landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 158: “Along back country roads”

This week we have another guest host for The Lens-Artists Photo challenge: Beth. She reminds us, to not only discover the cities or national parks, where everyone goes to. Instead, discover the beauty of the backcountry or hinterland. Btw. hinterland is a borrowed word from German and means, you guess it, hinterland or as the Aussies would say outback.

 

 

For finding such images in your archive, Excire Foto is a big help. When using EXCIREFIRE20 at checkout you can save 20%.

Take care!

culture, nature, review, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: The flooding in July 2021 in Western Germany

Currently, Europe is parted into two. A line is drawn from north to south from Finland to Italy. While the regions east of the line are ruled by heat, the western half is suffering from cold.

Hot air can carry more moisture than cold air. So, the moisture comes down as rain in the area where both air masses are meeting. In addition, the high-pressure area and the low-pressure area are very stable and don’t move. Instead, the rain comes down over and over again for days in nearly the same place: in western North-Rhine Westphalia and north-west Rhineland-Palatinate, two German states near the borders to Belgium and the southern Netherlands.

After a nice start into summer end of May, the weather changed by early June. It became colder and the rain began to fall. End of June, the first extreme rain appeared here in the region. A friend of mine reported an overflooded underground car park in his newly built apartment building. Fortunately, they were able to save all cars ahead of the flooding.

Because of the constant and sometimes havier rainfalls, the lakes, rivers, and creeks were already full and the ground was already saturated with water.

Tuesday last week, the weather forecast announced another heavy rain field. For about 120-150 km long and 30-50 km wide. You can see the size in the left map below. Btw. I’m located right in the middle of the pink area. Find Düsseldorf, our state capitol, and take the letter ‘o’. Now, move up and see the horseshoe-like bend of the river Ruhr. I’m near the right side inside the area. The color indicates the amount of rain in mm per 24 hours. Up to 200 liters of water were have been falling per square meter, but no-one said to the people move their valuable belongings to higher places or even leave the area completely. The situation was recognized early enough to warn. Warnings were even sent out, but the people didn’t understand the warnings.

You can find these maps, created by Deutscher Wetter Dienst (DWD), in their official Twitter account. DWD is the official German Meteorological Service.

The next images are not mine. I got them via Facebook. It’s a city quarter of a neighboring town. This place is only about 15 km east of us as the bird flies after only a few hours of rain. The stones are the result of a landslide. It looks bad, but other areas west of us were hit even harder. You can find an article on Wikipedia with a couple of images and containing also descriptions from other affected regions.

The area west of Bonn was hit the hardest. A few smaller towns and city quarters are literally wiped away. Either, because rivers re-conquered stolen land (people built houses in riparian areas or water meadows) or by landslides when the soaked soil slipped down the hillsides. In the town of Erftstadt, we had to watch another phenomenon: in the flat area, the river Erft left the bed and flooded the fields used by farmers to grow food. Unfortunately, the ground wasn’t stable. So, the soil was washed away and left a huge and rising crate, several meters deep. This crate swallowed even complete houses while widening. The only image I found online showing this, is the header photo in this article:

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/ungluecke/hochwasser-in-erftstadt-dramatische-lage-und-tote-nach-hauseinstuerzen-17440280.html

Among very few hours, creeks with usually one 30cm of water were able to grow up to several meters of water. One river with usually 60cm was reported to grow up 8 meters!!!! Despite this vast amount of water, about 24 hours later nearly all of the water was gone. Only the devastation remained. Many, many people lost everything, including their houses. About 172 are reported up to now even lost their lives here in Germany and 31 in Belgium. While 155 people in Germany are still missed. Yesterday evening the last alarms were deactivated. All the danger points are secured. Fortunately, there was no additional rain. But, many parts in the affected area still don’t have electric power, telephone, water supply, and cellular mobile telephony. Reconstruction works will last months and I guess, some people, having lost everything, will move away.

The railway company announced 600km of railways were destroyed (7 tracks) and 80 stations. No-one knows up to now how many streets and motorways are damaged or completely destroys. Not counting the pipes for water and natural gas, the wires for telephony, internet, and electric power, or the animals (wild and farm animals).

The most affected area also includes an important wine-producing area and vacation spots.

The town, where I live, wasn’t affected. First, we don’t have a river or a lake (not in town nor uphill). Second, The hills are covered with houses. So, the soil couldn’t slip away. Third, some years ago, our city government enlarged the canalization system. Luckily, it was big enough to cope with all the additional water.

