Archive for September, 2015

Habitat panoramas of alpine aquatic environments for the LIFE Project Limno-Pirineus: a triple challenge.

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized

Going out into the field – be it climbing a mountain, heading off into a forest or diving in a lake – and impregnating myself with the knowledge gleaned from others is the part of my work creating habitat panoramas that I most enjoy. Taking the required photos is always a challenge as I need a vast number of images to be able to create a collage that is both detailed and believable.

In this case, the challenge was multiple. First of all, we had to climb up to the lakes of Colomers in the heart of the Aigüestortes National Park, in the high Pyrenees, fully laden with photographic equipment, thick Neophron suits, goggles, snorkels, weights, etc., and then dive into its glacial waters – with all the required permits, I may add! My guide was the ecologist Marc Ventura, Director of the LIFE Project Life Limno-Pirineus, from the Blanes Advanced Study Centre belonging to the Spanish National Research Council – CSIC, not only an expert limnologist but also a great mountaineer who sometimes forgets that we’re not all in such good form as he is …. Nevertheless, I reached the lake and managed to hide my laboured breathing as I followed in his tracks.

Once in the cold water of the lake at over 2,000 m, the main difficulty was to keep afloat at just the right height so as to not disturb the sediment on the lake bottom. I was able to photograph the submerged and emerged landscapes, populated by numerous singular plants and animals, many of which float on the surface.

A further challenge was to photograph in detail and then reproduce in a satisfactory way two very special environments: mires and calcareous springs. These two habitats are populated by small, often almost imperceptibly small plants that thrive in specialised microhabitats with very specific levels of humidity and relief features, that it was my job to reproduce. Also with us was Empar Carrillo, an eminent botanist, who took us to the calcareous springs of El Pla de Beret and the mires in the Vall de Molleres in the Vall d’Aran and Alta Ribagorça, respectively.

All in all, I’ve produced four great panoramas of these aquatic Pyrenean habitats (lakes, rivers, mires i calcareous springs ),for use in displays, leaflets, pedagogical material and in the (highly recommendable!) website of the LIFE Project Limno-Pirineus. It was a pleasure to be able to collaborate with the project, which is already having  an obvious positive impact  on these fragile upland ecosystems, knowledge of which will filter down into the local population and help perpetuate this positive conservation dynamic. Congratulations to all those who made it possible.

Mini-field guide: 125 Catalan birds you should know

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized

guia Oryx

I must admit that this guide is one of the most gratifying results of my work — as pleasing or even more so than illustrating a scientifically rigorous, dense, lavish, prestigious magna obra that will be sold around the world.

You have here a small – albeit that unfolded it measures almost 1 m – pamphlet (eight ‘faces’ in all) that describes 125 Catalan birds that you ‘should’ get to know. A light-weight, pocket-sized, attractive, cheap and appealing guide that everyone can afford. I’m looking forward to seeing kids and adults alike using this ‘small but large’ guide to take their first steps as birdwatchers and as naturalists in general. Here are a few examples of some pages:

  • Guia_Oryx_ocell_catalunya_toni_llobet1
  • Guia_Oryx_ocell_catalunya_toni_llobet2
  • Guia_Oryx_ocell_catalunya_toni_llobet3
  • Guia_Oryx_ocell_catalunya_toni_llobet5
  • Guia_Oryx_ocell_catalunya_toni_llobet4

Along with friend and designer Lluc Julià. whose designs are so precise and elegant, we had the idea of this guide a number of years ago. But it wasn’t until another friend, Francesc Kirchner, from ORYX, the ‘nature-lover’s shop’ in Barcelona, offered to publish it that it has seen the light of day. Our miniguide also forms part of a beginner’s birdwatching kit (guide+binoculars+notebook+bag) that was produced by ORYX to mark the holding of the second Delta Birding Festival and the emission of the birdwatching TV programme “Tocats de l’ala”, on Catalan TV3. It can also be bought separately for just 5 €.

We trust that this miniguide will be successful and that we can begin to produce dozens of such guides. Indeed, we already have a number of other guides half-finished, having worked in collaboration with experts in the choice of species and the writing of the texts. Can you imagine how great it would be to have guides to the wild mushrooms, grasshoppers and crickets, orchids, butterflies, snails, gastropods, reptiles or vegetables of Catalonia? We can!


Migratory fish – Life MIGRATOEBRE: a poster designed with the family

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized


Just occasionally I’m lucky enough to be able to share my fieldwork with my family — and in this case we took things to an extreme.

I had been commissioned to produce a panorama with a photographic background of the subaquatic environments of the lower reaches of the river Ebro, which would depict the four species of threatened (or even extinct!) migratory fish that are the object of the LIFE Project MigratoEbre.

We chose a site just downstream from the weir at Xerta, a stretch of river with clear calm water, splendid underwater vegetation, good access and, most importantly, the weir itself, which was to appear in the background to the poster as an example of an obstacle that, happily in this case, fish can overcome thanks to its fish-ladder.

So the whole family went down to the Ebro. The small HEP station on the weir was designed and constructed by my dear father 15 years ago – what memories! With Valentina and the kids, we hired two canoes from Aiguadins (good people, good service) and whilst my mother – for she too was there! – waited on the riverbank, we paddled up the river to just under the weir. Uff! The current was strong, above all for those of us used to the rather gentler waters of our humble local river Fluvià. Once below the weir, we all jumped into the water with our goggles and snorkels to explore what resembled an underwater jungle, which tricked us into thinking for a minute that we were in fact in the Amazon! Exuberant 2-m-long pondweeds and watermilfoils dancing in the current, with small groups of chub, enormous mullets and colossal carps, swimming in-between … but sadly no sign of any of the four migrant species of fish that appear on the poster.

  • ebre_xerta_toni_llobet1
  • ebe_xerta_toni_llobet2
  • ebre_xerta_toni_llobet3

And then, back home and to work in the study and on the computer classifying the 300 photos – underwater and from the surface – I took to create the ‘ideal’ panorama, and to draw the fish in perfect perspective and with the right light to fit in with the background. Here you have the result, with details of the four target species:

  • riu_ebre_poster_migratoebre_life_toni_llobet
  • Acipenser_sturio_migratoebre_life_toni_llobet
  • Anguilla_anguilla_migratoebre_life_toni_llobet
  • alosa_fallax_migratoebre_life_toni_llobet
  • Petromizon_marinus_migratoebre_life_toni_llobet