Thursday 8 May 2014

Faja Grande webcam

A webcam overlooking Faja Grande started today - view it here

It must be situated near the church in Ponta da Faja so that the view is looking south to FG about a mile (1.5km) away:-

X marks the spot of our house

There's also a new webcam over Santa Cruz - in the screen grab below, note the SATA aeroplane taking off (boxed red) and Flores' satellite island of Corvo on the horizon with its distinctive hat of cloud (yellow)

The view is looking generally north east over the  town and runway thus:-

These two new webcams are in addition to the one that's been around for a few years over the harbour at Lajes

Library picture from 2012

All these webcams tend to promote a bit of an unhealthy tendency at 5RdA towards obsessing about arrivals and departures - especially when you couple them with the Marine Traffic and Flight Radar websites allowing you to track the progress of the ship or plane you're interested in when outwith the watchful eye of the webcam. It's of importance to us when we're expecting guests or awaiting deliveries from the continent on the fortnightly ship.

Thus, for example, tonight, we're expecting a batch of stuff from IKEA and a new exhaust for the car on the ship due to arrive tomorrow morning and, as I type this, I can verify that the good ship M/S Sete Cidades is on schedule (not always to be taken for granted) sailing from Pico:-

In the air (important for arriving and departing guests), here's Flight TP1828 from Terceira to Lisbon on Flight Radar earlier:-

FR doesn't seem to pick up the small inter-island planes but flights to and from Ponta Delgada can be cross-referenced to the PDL webcam

This can all get pretty absorbing, I can tell you (especially if you go to the 3D cockpit view on Flight Radar). It's just as well I'm retired and have enough time to keep an eye on all this - it's not safe for work.

They've got Google Streetview on Sao Miguel and Terceira now and it won't belong before, if you've ever fancied visiting the Azores, you won't need to bother! There's no such thing as a remote island anymore. (Note to self to not scratch arse on way down to shop to get bread in case caught by Google car in coming months.)

Sunday 4 May 2014

Whale watching

That's the view from our sitting room window and one of the most frequently asked questions is "Do you ever see whales?"

Nope, never is the answer to that so imagine my surprise when I was giving Fernando a lift from Ponta the other day and he said excitedly "Viste a baleia?" (Have you seen the whale?)

"O que? No mar?" (What? In the sea?) I replied, idiotically. "Não, no ar!" (No, in the air!) retorted Fernando - it was his little joke.

Turned out, however, that my response was not entirely moronic as the whale in question was, in fact, a dead one on the beach. Nevertheless, it's an event which has caused as much excitement in Faja Grande as if the remains of MH370 had been washed up on our shores.

Sorry for that rather long distance shot but I didn't want to go that close as I've seen what can happen to dead whales (skip to 00.50):-

In fact, the blob in the photo above was only the forward section of the whale - it's stern half had broken off and was grounded a few hundred yards along the shore (the white thing in the photo below).

The absence of smell or pecking sea birds suggested the thing had already been dead for quite a long time before it washed up on Flores. Fernando reckoned it to be a cachalote - sperm whale.

In times past, a dead whale was reckoned a boon to the locals in terms of food and fuel resources. So much so that, in Scotland, a beached whale is legally the property of the Crown - a prize to be granted to a favoured subject. Nowadays, of course, they're perceived as health and safety hazards prompting some local authorities to suggest that Her Majesty may care to get her galoshes on and deal with her property personally rather than burden the rate payers. Tsk! Some people just olhar cavalos de presente na boca!

Be all that as it may, the foregoing represents the sum and substance of my whale watching experience on this island to date.