Fischland-Darß-Zingst: a land of flats and contrasts

Germany has a small coastline in proportion to its land size. The few seaside resorts found along the North and Baltic Seas are therefore highly prized by the Germans. One of them is the Fischland-Darss-Zingst Peninsula, on the Baltic coast.

Fischland-Darss-Zingst Peninsula

A postcard map of Fischland-Darss-Zingst

This 45km-long peninsula belongs to the Nationalpark Vorpommersche-Boddenlandschaft and is a prime wetland area which attracts many bird species and other wildlife. Situated a 2h train ride from Rostock, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, this popular destination is a must-see for nature enthusiasts who enjoy a picturesque blend of nature and culture.

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Evening with a buck

Roe deer are a common sight in the German countryside, especially in these early spring days. Take a train ride and you’ll see groups of them foraging in the open fields where crops are just starting to sprout, so it is not so much about how often but how close you encounter them.

During a recent trip to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, I managed to get relatively close to a few individuals that were grazing in a field at sunset.

I wasn’t concealed, merely quiet and still as a rock, my camera glued to my eye for about an hour. To my greatest excitement, a little buck split from the group and slowly walked in my direction until he stood 20 m away, still unsuspicious of my presence despite the awfully loud sound of my camera’s shutter…

Location: Greifswald, Germany

Mountain goat nanny & kid

Mountain goat kid from the Chilcotin Mountains, BC, Canada. The baby was only a few days old at the time these photographs were taken. Unsecure and clumsy on the sheer rocky slopes, he was being carefully watched over and encouraged by his mother—the nanny.

Approaching mountain goats closely is challenging. These ungulates are perfectly adapted to steep, rocky terrain and inhabit remote, high-up areas that are often inaccesible to humans. Moreover, they are generally shy creatures. To sight this young goat taking its first faltering steps, we had to reach the mountain top, a 2-hour climb on a hazardous slope where rockfalls regularly occurred (see images below).

Location: Chilcotin Mountains, BC, Canada

Young Alpine Ibex

A female Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) with kid having a snooze a few meters off the trail leading up to the Col de Fenestre, a mountain pass at the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps. For additional pictures of these ungulates and more information about the sightings and the area, click here.

Location: Saint-Martin-Vésubie, France

Going up the old salt route to the Col de Fenestre

St-Martin-Vésubie, Mercantour National Park

The Mercantour (core and peripheral area). The area discussed in the present article is contained in the black square.

The numerous trails that criss-cross the Parc National du Mercantour (French Alps) are an open book into the human history of the area. No matter how wild the landscapes they traverse, all are impregnated with tales from the past, nowadays discretely guarded by nature.

Alpine trails connecting France to Italy through the passes, like the one leading up to the Col de Fenestre (2,474 m) from the sanctuary of the Madone de Fenestre (1,904 m), in the Vallée de la Vesubie, have a particularly rich heritage. In the Middle-Ages, merchants travelled this ancient salt trading route from Nice to the Italian Piedmont, and early on the site of the Madone de Fenestre became a religious sanctuary successively held by the Romans, the Black Monks (Order of Saint Benedict), the Templars and the abbey of Borgo San Dalmazzo (Italy). Today, a chapel still stands in the valley where local pilgrims gather every year.

Driving from St-Martin-Vésubie—a traditional alpine village situated 1,000 m above sea level along the outside border of the park’s buffer zone (see first map)—is the only way to reach the Madone de Fenestre, so having a car is preferable. Other options include Continue reading