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Baby seals

From late-November to mid-January you can see grey seals and their families on the beach in Vlieland. Vlieland is an island in the north of the Netherlands. When the seals are newborn, they have white fur. It takes about five weeks before a baby seal can swim and hunt for its own fish.

Baby seals on the beach

Young gray seal
Young gray seal

This December on the beaches of Vlieland (an island at the north of the Netherlands) gray seals bring up their offspring. The newborn pups are white. After about five weeks they start to get their adult colors and from that moment on, they are able to swim.

Mamma seal keeps a close eye.

Young seal swimming
Young seal swimming

Protected species
These seals live in the Wadden Sea, an intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. It is rich in biological diversity.

In the Middle Ages gray seal were exterminated by humans in the Wadden Sea. Around 1950 the first gray seals were seen again in the Netherlands. Since the 1980’s their population is increasing to healthy levels. Gray seals are nowadays a protected species in the Netherlands.

#zeehonden #vlieland #grijze zeehond #grey seal

Exhibition at the Montanha Pico Festival, Azores Portugal

Glaciers Landmannalaugar is selected as a finalist 🙂

In case you travel to the Azores, don’t miss out on the Montanha International Photography Exhibition 2019!

The announcement of the winners, one for photography in Portugal and one for mountain photography around the world, will be announced in 2019. The exhibition is open until May at Foto_Galeria, opened for visit 24 hours in the Fire Hall of Madalena, Pico Island.

On World Mountain Day, December 11, MiratecArts presented its programming for the coming months, including the photography exhibition for the Montanha Pico Festival. The official selection of 20 finalists at the Montanha International Photography Contest presents the work of photographers from Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, the United States of America, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Iran, Russia and Portugal.

Read more

Glaciers Landmannalaugar.
Glaciers Landmannalaugar – OFFICIAL SELECTION
Concurso Internacional de Fotografia Montanha
Montanha International Photography Contest 2019

 

#miratecarts #montanhapicofestival #mountainsmatter

A small story about Gatineau Park and Wakefield

This Summer I’ve visited Wakefield in Canada. I wrote this little story in my notebook after a walk with Ian Whyte, associate editor of The Ecological Citizen. He explained a lot about the area and it’s non-human inhabitants.

More about Gatineau Park: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatineau_Park

 

Gantineau river, near Wakefield, Quebec 1897

The sound of axes that hack and falling trees fills the sky. Thousands and thousands of logs are floating down the Gatineau river southbound to Ottawa. The newly clear cut land gives farmers the opportunity to make a living. During Winter, the men went out logging while the women stayed and took care of the kids in their log cabins. Life was hard: disease, cold, bad harvests, cabin fever… After some years the soil was depleted and there were no more trees left to log. The people took their possessions and moved elsewhere.

1949

A screeching door is moving in the wind. A boy by the name of Ian is staring at the ruins of the abandoned farms. Weeds are growing on the fields and small trees are growing, thus reclaiming their territory.

2018

Birds are singing, woodpeckers peck, a nature photographer from Europe is admiring the scene while swatting two mosquitoes on his leg. The forest is home to an enormous biodiversity: spruce, maple, oak, ironwood, wild orchids, mushrooms, hawks, deer, bear, beetles, bumblebees, reindeer moss and many more plants and animals.

Human artifacts are overgrown of have disintegrated. Some silent witnesses tell the story of the land: rusty barbed wire, the occasional apple tree blends in seamlessly with the forest. At the beginning of trail 53, Monsieur Therioux still has to collect his pickup truck that he left behind decades ago..

It took almost a lifetime for the forest to grow and the animals to come back. Over time, the forest will become richer and even more beautiful. Unless the history of logging and development will repeat itself.

 

The Gatineau area near Wakefield is a forest with a protected status. However it is the only federal park that’s not protected by the National Parks Act, thus it is not prohibited to log and even build in the forest. In my opinion Gatineau should receive a more protected status – like a national park or forest – and therefore be saved from logging and/or development. So we and future generations can enjoy its beauty.

A sad before and after, what happened to my favorite city forest?

As a landscape photographer, I want to find and photograph nature in (almost) pristine spots or places that have escaped urban or rural planning. When I return to a place that I’ve photographed before, it happens seldom that it has changed for the better. Many times, once beautiful places are gone forever due to greed of mankind.

wh vliegenbos
Before: What the city forest used to look like in June.

WH Vliegenbos in Amsterdam used to be a small city forest with a wealth of biodiversity. After a brutal attempt to make the forest more attractive for visitors, it looks like a mutilated city park. The once rich undergrowth has been removed and the forest is ‘thinned’ of larger trees to give more light to smaller trees. This affects the bird population since smaller trees lack good nesting opportunities. With removing the undergrowth small animals – like hedgehogs – are disturbed during their hibernation and left homeless.

After: a mutilated city park in January

Toxic waste

New cycling paths have been laid, which in itself is no that bad. As a base for the asphalt layer, toxic building waste is used containing plastic and other pollutants.

Toxic building waste, soon to be covered with asphalt and to be removed by future generations.

Why is this happening?

Before: a wealth of biodiversity

Why do people want to make a forest neat by cutting and growing it again? For millions of years nature could do very well without us. I suspect the city of Amsterdam is using park maintenance as an excuse to make money by selling wood as bio based fuel. To quote John Muir* “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fool”.  I hope that my favorite city forest will recover in the years to come.

After the carnage: why do people cut trees first and put this pathetic little one back?

* A Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas.