Farewell Virpazar

On a chill morning in early March a fisherman puts out not long after dawn to set his nets, baling the icy water from the small boat as he meanders the flooded channel. Fishing is tough and incessant with scant rewards outside  of the short, summer tourist season. The fishermen work alongside herons, cormorants, grebes and egrets…

Žabljak Crnojevića Emperors

If Freyer’s purple emperor (Apatura metis), or FPE for short, is abundant around Lake Skadar as I think it maybe, having found a handful of territories at Vranjina and knowing that its food plant, white willow (Salix alba), is very commonly distributed around the wetter areas of the lake, then an easy test is to go…

Lake Skadar’s Emperor

The weather the other morning at Vranjina was sunny, clear and warm. The squacco herons now joined by a couple of little egrets rushed from the water’s edge as usual, some perching motionless in the nearby trees.  A little bittern flew across the road; this is a much more reserved heron species and only seen…

Plavnica’s Fields of Gold

The morning is hot sun and the meadows at Plavnica are now tall grass and a profusion of wildflowers. The few cultivated fields down the long winding tracks, which a few months were waterlogged and a part of Lake Skadar, have been recently ploughed and harrowed; one has lines of black plastic sheeting laid to both protect and…

Godinje’s Knight of the Garter

Godinje is a pretty village the other side of the hill from Virpazar.  Almost every house has neat signs on the road advertising their home-produced Vino, Rakija and Med (honey). The owners sit under the shade of a tree on the terrace or on a chair behind a desk laden with bottles eyeing the passing traffic. The…

Around the Lakeside Village of Dodoši

On the last day of April, I head to the north side of Lake Skadar between Podgorica and Cetinje and the lakeside village of Dodoši. The hills are south facing and the vegetation less lush than on the opposite side; the plants here are also more advanced with wild sage (Salvia officinalis) flowering as well as tall…

Lake Skadar Transitions

The enclosed lake beyond Vranjina has transformed from the winter view of ice blue waters and bare brown woodlands to water, jam thick with algae, lilies and reed, surrounded by shades of spring green willow and poplar. The rate of growth of the emergent vegetation over the past weeks after the temperatures increased and the cold winds died has…

Virpazar’s Glanville Fritillaries

On the hot afternoon of April 22nd after a long day, I saw my first fritillary butterfly of the year, which settled within spitting distance at the top of an area of long, abandoned terraced fields not far from the village of Kruševica on the Virpazar to Rijeka Crnojevića road. At the time, I was eating a bright red…

Rumija’s Romans

April 20th is another brilliant day and Lake Skader ice flat, blue gin under blue sky. The villages and hamlets are alive with sprouting vines and emerging vegetables; an old woman bends over hoeing carefully along the rows. The surrounding wooded slopes are bright green swathes of hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) spattered with vanilla ice creams of flowering manna ash (Fraxinus ornus)….