Nature by a scientist’s eyes


Going out to the nature can mean a lot of different things. It is an adventure for one, and a relaxation for the other. It can be an opportunity to meet others or to be alone a while. It is also fun to know what it means to others, which can be shared through conversations or by photos. So I was glad my girlfried took hundreds of pictures on the hiking tour I guided to the Watzmann ridge, because that way I could see the tour, during which I was too busy looking after our team of 20, through the eyes of a biologist. It’s quite a special angle of view I can assure you.

Nature has amazing range of scales and each of them is samewise exciting from the tiniest insects to the greatest mountains. A series of photos, made during the climb up to the Watzmannhaus show the unbelievable relativity of size without us – the man – to which we could compare them.

As we reached higher altitudes the flourishing nature gave its place to vegetation tolerating the minimal nutrition content of the rocky surface. They say there is no such thing as cold-loving or rock-loving species only those who survived when they were forced out to cold and rocky places. A series of photos show those species that had learnt how to live in this unfavourable environment.

Rocks are the historians of the Earth. Examining them can reveal tracks from the ages before the human. The Alps are mainly formed by limestone which preserves the most interesting fossils. A few photos show these prints in the rocks on the way up to the mountain.

We reached the Watzmannhaus and the next day we proceeded towards the ridge. The environment changed and the mountain showed its other face to us. Clouds were gathering in the morning wind and we were discussing our chances to avoid the shower. Some part of the sky was still clear, but raining clouds were also closing. It was completely out of our control, we only had our hopes. A series of photos have captured these moments.

But the weather was not too kind to us. It was strong wind and drizzle all the way up to the ridge. Still she got the time to capture some of the plants living on these higher altitudes. Mosses and lichens are the first settlers who can gain a foothold on the bare rock and slowly turn in into soil, where other plants will be able to exist.

She even captured some of the Alpine Chough sitting on the rocks or flying around us despite the rain and the stormy wind, in which we could hardly walk straight. A couple of photos in the album are about these tough birds.


Alpine Chough flying in the stormy wind

As we arrived to the Hocheck, we entered the clouds themselves. The visual range was minimal and the whole valley were hidden from us. The air was full of moisture and the cold wind blew persistently. Fortunately she still got the mood to take some photos.

On the top we decided to turn back and not continue on the ridge due to the weather. On the way down we got out of the clouds but the wind was still strong and wet. She capture a series of photos about the strength of it.

As we descended to the valley the air got warmer, the wind got lighter and the landscape became green again. Insects and flowers got into the macro focus again, while the mountains were still in the background. It is amazing how many kinds of flowers she found during that few hours. There is a long series of photos capturing them.

“More eyes see more” – they say, but its only true if the sight is shared. So I encourage you to find out what your fellow hikers saw on your trip. You will be amazed.


[GPS track]

[More thoughts]

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