I didn’t write anything about Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and France. I’m not ignoring them. The reason is, our news didn’t broadcast much about their suffering from the flooding. So, I simply don’t know enough to write about. I only know, the Belgium area bordering the hardest hit German area was also hit very hard. I suspect the people are facing the same problems as they do here.

This last weekend. Germany was hit again: in Bavaria and Saxonia further floodings happened with similar effects as I already described.

I’m so glad for not being affected and feel very sorry for all the affected people wherever they lived. Although this isn’t the first flooding in Germany, it’s IMHO the biggest and the first (?) one in our state. I assume it won’t be the last one.

I just got the forecast for the next thunderstorm to be arriving this weekend, which is expected to hit the already pained region again. 😭

Take care!

photography, world, landscape, travel, photo-of-the-day, nature, spring

Travel Tuesday: even sheep build roads

You can see horizontal lines at the side of the central hill in the image. These are sheep roads. Sheep like it easy and they find the easiest way to climb a hill. Over time, these small roads appear, where sheep regularly roam.

When hiking in an area where sheep roam freely, like in Iceland or Scotland, and you want to go up- or downhill, look out for these sheep roads and follow them. Sheep have found the easiest way to walk uphill or downhill because they are kind of lazy. So, they try to avoid unnecessary efforts. In this image, all the roads are in horizontal directions, but you can also find them leading up and down.

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 157: “Getting away”

Another guest host for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This week’s subject is nominated by Rusha Sams. “Getting away” is a harder one and I really needed the time ahead to get an idea of what to post.

First I had to understand and find my own way of interpreting the topic. You can try to escape from a danger, but you can also refer to a transportation vehicle. Finally, I stayed with ‘travel’.

There are many options to get away: by foot, by train, by bike, by ship, by car, by plane, or by a couple of further possibilities. When I read this week’s topic first, I had a hard time finding suitable images. Excire helped me very much. Typing in the keyword ‘travel’ gave me nearly 400 matches to choose from.

Enjoy the images. Remember you can enlarge them by clicking on one of them as usual.

 

For finding such images in your archive, Excire Foto is a big help. When using EXCIREFIRE20 at checkout you can save 20%.

Take care!

animals, bird, insect, photography, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: purple heron

purple heron (Ardea purpurea) / Purpurreiher

This was really a challenge. According to Google maps and my EXIF data, the nest was about 74m away from my camera. I knew this would be a difficult job, but I expected it to be a bit easier.

A few couples of these very rare herons (at least in Germany – and they are listed in the red part of the IUCN list; meaning they are currently not endangered, but the numbers are decreasing) set up their nests at the edge of a small lake, right in the front row of the reed. The nests are visible from a hiking path and the plants have enough natural gaps of several meters each to easily set up your camera and have a quite good sight. So far, so good. I was also told, to bring a binocular.

After a hike of approximately 45 minutes, we reached the lake. Whan a scene: I saw the lake, the water, hundreds of nests of black-headed gulls in the water, and the ocean of reed as a background of the scene. Did you notice a hint of the purple herons? Me, neither! A friend of mine, a local and being our guide on this trip, pointed to the other side of the lake. Over there, they are! I didn’t notice one. There are a few nests, one beside another. I still was staring at the scene without seeing them. “Take your binocular.” Still no success. “OK, set up your camera and I’m pointing it to one of the nests”. Hey, there they were!!!!!

They are smaller than grey herons (only 70-90 cm long and with 107-143 cm wingspan instead of 90-98 cm length and 175-195 cm wingspan) and despite their intense coloring, they are melting into the surroundings. Not visible, when you not know, they were there and where they are standing or sitting. After I got the first nest in sight, it was quite easy to see the other, too. In my opinion, there were about 10 nests. The nests seem to be founded on some buckled reeds between 20 and 70 cm above the waterline. Surprisingly, some were still building the nests, while others already had quite big nestlings, as you can see in the image above.

The above image is already a crop in post-processing. It is taken with an 800mm lens attached to a camera with an APS-C sensor resulting in 1200mm as their 35mm equivalent. The camera was attached to my tripod by a gimbal. The other guy accompanying me also bought an APS-C camera, but only a 150-600mm lens. With that combo, he only got stamp-like herons. Fortunately, his camera matched my lens too, so I loaned it to him.

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, spring, travel, world

Travel Tuesday: even sheep build roads

You can see horizontal lines at the side of the central hill in the image. These are sheep roads. Sheep like it easy and they find the easiest way to climb a hill. Over time, these small roads appear, where sheep regularly roam.

