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Dienstag, 3. Juli 2012

Cork Oaks and Golden Orioles

Doesn't it sound poetic? This is the essence of my stay here.
All around here are cork oaks, impressive trees with big gnarled branches.

Here they don't grow in a plantation like olive trees, but in a mixed forest with other oaks, chestnuts, olives, some undergrowth like blackberries, grapevines, honeysuckle and lots of other plants I didn't recognise or don't remember. The WWF says: "Cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world."
So it is not surprising that I saw quite a lot of birds (even though with two dogs taking phots was nearly impossible). The highlights for me were the Azure-winged Magpie and especially the Golden Oriole. Usually you only hear the song, as the bird likes to sit in the leafyist top of the tree. But the one I saw, while walking with the dogs, sat very visibly and very yellow on an outer branch.... only by the time I had untangled the camara-strap from the dog-leash - it was gone!
On Saturday I could also watch (and takes photos of) the stripping of cork from the trees. From a group of four men two had tomahawk-shaped axes. They hacked into the tree - well of course they had to know how deep as to only cut the cork and not hurt the tree. Then big chunks of cork could be broken loose.

Unfortunately our communication was quite limited, but I managed to find out, that the tree are stripped every nine years and only the good parts are used for wine stoppers. The "naked" tree trunk has a vividly orange colour.

For the survival of the tree it is only possible to use about a third of its bark.
There is a saying: " Plant eucalyptus for yourself, olive trees for your children and cork oaks for your grandchildren."

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