Octopus

Octopus

One of the most fascinating sea creatures for me is the octopus. I found this small one whilst snorkelling off the coast of Croatia. They’re incredibly complicated and intelligent creatures and I although I ate them when I was young I wouldn’t dream of doing so now. The way they watch you with their eyes is uncannily intelligent. Sadly, the old fisherman who owned the house we rented didn’t feel the same and I watched him bring in two quite large specimens (2.5 kilos a piece) and then proceed to butcher them with his hands (inverting the head sac and pulling out everything) whilst they suckered on to his arms with their tentacles. Tourists want their rubbery soup….

I took this photo using a Dazzne P2 action cam.

Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse Fish

Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse Fish

One of my favourite activities whilst on holiday is sea fishing. I picked up the bug for it whilst in Florida (especially pier fishing in the Keys) when I was younger. I’m not really a fan of freshwater fishing as I like watching the sun go down over the sea of an evening (and being bitten alive by mosquitoes) – it gives me time and inspiration to think.

Sadly, the area around Croatia where we were staying has been massively over fished and this is noticeable in the virtual lack of large fish, although there are still plenty of fry about. I caught this beautiful Rainbow Wrasse (Coris julis) but nothing else this year. I had to retire my old telescopic rod last year as the saltwater had rusted it to pieces so this year I tried out a new, much larger telescopic carp rod which my wife had bought me as a present. It was much too unwieldy for the type of fish I was catching and no tuna wanted to take my bait.

Snorkelling in Croatia with a Dazzne P2

Snorkelling in Croatia with a Dazzne P2

I’ve just returned from a week long family trip to Croatia. It was a long drive through Slovakia, Hungary and then all of Croatia but it was worth it. We rented the same house on the sea that we had last year and did much of the same aquatic activities.

This time I took with me a new toy. Originally, I’d wanted to buy a GoPro Hero4 Silver but instead opted for a much cheaper Dazzne P2 as it seemed good enough for my needs and I’d rather save my money for when the new Garmin action cam comes out. Above water I wasn’t impressed with the fish eye effect of the P2 but underwater it shone. Absolutely super underwater video. Well worth the money and I’d recommend it.

The crystal clear Adriatic Sea is the perfect place for underwater filming and snorkeling. My wife and me had a bit of an adventure on the open sea but I can’t talk about that at the moment. I can say though that it was a once in a lifetime and a life changing event. Really cool. More to come…

Young Red Fox

Young Red Fox

We have a new visitor to the garden – a young red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Unlike the manky, hairy old fox I chased out the other week, this one seems quite naive and obviously hasn’t been through a hunting season yet. Recently, Slovakia announced open season on all foxes and raccoon dogs in an attempt to curb their population growth. While foxes are cute, they are the number one cause of rabies in the area.

How to sneak up on a Red deer herd

How to sneak up on a Red deer herd

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that if the wind is blowing towards you, you can get extremely close to many animals without them noticing – especially if the wind is noisy. And if you walk up behind them whilst they’re grazing.  Last night on our evening walk there were Red and Roe deer everywhere, both in herds and alone. It was amazing just how many ran across in front of us. One Roe buck stepped out onto the abandoned road, looked at us and then dashed back into the bush. He then proceeded to spend the next 5 minutes barking at us from behind cover. Luckily, he scared us away 🙂

One particularly annoying thing was that upon returning to the house we saw a Pine Marten sitting on a log in the neighbours yard. By the time I had zoomed the camera in on it it had disappeared. They’re like ghosts. I even had a trail cam set up in my attic all night to capture them with photo and video but discovered this morning that while it had been set off many times, I’d had it focused on a wall rather than down the length of the attic. I’ll try again this evening perhaps.

Me and my son, Brano

Me and my son, Brano

On Sunday, my son Brano and my brother and his girlfriend travelled to the High Tatra Mountains to go on a hike. The weather was insanely hot – about 36 degrees Celsius, and the track was basically loose rocks all the way. Extremely hard going. It was a long day with lots of driving but was well worth it. The area is beautiful – the Tatra Mountains are the highest point of the entire Carpathian range and the geography is Alpine.

Despite bringing lots of fluids we sweated profusely. Luckily, a lot of the hike was through dense forest which shaded us a bit. The steep trail follows a fast white water creek. We encountered some brown bear scat on the track at one point, which really reminded us where we were and what might be lurking behind the trees…

We rounded the adventure off with a meal at Humno Restaurant in Tatranska Lomnica. It’s an expensive place but pretty cool – they’ve got a huge snow cat sticking out of one wall and a Cadillac Espanade hanging upside down from the ceiling. The waitresses are pretty and speak English and the atmosphere is very friendly.

It was good to spend some quality time with my son.

Fallow deer buck

Fallow deer buck

This was a particularly friendly Fallow deer (Dama dama) buck we encountered as an attraction at an unusual location. The owners of a former brothel, in quite a remote village,, obviously decided to change their ‘theme’ and keep Fallow deer in order to attract visitors. Unfortunately, their business plan doesn’t seem to be working as, like us, people just stop, take photos and then leave. The owner was annoyed that we didn’t want drinks.

I had to wipe deer saliva from my camera lens after this as the young buck decided to give it a good licking. Poor thing was being terrorized by horseflies as well.