Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Lifting morale - take it to the air

I'm in a very serious situation here in France. It's probable that I'll lose my job and with that JC, apartment, belongings, dream, France. The exact nature of what I'm going through cannot be revealed at this time but it's so bad I'm in tears quite frequently. Good stress valve but not fun or productive. I told JC I needed to be distracted from the hours I spend sending out CVs, searching for needles in haystacks, thinking of possible creative ways to save myself.

So we went to Espace Rambouillet which is a natural park containing some animals and lots of large forest trees. It contains four separate sections:

The Forest of Eagles contains aviaries of predatory birds, the Savage Forest which contains small deer and wild boar, the Deer Forest containing stags and does and aurochs in a natural environment, and Green Odyssey which is a suspended trail.
Let's start with the latter. There are platforms connected by very swingy walkways several metres from the ground. The platforms contain educational presentations and that was mildly interesting. Topics covered  nuts, mushrooms, squirrels, trees, forestry methods in the massive Rambouillet Forest. The swinging walkways can induce a bit of motion sickness so I made sure I went first to minimise that. It's safe and well designed.

 On the left is a bee hotel, yes it really is. The various wood shapes have small holes drilled in them to encourage wild bees (who don't live in hives) to take up residence. Bees are vital for the health of the forest.

We walked along forest trails wanting to see wild animals. The wild animals are not silly, they try to stay as far away from people as possible, especially screaming kids, so the viewing areas didn't afford any real view without powerful binoculars, which we hadn't brought.

 In the distance we saw some deer and some aurochs but nothing else for all the walking we did so we didn't bother finishing the main walk. 

What I was most interested in was the demonstration of birds of prey. We were introduced to hawks, buzzards, vultures, falcons. I tried to take videos but things weren't all in focus (Ii need a loupe to see in the sun).

 The ranger doing the commentary was very knowledgeable and experienced though I couldn't understand all of it.
We were warned not to eat anything in front of the birds, not to raise an arm etc or we might get sampled. Yep, those beaks and claws are designed to shred carcasses.

Many times driving past fields I've seen the small birds of prey hovering in the air over one spot for ages, obviously keeping an eye on a mouse, rabbit, viper or some other small animal.

Despite fresh temperatures, we enjoyed our time at the park but were disappointed not to see more animals. However, it's not a zoo.

Test your photography skills on the bird show.



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