My girlfriend and I arrived to volunteer at Undiscovered Montenegro for the 2020 season and obviously things have played out a little different than expected what with there being no actual guests for now! As a keen birder the bountiful birds certainly help compensate (Lake Skadar National Park has recorded over 270 species!) and they are completely oblivious to the current crisis. The villa and gardens here are nestled amongst a myriad of foliage and the cacophony of birdsong is never louder than now with the long, warm days and flowers coming into bloom. The nightingales have returned from Africa and seldom can you stand on the terrace without being serenaded with their fruity melodies. The scratchy song of Eastern subalpine warblers is ever-present as they flit around busily readying for the task of raising young. In the south-east of the UK, where I am from, the sighting of a Hawfinch would be an exciting occurrence but here it is quite common to see the black-and-white flash of their wings as they move through the treetops. By looking up you are rewarded with the aerial antics of house martins and red-rumped swallows and before long an alpine swift comes into view - dwarfing it’s smaller cousins with it’s half-metre wingspan. And this is all just from the villa and gardens! Lake Skadar itself offers a plethora of other rare and wonderful birds to discover. We managed to get out on the kayaks before total lockdown and the experience of floating gently through the reeds on a calm, sunny day while reed warblers sing from within and all around you pygmy cormorants, little and great crested grebes surface and disappear again is hard to put into words. If that wasn’t enough then the pièce de résistance is a group of Dalmatian
My girlfriend and I arrived to volunteer at Undiscovered Montenegro for the 2020 season and obviously things have played out a little different than expected what with there being no actual guests for now! As a keen birder the bountiful birds certainly help compensate (Lake Skadar National Park has recorded over 270 species!) and they
April is usually an extremely busy time for us at UM. We'd normally be knee-deep in enquiries and bookings, as well as working over-time to get our activity base, Villa Miela, and our equipment ready for our first week of guests. Lake Skadar and the surrounding valleys are looking gorgeous....but this year we won't be sharing the Easter break or our gorgeous grounds with anyone other than ourselves. No, this year we have curfews, partial lockdowns limiting us to the municipality we live in, traffic on the lake has been suspended and Emma still has a week of self-isolation to go following her 14 days in quarantine which means she isn't allowed to leave our property. I can go and walk our dog Coco for an hour a day and pop down to the local supermarket, but that's about it. For the foreseeable future we are more or less limited to the borders of our land. Just as well, then, that we're marooned in a quite stunning spot! We have cherry, plum and quince blossom on our trees, a swimming pool that might soon be warm enough to use (edit, our kids jumped in yesterday!) and with the spring season cancelled and summer looking like it may go the same way, to keep our spirits up we're using this pause to get stuck into some proper sustainable “projects". Almost every off-season since we started living at Lake Skadar a decade ago, we've had some sort of ambitious project going on at Villa Miela as we've attempted to improve the set up for our hosted activity holidays - (I might recount some of them in future blog posts). Why should 2020 be any different, especially as we now appear to have rather more time on our hands than we had anticipated?
April is usually an extremely busy time for us at UM. We’d normally be knee-deep in enquiries and bookings, as well as working over-time to get our activity base, Villa Miela, and our equipment ready for our first week of guests. Lake Skadar and the surrounding valleys are looking gorgeous….but this year we won’t be
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