04 September 2013

Madeira fauna

A few days ago, I went back to the P.R. 1. This time alone, I, once again, trekked the most demanding of all the Madeira hikes: the route between the Pico do Areeiro and Pico Ruívo (see From Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruívo and back in this blog). It was not my intention to beat the times of our most competent trail runners. I don't have the guts for that. However I did manage to hike it (in a fast pace) in about 1h 36min and choosing the longest route (by Pico das Torres). Not so bad, I guess, for an out-of-shape guy. The route is about 7 kms in length and since I had to return to Pico do Areeiro (had the car there), I ended up doubling that distance and it was almost sunset when I finally arrived to the departure point, located close to the Radar Station nº4 of the Portuguese Air Force.
On the way back, and with the mountain in almost absolute silence (at the time I was alone in the trail) I had a surprise close encounter with representatives of the local fauna: a cool band of partridges.
I remember going hunting, when I was a child, with my granddad. Besides wild rabbits, partridges were our most wanted trophies. Back at home, my grandma would then make some nice stews with them.
Although I did love those hunting "expeditions" with my grandfather, as I got older I developed an ecological consciousness that led me away from hunting. But I do miss those days I've spent with him.
So, imagine my surprise when I saw this flock of about a dozen partridges appearing right in front of me, a few minutes after passing the Pico do Gato tunnel. And contrary to what I remembered from my childhood, these were the coolest partridges I've ever seen. So cool that I sat down in the stairs for almost an hour to photograph them, while they were eating some wild flowers a couple of meters away from me. Fearless. Just like domestic chickens.
How lovely is nature when everything is in harmony.
The Radar Station nº4, of the Portuguese Air Force, in Pico do Areeiro (1818 mts above sea level), is both the starting and arrival point of the P.R. 1, the trail connecting Madeira's highest peaks.
All pictures taken with Nikon Coolpix P7100 and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, ver. 4.1.

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