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July 4, 2008 Trip to the Lake, cont

Happy 4th of July! I'm celebrating it here in SouqTown, where the sky is an implausible shade of coral-pink that perfectly matches the coral-pink buildings lining downtown. I'd take a picture, but I think this is something that a camera can't capture.

But what cameras can do...

Here are more pictures from my trip to the lake, which I didn't have time to upload during my last trip into town. And the accompanying text, which I opted not to post last time because it only makes sense with the pix. Enjoy!

...Speaking of faults and folds, check this out:

It’s not actually an anticline – though it looks like one! – it’s just eroded, vertically dipping beds. Which is geonerd speak for “Look, the whole mountain got tipped over! Wowsers!”

And lest you think I forgot the living parts of the environment, here are some flora and fauna for you:

…and before you point out how fuzzy the bird pictures are, bear in mind that these are blown up a TON. Turns out birds, unlike flowers and rocks, fly away when you try to take their picture. Even damselflies will pose demurely. See?

Well, songbirds fly away. (So these pictures - of “Yellow Wagtails”, I do believe - were taken at *quite* a distance.) Water birds just swim away. I saw at least 50 coots (I counted that many at once, and there were probably at least twice that number in the lake) but they were so far away that my pictures of them are just little fuzzy black smudges. By the way, I looked them up, and their local name is Tafulust n waman. That sounds nice, until you know that it translates as “Chicken of the water”. Turns out that’s the name for all ducks; these guys don’t appear to get their own designation.
The coots clustered at the eastern end of the lake. The southern shore was marked by muddy, marshy gentle slopes and lots of evaporites. The water level appears to have dropped by a foot or so, and given how gentle the slope is, that makes for 10-15 feet of salt-rimed stones. The northern shore has sharper relief, more like a cutbank. (Do lakes have cutbanks? I thought only streams do. But maybe if that’s where an inlet rushes in, during snowmelt?) I climbed over two large inlets, at least…

Oh, and my favorite local fauna:

I found him (and several siblings) in a sea of reeds that I’d stumbled into. I blundered through for a while before realizing that I was probably crushing the nests of all the coots I’d been admiring, at which point I took the shortest route out, instead of attempting to continue to follow the shoreline. I found their mom about half a kilometer away, apparently foraging for food.

My last big photo stop was the abrabilo* festival in the poplars. Some Moroccans I met on the path said that they were tabrabilot, which means that they’re either small or female. (Yes, they’re interchangeable concepts in Tamazight conjugation.) I’ve never heard of a tree that gets pollinated by moths, but that’s what looked to be happening: hundreds, maybe thousands, of small white (t)abribilo(t) were fluttering in and around a stand of poplar trees. I tried to photograph some in motion (left), but just got blurs. When I tried to get close enough for a good picture, they flew away. So…

* The word is generally translated as “butterfly”, but these were moths. Tamazight doesn’t draw a distinction between butterflies and moths. For that matter, I don’t know what the difference is. These guys, though, were all white, with overlapping wings and big fuzzy bodies. They *looked* like moths.

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