Sunday, 11 August 2013

'Le Animaux des Alps'- Goats on the Edge

When the Spanish Armada sailed in the 1600s the crew, being a forward thinking bunch, packed not simply just food but also livestock. In fact, they took with them a huge number of goats. This meant that when they were pushed north, they took the goats north too. This meant when the ships were wrecked off the Scottish coast, the goats were wrecked too. Goats are famously hardy, so there's now a sizeable feral population in localised areas, such as Colonsay.

These are now seen almost as semi-wild, and it is testimony to the hardy and adaptable model that is the Goat's body that they can thrive in so many different environments, including central Manchester where they make a delicious curry. But aside this they have also colonised the high mountains, including the Alps. In fact there are two Goat species in the Alps, the Chamois and the Alpine Ibex, the latter being larger with huge sexually dimorphic horns.

And to live up high they have to be expert climbers, if only there were some way of conveying how sure-footed they were on scree and boulder, perhaps some kind of well-known phrase? Alas I cannot think of one, but suffice to say that south of Croix du Bonhomme there is a steep slope of gravel and muck, and i've seen an Ibex climb it...

Alpine Ibex- Climbing High

...Yep that preamble really was just to get to the idea that i've seen an Ibex. Well I'm quite excited about it so that's pretty brief, in comparison to what I want to say about Ibex. Next question is 'did you get any photos, Joe?' Answer: 'Hmmmm...define 'photos' '. What I mean by this is that the Ibex arrived at the Col at teatime. As a storm set in. So photography wasn't a real option.

Not close up, anyhow. That shot before was of one we chanced upon on our way up to Bonhomme. I think I best explain what Bonhomme is first, its a refuge. Which basically means its a hut which has beds and food in it. And imagine our surprise as, half way through tea, four Ibex appeared on the horizon. It was speckling rain and the sky was the colour of the slate beneath my feet as I clambered up to get a view of the goats. An idea came to me; what about Black and White? Well I switched onto full BW and shot a couple of frames...

Alps 2013_1 1136_2

...not bad...but i'd much rather be closer to em! But still there's something vaguely atmospheric about these types of shots, at least they kinda show off the hardships of life in the high mountains...

Alps 2013_1 1105_2

...and in a way i'm quite pleased with these shots, so I returned to my food with renewed gusto...

Alpine Ibex- Storm's Edge time, some shots of one of my favourite small rodents (and its no longer Luis Suarez!)

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