Deserts of the Emirates

The endless dunes between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain are golden waves of lifeless sand, dead and uninviting. They are also increasingly defaced by power lines, pipes and water tanks and demarcated by endless walls and fences as tenure and utilisation are settled. They are still traversed by camels but now also four wheel drives with tyres flattened toContinue reading “Deserts of the Emirates”

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 hasContinue reading “Lake Skadar Transitions”

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).Continue reading “Rumija’s Romans”

Buljarica in Bloom

Buljarica was hot and humid under high sheets of cloud sliding slowly in from the Adriatic. The small meadows on the narrow coastal plain behind the huge reed bed have no gate just a piece of cord slung across the entrance and are now high with grasses, bright yellow brassicas and pale blue flax. The warm weather of theContinue reading “Buljarica in Bloom”

April Blues

Two species of blue butterfly (the Lycaenid family) are now out, both flying low in patches of rough grassland between Virpazar and Rijeka Crnojevića. One is the chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) and the other the short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades). The first is quite different from most blues with its lovely dark shades and heavy marking andContinue reading “April Blues”

Lake Šasko’s Snakes

The earliest records of the old city of Šas, known much earlier as Svač, go back to the 6th century and it was famed for having a church for every day of the year. The city was ransacked in the 13th Century by the Mongols and then again by the Ottomans in the 16th century; it was not reallyContinue reading “Lake Šasko’s Snakes”

Buljarica Spring

A week later and the weather is balmy; cool first thing in the sharp breeze but soon warming into a cloudless and hot day. The back road that skirts the eastern end of the reed bed passes through small pastures and fallow fields divided by thorn shelter belts, untended olive groves and finally a few housesContinue reading “Buljarica Spring”