Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pyrenean Spring

I've been away for a week or so. Part of the time, I was in Spain looking at the geology of the Pyrenees mountains.

I took this photograph before leaving Orly Airport on Saturday evening, the sun dazzling through the plate glass.

I snapped a lot of pictures of the snow-capped mountains out of the window of the minibus. Fleeting moments. When I look at this photograph, I feel as if the clouds and mountains are still trying to slip past.

This is a strange phenomenon: processional caterpillars. I was told not to touch them as they have poisonous hairs on their backs. The photograph shows the front caterpillars of a chain that was more than four metres long.

Other insects were starting to stir as well. This large ant was busy scouting the rocks, pursued everywhere by its shadow. I think it might be Polyergus refescens which is about a centimetre long. This type of ant is noted for the forays made by female 'Amazons' on the nests of other ants, stealing their larvae and pupae to raise them as 'slaves'. The Amazons are so adapted for fighting they cannot feed themselves. Instead, the slaves have to do it.

The rivers being fed by the melting snows from the Pyrenees had a blue-grey colour.

There was blossom on the trees and a few flowers were coming into bloom such as these Grape-Hyacinths (Muscari neglectum), a member of the lily family.

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