12 Feb 2012

Frozen flamingos

It was only yesterday that I was reading on The Guardian UK’s website about the plight of the flamingos in this area – more than 200 have died down near Gruissan where there are many etangs (lagoons). 

Here’s an article and the video clip that went with it – showing the firemen to the rescue.

And then today, I went with friends Miki and Ivan for a drive to check out various parts of the region that are affected by the ‘big freeze’ and we found ourselves involved in a bit of flamingo rescue ourselves.

We’d stopped to take photos at the lovely little fishing village of Bages, right on the edge of the Etang, which was surprisingly mostly frozen. Surprising because it’s very salty.  

And it was in the low scrub at the edge that we saw this poor bird …..

We didn’t get too close to him, but he was definitely alive, just hardly moving. 

I mentioned to the others that I’d seen the news item the day before, and that it seemed that the pompiers were involved in the rescue. 

So a phone call was made, and all the details taken, and we were told that someone would be there to arrange a pick up.

But five minutes later, down the road a bit, we came across a van with the back open, full of flat-pack cardboard boxes, and one made-up box. I commented that they looked like the boxes they were rescuing flamingos with - in the video I'd seen, so we stopped. And sure enough they were members of LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux de l'Aude) – the local bird protection society. 

We showed them where the exhausted flamingo was, and he was promptly picked up, packed away into a box and taken away to recuperate. Lucky bird!

Here’s the movie I took – I had to mute the sound in the first half of the clip as the noise of the wind on the soundtrack was dreadful. 

And here’s some other photos of around Bages……

We spotted a flock of flamingos flying across the etang - so not all of them are in dire straits yet ....

A few more of different parts of the Canal du MidI....

Miki and Ivan - near Le Somail


And lastly some of Lac de Jouarres. The wind whipping across here was unbelievably cold and strong – evidenced by the build up of frozen ‘icebergs’ on the shore nearly a metre high. Felt like we were in the Arctic. 

And I know we’re so much better off here than most of the rest of Europe (we've still got those bright blue skies every day!) – but I’ll be so glad when things warm up a little. Above zero degrees would be nice. 

There’s a change coming at the end of the week and it can’t come soon enough. Though I’m a little worried at what I might find when the fish pond thaws. I can no longer see anything through the ice. Fingers crossed ….

9 Feb 2012

The frozen Canal du Midi

I was talking to someone today who said an old man in her village had only ever seen the Canal du Midi freeze over three times in his lifetime. It’s certainly frozen now.

At Le Somail. Someone's thrown a brick onto the ice (bottom rhs)
- to check the strength of it I guess!

7 Feb 2012

A freezing Arctic wind

While huge parts of Europe (including most of France) have been suffering record-breaking freezing  conditions, here in this region we’ve just had the bitterly cold wind but no snow. And it’s been howling for days now, with not much relief in sight. Though we have had wonderful clear blue skies, so there is that to be thankful for.

Here’s the four day forecast – those winds of 75 kph and gusts of 110 kph (and chill factor of -10) are freezing. 

And they're a little destructive. Well, they have been in my courtyard, anyway. Yesterday it blew down the dividing fence, taking my planter boxes with it. 

So I’ve rolled up part of the bamboo fencing, as it’s not going to stay upright for long in this wind. Perhaps now’s the time to consider putting in a more permanent structure - some posts cemented into the ground or something …..

This is the longest cold spell I’ve experienced since I’ve lived here. We’ve had snow before but it’s not lasted more than a couple of days. And my fish pond has only ever had a thin layer of ice on it, and that’s not lasted long either. 

At the moment, the ice is about 2 – 3 centimetres thick and the fish are looking rather lethargic.

Some of my plants are looking decidedly unhappy – parsley’s a goner I think.

But what seems not to be suffering at all – and in fact is looking really good is my wattle (acacia) tree. It’s just about to blossom.

Here’s a photo of it taken two years ago, weighed down heavily with snow. 

I don’t know what I was thinking of, planting a wattle in a planter box – so back he went into the ground. And it’s never looked back. 

A bit spindly, and tied to the upstairs balcony with a bit of rope – but doing a good job of creating a bit of summer shade for the courtyard.

In about a week or so's time when it's fully out, it's going to be a picture ....

And because I’ve been spending rather a lot of time indoors until it warms up a little, I’ve been trying to tidy up my photo folders. I’m a little lax when it comes to culling and categorizing. So I’m posting a few totally random ones that I stumbled upon which I quite like ……
At a vide-grenier in Argeliers last year -
a pumpkin seller who was more than happy
to pose and have his photo taken.
Newly pruned plane trees - Argeliers
A carving set no home should be without.
The shoe van that comes to Bize about once a month and
parks up for the morning on the Promenade.
The famous Blue Champagne ("La Soupe") being made in my kitchen by the lovely ladies of Bize. I had Christmas drinks at my place before I went to Australia - this brew had a total of 8 bottles of sparkly (there were quite a few of us!) plus all the other goodies. Delicious.....
Just a gorgeous window  ......
And this is one of my favourites. I took it on a group walk late last year - from the hills behind Bize. It's looking south to the Pyrenees. I used the maximum zoom of my little camera and stitched a few shots together, so they do appear closer than they are. They're actually at least an hour's drive from here, and can only been seen on clear days.

Moving sideways

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