Dancing Butterflies In Tasmania

Sometimes, the simplest things are the most beautiful, like thousands of butterflies fluttering across the meadows of Riana, Tasmania in a unique choreography as soon as the morning sun had warmed up their tiny wings.

They might be mating…

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…or wandering.

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I’m not entirely sure why these butterflies did what they did, but the owner of this Tassie farm told me that the phenomenon of the dancing butterflies only happens for 1 to 2 weeks each year and he has rarely seen as many as in February this year. 🦋🦋🦋

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Backyard Kiwi Release In Parua Bay

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Meeting a kiwi up close is a wonderful moment for kids

If I was to recommend one New Zealand location for kiwi watching it would be the region around Whangarei in Northland. Already a few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Sparky here. In March 2018, I made acquaintance with Ross and 3 of his friends. The 4 kiwi birds have been released into the wild at Parua Bay (Whangarei Heads), after settling over from the stoat free Limestone Island.

Since more than 15 years, Backyard Kiwi (WHLF) is monitoring wild kiwi in the area and capturing chicks shortly after they have been hatching. The birds then get transported to the predator free Limestone Island off the Whangarei Heads coast where they can grow and get strong enough to stand a chance of survival against all kinds of mammals populating New Zealand’s mainland.

Once strong enough (after 6 months or more), the kiwi are recaptured and brought back to Whangarei Heads to introduce wider genetic variety into the area. This might sound like a lenghty procedure, which still does not guarantee the kiwi’s survival once it’s back on the mainland. Still, the success rate speaks for itself: from previously 80 kiwi birds in the region (2001), the number went up to 800+ kiwi (2018). Their movements are tracked and regularly updated in this map, proving that the Whangarei Heads community can truly claim to have kiwi in their backyard.

Backyard Kiwi is organizing regular kiwi releases. If you would like to use the occasion to meet these nocturnal birds up close, keep an eye on their website or Facebook page, where they announce their release dates ahead of time.

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Lots of audience for 4 little kiwi birds

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Backyard Kiwi staff has been sharing valuable information, like the fact that uncontrolled dogs are a major threat to kiwi

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Before releasing the kiwi birds into the wild again, locals and all other visitors had a great chance to see the kiwi live and ask questions

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What a star. Photo. Click. Photo. Click.

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This one got a bit upset by all the people and the lack of sleep

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Whereas this one didn’t mind and fell asleep again

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Ross was the one who got released first

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On the way to Ross’ new home in Parua Bay

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Home sweet home! This is where the kiwi got released. After catching up some sleep it probably went out to search for food. The kiwi birds can move around freely and aren’t forced to stay at their release place. Some of them have been tracked over a distance of 10 kilometres.

Here is a short bonus video from the moment when the kiwi got placed into his new home in Parua Bay. Good luck little fellow!

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Photo Essay: El Hierro

After visiting El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, I have been approached several times by people asking us how much time to spend there. Obviously, it all depends on your holiday style. If you love spending quiet days at the beach you can stay there forever. But if you are interested in visiting all the popular corners recommended in travel guides, I’d say 1 week is perfect, especially if you travel with kids and don’t want to (read can’t) go at a crazy speed.

Here are my personal highlights from our week in El Hierro. Please click through the gallery to read the captions for more details…

And here is a short bonus video of some crabs in La Caleta, fighting against the strong waves of the sea. I filmed this on our way out from the public pools in La Caleta. Who’s up for a bath?

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Weekend Wanderings: La Palma’s Salinas De Fuencaliente

The Fuencaliente (Hot Fountain) region in the South of La Palma has been getting a lot of attention lately due to increased volcanic activity. While the Canary Islands are a volcanic wonderland, not all volcanoes have gone sleepy. La Palma’s Teneguia last erupted in 1971 and a recent “seismic swarm” indicated that it’s far from being tame.

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View from Volcan San Antonio over La Palma’s volcanic landscape with Volcan Teneguia to the right and the Salinas de Fuencaliente in the distance

Can you imagine salt flats in the middle of these active volcano fields?

Neither could I.

Yet there they are. Las Salinas de Fuencaliente are some 35,000 square metres of salt flats and the salt produced here is sold throughout La Palma under the brand name Teneguia (like the volcano on the photo above).

It’s a scenic drive from the town of Fuencaliente down to these salt flats, but the Salinas themselves are a photographer’s dream. The black lava rocks, the white salt mounds and the blue water of the ocean form the most beautiful contrast — probably more so on a sunny day or during sunrise, which I sadly didn’t get to experience this time…

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The garden of salt

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The salt pans out of black rock attract heat, allowing the highest concentration that can be reached (360 gram per litre)

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White mound, black mound, white mound, black mound…

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Let’s not get distracted from the red soil!

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Winter in the Canary Islands does not look that different, does it?

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View towards the new and old lighthouse Faro de Fuencaliente

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It can get windy here

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Panoramic view from the restaurant terrace

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What’s New?

You might have noticed that I am blogging less often as I used to. It’s not that I have nothing to say or write about. And it’s definitely not that I don’t want to keep blogging. I do. Life is simply keeping me very busy these days.

But here are the good news: I keep on photographing. That’s why I recently updated most of my photo galleries on this site and you are welcome to have a look at what I’ve been up to in 2016 and at the beginning of this year.

I updated Landscapes, Weather, Nature, Animals, People and Urban to include photos from France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

We are planning to travel quite a bit in 2017. New and old destinations are on our list and I promise that you will be able to read about our adventures over here 🌋🏕️🏖️🏜️🏙️

Evident And Invisible At Once

The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
~Joseph B. Wirthlin

Photo details (please click on the image for best quality):

Canon EOS 60D, 17mm, ISO 3200, F5.6, 1/160 sec.
Location: Notre Dame, Paris, France.

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Weekend Wanderings: Coastal Walk In Biarritz, France

Biarritz, queen of beaches, beach of kings. I fell in love with this cute town on day 1 of my visit. I even remember exactly when it happened: at the very moment when I stepped out of one of the town’s narrow alleys, overlooking a long stretch of sandy beach from above with hundreds of surfers paddling their boards towards a magical sunset above the mountains of the Spanish Basque country in the background.

Here is what I enjoyed most while walking along the French Atlantic coast between Pointe Saint-Martin (Lighthouse) and the Plage de la Côte des Basques.

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