Sunday, September 02, 2007

2007 WSA Grand Jury Croatia (4)

Early this morning there was a lot of noise in the harbour. Boats were arriving and leaving, delivering goods and putting off people. Irealise that it is Sunday and most likely a lot of people will arrive. In the meantime some big yachts and ferries arrive. In the meantime a new Polar Bear swimming club has been formed under chairmanship of Anya from Russia; she has been joined by Jan Bieringa and Latif Ladid from Luxembourg. Tomorrow I will join the club for energy boosters.

The Grand Jury is hosted on Brijuni, an archipelago of islands and a national park in front of the western coast of Istria; separated from the mainland by the Fazana Channel. It is located 6 km from Pula and covers an area of 36 sq km. Brijuni Islands comprise the following islands: Veli Brijun (Big Brijun, 5.6 sq km), Mali Brijun (Small Brijun, 1.1 sq km) and Vanga (0.18 sq km), as well as several islets (Sveti Marko, Gaz, Obiljak, Supin, Galija, Gruni, Pusti, Vrsar, Jerolim, Kotez) and reefs Kabula, Crnika and Stine.

In Brijuni harbour the Grand Jury is located in the Neptune-Istria Hotel. With a little help, nature has created a small paradise here, true harmony of flora and fauna, historical monuments and modern hotels. Brijuni offer shade in the rich evergreen vegetation; pheasants, deer and doe that roam freely all over the island; and the peace and quiet of the holm oak and hundred year old olive groves. The natural biological diversity was enriched by men's traditional husbandry. Veliki Brijun, the largest island of the archipelago, is cultivated into a harmonious landscape of meadows and parks, and along with the rich remnants of architectural heritage it also boasts preserved vegetation types typical for the western Istrian climate.

It is interesting to point out that on the islands there are some plant species that are among the endangered plant species of Istria [marine poppy, wild cucumber, some grass species], but on the islands they are quite widespread and develop freely. Because of the millennial presence of men on the archipelago of Brijuni, the animal world on the islands, especially Veliki Brijun, besides the autochthonous species, was enriched by many imported species that are not congenial to this habitat but got acclimated to it thanks to the almost ideal microclimatic conditions.

Nilgai or blue antelope were gift from India, from President Nehru in 1959. Kob or marsh antelope (Waterbuck) were a gift from Zambia in 1962 from Kenneth Kaunda, and Somalian sheep were a gift from Ethiopia in 1959. There are also Indian elephants Sony and Lanka, llamas from South America, zebras, Indian holy cows and autochthonous donkeys. With the exception of Sony and Lanka, all other animals roam free throughout Veli Brijun.

The autochthonous birds are quite well represented and Brijuni are also important seasonal habitats for northern bird species, as well as for many species of warblers, nightingales, blackbirds, chiffchaffs and other songbirds. In the crowns of pines we can find nests of sparrow hawks, goshawks and ommon buzzards. Of other predatory birds there are the marsh harriers and moor harriers. By the end of the summer many different bird species come to Saline on their way to the south, and already in August we can see widgeons, whistling ducks, diving ducks and swallow ducks. Of herons we can see the little egret, the common heron, the yellow-crowned night heron and the rook. The arrival of the great white egrets, the black storks and the bitterns indicates that this area is also important for such rare and endangered species, which here find their peace and enough quantities of food. There are also interesting geological-paleontological sites [dinosaur foot-prints, highly-spired gastropod shells, ripple marks from the Early Cretaceous Period, etc.] and archaeological sites worth seeing [St. Mary's Church from the 5th Century, Castrum site and Roman Villa in Verige Bay dating to 1st Century, and Hill-fort from the bronze age].

In Croatia you can see forests, mountains, plains, the sea and Karst without crossing more than a hundred kilometers. Our country extends from the furthest eastern edges of the Alps in the northwest to the Pannonian lowlands and the banks of the Danube in the east; its central region is covered by the Dinara mountain range, and its southern parts extend to the coast of the Adriatic Sea. In terms of International law, traditional heritage reaches back to Middle Age Princedom (791-924 A.D.) and Kingdom (925-1102) to its current standing as the Republic of Croatia, declared on June 25, 1991.

BTW There is an official WSA blog and there will be daily photographs.

Blog Posting Number: 856

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