Zezere Glacial Valley, Serra da Estrela, Portugal by Marshall Black

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Picture Story

In the woods at the top of the Zezere Glacial valley there had been mist and low cloud all morning. Finally I found a composition among the trees and boulders, but the mist, although interesting, left that extra something missing from the scene. Suddenly the mist above parted slightly and the sun peeked through for a few seconds shining into the birch leaves behind the lichen covered pines. I took a few frames and started to consider looking for an alternative composition as the mist rolled back and stole the light. That incredible light would not return that day, and I had to be satisfied with what I had.

Serra da Estrela Natural Park contains the highest mainland mountain in Portugal and provides many different areas to explore with the camera. The week around 24th November seems to be the time of year that the forested slopes around the central main town of Manteigas have glorious autumn colours when the beech and sweet chestnut trees turn golden, my portrait image was taken in the woodland at this time. If your timing is right you will be rewarded with scenes covering 360 degress in every direction. The town is a good base for exploring the area, but having a car will mean you can explore more, the local bus transport being a little patchy. There are a couple of good restaurants in the town, and the park headquarters and tourist office (Turismo) will provide you with information on different places to visit. The high plateaus and river valley are designated a Ramsar Wetland site.

In early spring it is possible to find hundreds of tiny petticoat daffodils among remaining patches of snow near the summit of Torre, and the rare mountain wall lizard seems quite easy to find.


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