Thursday, September 15, 2016

The dirty side of the santiago´s way

Santiago´s way passes very close to the Irati forest. In fact, the figure of protection that we have is a Z.E.C. (Special Area of Conservation), and is jointly with Orreaga- Roncesvalles.

This year I  combine my job as  nature and cultural guided, with  the cleaning of Santiago´s way,where sometimes I work as guide in English.

When in the last year I  did the way with a group of 15 English people, from Donibane Garazi (Saint Jean de Pied de Port) to Logroño, I didn´t realized it was particularly dirty, but when you start looking, you realizes all  the garbage that people have thrown, or the paper that flew, that jacket that somebody left ... the two tents that have collected .. but above all, the most garbage was from paper napkins and wet wipes

Paper napkins are broken down over the years, and although  they are biodegradable, they are biodesagreables like banana and tangerines peels, etc ..

Tent and waste, before arrive to Uterga (Navarre)

After magnesitas factory (Zubiri,Navarre)

However, the wet wipes are made from a stronger material, and do not decompose easily. Avoid leaving them in nature, please.
Pine trees between Bargota and Viana (Navarre)

Shitter with underpants to bottom branches.
Before arrives to Lintzoain

I found all kinds of clothes,
and I mean both jackets, shirts, rain jackets and pants, and socks, underpants, knickers or thongs, and I can not understand the reason to leave these clothes in the way, as it seems difficult to forget or lose.

I have filled about 50 garbage bags (100 liters) and without big things like car wheels or big plastic bottles that I do not put them in the bags.
It is also true that on the periphery of the villages, I collected a lot of trash that  it was clear not correspond to pilgrims but to the villagers, or weekenders and bunches of youngers will drink in areas where they could access the cars.
Waste collected from the cross with the road to  Bargota until Viana ( Navarre)

I do not think most people are dirty but when dirty people pass ,we note quickly
They can pass  through a path 1000 clean  people and not be noticed thar they are passed, but 10 dirty  people passin  everything looks like a rubbish tip.
Anyway, if  every year each year  pass more than 200,000 pilgrims from 150 countries, there must be clean people and dirty people, as in all the countries.

I understand that if someone has a stomach crump on the path, and no bathrooms nearby, have to get by on a secluded side of the way in a pine forest, among the brambles, etc .. but consider how you leave the place after you.
If we  want to do things right, the best is to make a hole in the ground, or to use a natural one, and then cover it with leaves or soil so that it rots quickly.

The alternative to using paper is to use the water bottle that all  pilgrims have to cleanse the bottom. IWhen I was child, all of us used   trees leaves, although I prefer the alternative of the  water.

Whatever that thousands of people do in a small space has a big impact. There is no culture  that likes the trash, but all of them have it, and  the treatment is very different, well as their level of involvement in its elimination.

The idea will be that everyone should have about  the garbage is that if we have brought here, we should continue taking it until throw in the containers.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Spring in irati forest, The life explosion

Scilles blooming  in late april

Recently  the snow disappeared, and plants are quick to sprout with the high temperatures.
In the lower parts of the valleys beeches already have their new leaves of light green, while ash trees, walnut trees and oaks take it a bit more quiet.
Those same trees also lost leaves later in the fall. If you go to sleep later, then you wake up later.

 Beech forest flowers called prevernals plants need to rush to make their life cycle before the shade of beech leaves kill them. So even with some snow can start to sprout  and do all their cycle in a month and a half. Most of them are bulbs, like  asturiensis ,bulbocodium and varduliensis daffodils already emerged in April, although poet´s daffodil (narcissus poeticus) will come out in June, They are also bulbs like the asphodels (Asphodelus albus) the dogtooth violet (Erythronium dens-canis ) and others as  the Pyrenean squill, (Scilla lilio- hyacinthus) the upper and following pictures.

Pyrenean squill. One who dares to be different from the crowd violet.

