels that pollute the environment more than any other form of transport.

Maintain EU standards or even better improve on them.

Maintain Green Belts. Stop building on them, they were green belts for a reason.

Stop strimming wildflowers! In fact, stop strimming. Plant more trees. Britain was once covered in forests. Now they are virtually all gone and the few remaining hardly worthy of the name.

Scrap the honors list. Jimmy Saville need I say more. It is over FFS!

Build cheaper innovative eco housing and less of the mock Tudor Barratt rabbit hutches.

Wave energy, vertical wind energy and solar energy … where are you?

More police on the beat. It is less polluting and healthier for all. Police need to be seen and heard. Walking the streets should be safe for all, regardless of the time of day.

Four day working week. Max allowed 40 hours. No overtime.

Charge a nominal quarterly fee to visit a doctor to make people think twice before using the NHS. Stop giving free treatment to foreigners. Britons don’t get free treatment abroad!

More youth centers especially in deprived areas. Skateboard parks and better play areas for children. Maybe take a look at Germany next time you visit.

Legalize medicinal cannabis. Stop state sponsored gambling. Stop snorting cocaine.

Allow all Britons even those living abroad a lifelong right to vote, this has long been a right for Americans in the USA. Funny how Britain always seem to adopt the worst of American culture but fails to adopt American rights and freedoms. Somethings wrong there folks. I am not a object, I am a citizen. Better start now before there is a revolution.

Give all EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit the right to stay and vote with the minimum of fuss and no payments thank you. Bureaucrats and civil servants earn enough already, they make our lives difficult while enjoying well paid jobs for life. Time to start weeding out the chaff. Stop screwing your interns.

Much more I could add but I think this will do for the moment.

Actually much of this could also be applied to many EU countries too.

NB. I have not visited the UK in recent years, so some things mentioned here may have improved but from my experience of visiting on and off over the past 40 years and having been born and educated there I doubt that much has changed in recent years.

Note to: GCHQ

Please pass this on to the appropriate authorities. Thanks!

Sunday walk II

Another hot day in the upper twenties as I head out to repeat my Sunday walk from last week. There is dew on the ground and I notice there are already plenty of mushrooms, so it looks like being a good year for them. Odd leaves fall from some trees that are changing colour, a sure sign we are on the cusp of autumn. There are no butterflies today probably because most wildflowers are past their sell by date.

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My first encounter is a strange croaking sound from a bird I have often heard but never seen. This time however a pair fly directly overhead and I manage one poor photo, (VC on my camera was switched off, which probably did not help). However the silhouette is enough to intrigue me. Could this be the elusive Capercaillie, famous in this region but very rarely seen and on the endangered list, I think. I could hear their wing beats as they flew by, despite being high up, which indicates to me a large bird that’s too big to be a crow. They were certainly not birds of prey, so I am not sure what else they could be.

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Dew on a bracket mushroom of which there were quite a variety to be found today.

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(below) A bench with a view over the valley that I often use for a short pause.

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… and some of the few remaining wildflowers to be found along the roadside.

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Finally this mysterious plant that looks almost prehistoric and one I have only recently noticed.

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