When hiking in an area where sheep roam freely, like in Iceland or Scotland, and you want to go up- or downhill, look out for these sheep roads and follow them. Sheep have found the easiest way to walk uphill or downhill because they are kind of lazy. So, they try to avoid unnecessary efforts. In this image all the roads are in horizontal directions, but you can also find them leading up and down.

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 156: “black and white”

If I were asked, this could have been named by me. You know, I’m doing a lot of black-and-white photography. But, this time Anne Sandle is hosting the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

You know, I love black and white photography. Here, I put together a small collection. In case, you also love monochrome photography, feel free, to dig through my archive. You can find the relevant posts quite easily because all of them are tagged properly. Each Monday a new monochrome post is published and each Friday, I’m publishing on a blog dedicated completely to monochrome images. Right after the post is published over there, it is re-blogged here. Unfortunately, WordPress does not keep the tags. So, all of those posts are unfortunately untagged.

 

 

For finding such images in your archive, Excire Foto is a big help. When using EXCIREFIRE20 at checkout you can save 20%.

Take care!

animals, bird, photography, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: what happens to the puffins?

Since I visited Iceland for the first time, I’m following the Icelandic news. Fortunately, there are a couple of sources in English as I don’t understand Icelandic. I tried learning it (there was a starter class created by the Icelandic university), but I dropped out because it was too hard for me. I know a couple of pronunciation rules, but distinguishing the spoken words was nearly impossible for me. But, thankfully there are some trustworthy sources in English available.

Iceland has, besides Greenland, the biggest breeding colonies of puffins. These pretty guys only come to land for breeding. Over the years, the Icelandic government noticed an enormous decrease in puffins in the south (around Vik í Myrdal). When I was there last year again, I only saw a few single birds, instead of the huge number I’ve seen in 2014. In 2014, there were thousands of birds in the air and resting on the sea. At night the rocks were covered by them. In 2020, there were not many birds left. They depend on sand eels and the warmer the water becomes, the fewer sand eels are there. Other sea birds like gulls and Northern fulmars have more options. So, they are not affected. In addition, especially in the south and on the Westman Islands hunting for puffins is still allowed, but the hunters should register their prey.

In 2020 only 13% of the registered hunters registered their prey: 23,000 puffins were cought. It is not clear if the other 87% of the registered hunters waived their right to hunt puffins or if they simply ‘forgot’ to register. Nevertheless, in 2020 the Icelandic government noticed a big decrease in breeding couples in the two main colonies: Westman Islands + Eastfjords. Although the government set up artificial breeding caves to help the birds, 38% of these caves kept unoccupied. In a past blog post, I already explained the breeding habit of puffins.

“the puffin population has decreased by 45% over the last 17 years in Iceland. Low reproduction and food shortages have led to declining in puffin stock.” (source: grapevie.is)

Good news, this year the hunting season is at least shortened from 46 days to only 10.

 

This image shows another problem. In fall (mid-August) a newborn puffin starts to live his own life alone on the sea. At the age of 3, they came back and the males start digging a cave between the grass and the rock below. The cave becomes approximately 1 meter (3 feet) deep and gets 2 chambers at the end: a breeding room and a toilet. This lasts approximately 6 years (summers = End-of-May to mid-August). When a male has finished the cave, he can start finding a female.

When the Icelandic government sees a high frequented place bearing some dangers, they set up these iron poles and span a line approximately 20 cm above the ground. Here, we have 2 lines and the upper one is at approximately 50 cm. So, you can be pretty sure, it’s very dangerous coming closer to the edge. The edge is very often not solid and seabirds are breeding there. I saw this unfortunately quite often. Even some people were climbing down the rock for getting better photos with their smartphones!!!!! Unbelievable! In the east-fjords, they even set up a wooden fence of approximately 1,2m (4 feet) high, and some people climbed over it.

First: it’s dangerous

    • rock is not that solid as you might guess. Water, wind, frost weakens the stone
    • wind scratches out the solid between grass and rock
    • seabirds digging their long caves in this only 10-20 cm thick soil.

When putting some weight on this, you might break in, stumble and/or fall down the cliff (in the image above, the cliff is about 400m high (1,300 feet). You endanger the birds when breaking into their caves. Even when not killing the breeding parent or the nestling, a hole in the roof could be used by foxes or gulls to steal the nestling.

 

Take care!