Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wildlife and hiking in the hills of Elba

A peninsula juts out behind Lucy, one of the views
from the top of Monte Orello.
Tuesday, April 15
After borrowing a book about Elba hiking and biking trail maps from Elisabetta, Lucy and I set off uphill in mid-morning to see if we could intersect with one of the trails. In about 10 minutes, we found markings that showed we were on the right track, and in another 25 minutes, we had reached the peak of Monte Orello, which is only 820 feet above sea level but still gave us great views of the island and surrounding waters in almost every direction.

Fragrant wild flowers bloomed all around us, attracting a plethora of butterflies and bees, while geckos skittered over the rocks to avoid us. We found a pond, fenced off for safety, and our presence also prompted numerous frogs to dive off the banks and swim out to the middle. We also encountered a porcupine, but he had been dead long enough to have nearly dried up, so all that was left was skin, bones and quills. We saw no large animals nor any people, but in many places the ground had been dug up by cinghiali, wild pigs, searching for tender roots.
The camera flash illuminates the first
room we entered in the WW2 bunkers.

At the highest levels, we found four old bunkers, remnants of World War 2. One had at least two rooms below. We’ll never know if there were more, because as we entered the second room, we disturbed some sleeping bats, and they swished out past our heads. One touched Lucy’s shoulders with his wingtips as he overtook her from behind, and at the very same time I heard a chorus of banshees shrieking—or possibly that was just Lucy, letting me know the bats were coming.
Lucy leaving the batty bunker much
more quickly than she entered it.
There were probably more bats still sleeping, but we decided to give them their privacy and leave the bunker tunnels. Instead we broke out our goodies and lay on top of a bunker, munching, talking, feeding ants and resting our heads on our backpacks. When we returned to the B&B, we read, relaxed and watched half of the movie The Next Three Days before realizing we didn’t like it. Not wanting to return to the nearby overpriced restaurant, the only one in the neighborhood, we made do with the food we had and just enjoyed our time together.

The second photo below is of the dead porcupine.


  1. What is that second picture in the wildlife/plant sequence? The brown thing?

  2. Reminds me of exploring Fort Worden in Port Townsend. A little spooky but you just have to do it!


  3. The brown thing is the dead porcupine. For some reason, it was draped over a small stump.

  4. What fun - looks beautiful - hillarious job capturing Lucy on the run!


Comments welcome.