Over the next three weeks, large areas of the beech forest will be covered with these flowers, creating an spectacular colorful, which joined with the leaves of the beech trees that will sprout in the coming days, give us an excellent opportunity to make some of the best picture that We can  made of a beech forest
They are also  blooming anemones (Anemone nemorosa), the golden Liver (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), or Spurge laurel (Daphne laureola)

After the Pyrenean Squills will be replaced on the fringe of the forest by others such as foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), gentians (acaulis, Verna, in the few areas lutea), etc

The last liverleaves of the year

Spurge laurel (Daphne lauréola)

Snakehead (Arum maculatum)

 Opening Fern

But not only Pyrenean squills warn us that something is moving in the forest;
Mammals signals are evident wherever we look. From nibbled Squills to badger droppings, deer, roe deer, hare, wild boar, etc ..
The scratch places of  the Roe deers are very curious. Males remove vegetation around a beech small, and rubbed against her so that even damage the bark is scraped. In this way,. others roe deer look and smell, that this territory belongs to someone.
Roe deer scratch place.

Roe deer horn marks

Also insects begin to move, encouraged by the development of their food plants, especially  caterpillars.
These are some kind of noctuidae or Erebidae, moth larvae, which feed on these leaves megaphorbic plants that live only with very high humidity. Here they are eating the  Adenostiles alliariae, that will blossom into June- July. inside the forest.

Birds do not keep quiet, and We can hear the repetitive chanting of finches or Song thrush(turdus philomelos) and sporadic different types of woodpeckers.

Here We have the unfortunate aspect that leave a dead tree, but standing, after to be used as 5 stars restaurant where birds find different menu larvae (Cerambycidae, bark beatles ..) appropriate for each species. Nuthatchs ( Sitta europaea) also come here to eat something

Feed holes of woodpeckers

White backedwoodpecker female eating on the ground

This female woodpecker eating and was rummaging among the leaves for 10 minutes. The photo has taken two weeks before, when I did a tour for a bird watcher. It is by far because we do not approach much to not bother. In fact, while we watched with telescope, she did not notice our presence.
Well, this is what I observed in a space of 1 hour and a half and I thought you might be interested.

Living in a valley in the Pyrenees, although it has many disadvantages, it also has its advantages, as can be in these sites only 5 minutes from home.
Here the last photo of another mammal, trying to leave no trace in the forest, just in your emotions.

If you want to know these places can write to:

May 16, 2016

Beeches have taken all the leaf and the dimly lit in the forest is full. Yesterday had been a foggy day and it seemed that at any time magical fairies court could appear as something normal.
Ramsons (Allium ursinum) begins to replace the flower of squill, and in the meadows the Gentiana acaulis start the flowering..

Añadir leyenda
Gentiana acaulis

Ramsons (Allium ursinum)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Crab apple and the incredible fungus Terana coerulea.

Typical wheather for this time would be have 1'5 m. of snow in the mountain or more, but the truth is that except two small snow, we have not to much snow or rain, not in the dimensions to be considered normal in winter.
On this photo you can see here the crab apple (Malus sylvestris) that I have in my garden in Orbaizeta (Navarre) It is an exceptional specimen for the specie because it measures more than 10 meters.

Crab apple or Baxako.(Malus sylvestris)

The last  year had been very good for apple  trees, and they gave an unusual amount of fruit. In this case,3 months later, the most of apples from this specimen remain still on the ground, in perfect conditions.

I wonder how a fruit can be three months above the ground, outdoors, and not rot.
Surely there will be many animals feeding with them.

Pecked apple by a blackbird (Turdus merula)

I could see apples pecked by birds, probably from blackbirds (Turdus merula) but I could also observe eaten and defecated remains of carnivores like foxes.

With these apples, we make a liquor made with anise, very  much appreciated in these Pyrenean valleys, both in Navarra and in our neighboring valley of Garazi / Cize and Xiberoa / Soule across the border; the Baxaka or patxaka.

