• Dirk

From heat to hail

Ah, fieldwork, always getting you close to nature and the environment. This week our Austrian partners, experts in socio-ecology, visited the Pyrenees to get a better idea of the study region and the people living here. So, what do you do with extra hands and backs ready to help? Well, you bring them to a nice mountain setting, let them take part of the equipment you usually carry yourself and let them participate in sampling a range of different water and biotic samples. You also insist that they take at least 2 liters of water, even so it is heavy.

So far so good, we started off fat 29°C to get to the port de Seix, the first liter of water already gone before reaching the mountain ridge, but a wonderful view. One more climb and then down to the lake for sampling. During sampling, we start to hear grumblings – a thunderstorm approaching. Hm, in the mountains not very nice. Before we find some shelter, rain starts and stops. Just a few drops, no problem. So, we continue our hike around the mountain with a nice view on the vallee de Bassies. Behind Pic Rouge and behind us we hear thunderstorms in about 5 km distance… funny feeling in the stomach, we slowly start the descent towards our next lake. Apart of a few rain drops, we were saved by the two mountains left and right of us from the thunderstorms. Down at the lake perfect temperature (22°C) to do more sampling, and the socio-ecologists, usually used to pen and paper only, did a great job in helping with the sampling.

Next day, getting up to 2000 meters in the Reserve de Neouvielle. Wonderful weather, some white clouds and fantastically clear views on lakes and mountains. Getting up to the Col de Madamete, meeting colleagues from ONCFS, down to the sampling lakes.

We found a good quantity of common frog tadpoles and after a couple of hours, we have sample several lakes and ponds. Perfect! Great teamwork and quite some fun. Some thunderstorms closing in, but passing aside of us. Not for too long, getting back up to Col de Madamete it starts hailing, hail of up 1cm in diameter. Temperature drop down to 18°C, wet clothes, shoes and backpacks, we a going back down in a path which now is a small brook. We skip the last lake we wanted to sample and are heading for the car. Still, a good day and then socio-ecologists got the experience of what fieldwork is all about. From heat to hail, from hot to cold, from low to high, from dry to wet. And that all in a short period of time.

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