There are quite a few lovely birds living year round (or in different seasons) in our region. The most beautiful – and most colorful of all European birds – European bee-eater (Merops Apiaster) lives in numerous colonies near our coast. One such colony is found in the heart of Ravni Kotari region and is well known for it’s size and importance.
The colony is fairly strong and numbers over 30 couples. The number of bee-eaters grows stronger year after year in Croatia but it is still a protected species with about 900 USD fines for each bird killed… The bee-eaters can do a lot of damage to bee colonies so beekeepers try to keep their beehives away. Apparently, one bee-eater can eat up to 250 bees a day and they first remove the sting by beating the bee against the hard surface. Besides bees, that are usually only 1% of their diet, bee-eaters also feed on wasps, dragonflies and numerous other winged insects. According to some reports, they feed on bees mostly during cloudy days…
European bee-eaters are a migratory species and spend April to October nesting in Europe and rest of the year they spend in tropical Africa.
Their nests are located in the sandy, easy to dig soil. The birds dig a long tunnel, in which they lay 5 -8- white eggs around the beginning of June. Both male and female care for the eggs for about three weeks.
The colony in Ravni kotari has dug hundreds of holes in the sandy soil but most of them are not in use. I still have to return before the end of their summer to see how strong the colony got over the summer. Pčelarica – how the bird is called locally – is one of the most beautiful birds and pure pleasure to photograph.
The wonderful and bucolic settings of Ravni Kotari are a perfect home for this wonderful bird!
There are numerous cool abandoned places in Croatia. From castles, lost villages to abandoned factories and military bases. There is something very special about them. An aura of times that are long (or not so long) gone, lives that were closely connected to those now abandoned walls…
One such place is a big, and once important, military base of Šepurine near Zadar.
But the base was proclaimed a “non-perspective” one in the mid 2000s and soon abandoned. Then the destruction started… The same scenario has been seen as early as 1995 when the hordes of scrap metal scavengers would invade abandoned objects and strip them of ALL metal. Usually, those are bands of gypsies but not only them… Trucks and trucks of scrap metal were taken from the base without any action taken by the police. Sad. It was our heritage and now it is just a monument to incompetence of our governments and local authorities. As many other places in the country. Progress of devastation can be seen at this Forum.
Only now, there are talks of investors being interested in 1 mil sq meters of prime real estate. Like so many areas in Croatia, it will probably take decades before something happens. And just see how beautiful the coast is right next to the airstrip:
But, there is something good about all this as we have an easy access to a beach here and folks have a GREAT place for car racing. The rest is just left to rot. The little that is left.
And then there are some graffiti on the walls of the remains of hangars.
But true art awaits once you enter the main restaurant for soldiers and the rest of the dormitories.
Apparently, an Austrian graffiti artist Perkup (or Perk Up) was here and left an amazing series of graffiti. You can find his work at the following Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/perk_up/
Combination of modern, abstract art and this very unique space was quite astonishing.
There were few other artists painting on the walls but Perkup did most of the work and it is just stunning.
The entire place has a very special aura in a hot summer afternoon and I cannot deny an abstract beauty in this total devastation.
But small details like a mess of old cups and trays brings you back to the days of serving in the army. I was serving in 1998 in Sinj and Šibenik and always thought of those days as complete waste of time. But that period was always quite emotional and even now some folks have fond memories of their friends whom they served with in JNA and Croatian army.
There are few other graffiti in the dormitory, but nothing had the power of Perkup’s work.
Even some forms of very basic devastation I found beautiful:
Šepurine are now just a place of ghosts. It could have been at least preserved as an important witness of the glory days of the 1995 or at least guarded better. It reminds me of the abandoned military tunnels on Solta and that curious art gallery I focused on a while back: Curious “gallery” on Šolta Island
But this way we can have it for ourselves. This way the only shadows can be ours.