I picked up two boxes of these apples, which gave to my neighbors, and I did a test with few of them in white wine, to try out how it would catch the flavour of s the baxaka in white wine.
After three months I filtered, and bottled.
The result was a white wine with an astringent touch, and with a flavor reminiscent of quince.
I dont think so it is going to be fashionable to go bar hopping, but is cool.

It really heat up the stomach!!

Terana Coerulea

To finish, I leave you with this photo of a cobalt color mushroom,  eating this stick of boxwood. Although the picture clarifies a little bit, it has an extraordinary blue color. It´s the Terana coerulea,
Here you are two links:

He was elected fungus of the 2009 by the German Mycological Society, for the great antibiotic action on Streptococcus pyogenes, who causing bacterial pharyngitis, and framed in the type of meat-eating bacterias!
You see, a twig with a nice color, but it is much more than it seems!

The essential things are  invisible to the eyes!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cleaning Orbaizeta old munition factory in community work

The Orbaizeta arms factory was one of the largest weapons factories in Europe in the late eighteenth century. Although he is known by this name, actually they manufactured munitions (bombs, grenades and solid balls for guns).
It was  running  difficulty during 100 years, and soffer many wars, destruction and fires, which affected the villages of the valley of Aezkoa and therefore their neighbors for generations.
Today, once returned  the property of  the mountains in 1982 expropriated by the Spanish crown, and recovered its ruins by the  Aezkoa Valley council, is BIC (belongins of cultural interest). They most of the ruins can be visited but  they require consolidation and maintenance

Cleaning the yard  of carpentry and locksmithing

The money than before the crisis had to consolidate the ruins (PDR sustainable) disappeared, and the situation of the ruins is precarious. There are areas where you should not go because there is a risk of falling stones, and they are areas fenced that people are not always respected, but many others are visited.
  For this wide area, last year some neighbors of  the tourism sector of the valley started to coordinate and propose to make an auzolan to the Aezkoa Valley council.
The auzolan or artelan ( means neighborhood work) is a figure of community organization typically Basque, where neighbors get together to do a job for the benefit of the community, as in this case

Other times someone could summon his neighbors, to do some private work, like fixing a roof, but that person would always be willing to back the aid.
In the twentieth century this practice began to disappear, The village councils began to pay to third parties some of the work previously done in auzolan, and people will not need their neighbors and prefer to pay professionals arrangements.
Need was what kept the community together, and now also many people only go to the villages for the weekend.

The famous 22 arches separating the coal cellar and the  furnaces

If no money but there is goodwill, there is much that can be done.
This year we also have met for that purpose. The grass that usually invade the factory had been cut almost entirely by two council workers in May, but it waas necesary another cut, finish cutting the parts waht they didn´t cut, and expose in certain places removing 1cm  of ground the old pave that  the factory had, so that in later years the plants do not grow in that area, and  people can enjoy more the visit.

We have also conditioned the descent to the river so that people can get the most typical photo, the arcades. Last year we did most of this work, and now only have had to make a few tweaks.

clean pavement
If you wonder where I was, I will say that clearing and occasionally, taking pictures so that you can see it now.
All morning it has not left us the "txirimiri," the typical fine rain in these last days of 35º C seemed a distant memory, and so in this photo  we are not exactly ready to go to a wedding,

in front of the  bokarte

It is also true that we laughed, enjoyed the difference between before and after, and ... the hamaiketako or lunch!

Txistorra (sausage) and xingarra (bacon)

The underground passages

Knowns by few people and walk almost nobody, is a network of small canals that carried water under the arms factory, being the largest of them  Iturroil stream channel, passing beneath the palace, and crosses all the factory towards the river.

Main channel

Minor channel

 Legartza stream outway

Current up

The main channel is high enough for a person to be standing comfortably, and  as much the soil as the walls are made of ashlar stones. It's probably the best preserved of the whole factory, but  visit is not easy.

If one day you want to see any of these areas and see some of the tiles of the old iron roof,cannonballs, knows how life was  in this place, you know where to find me.