Lake Sanabria on a stormy day in April. This is the largest glacial lake in Spain formed during the last Ice Age though the local legend claims a more colourful origin.
On a cold wintery day, a man arrived at the village of Valverde de Lucerna. He was starving and asked for something to eat, but the menfolk told him to be gone. They did not want his kind in their village. Some women baking bread though took pity on him and gave a few crusts. He bade the women to take to the hills, and then he took his staff and drove into the ground commanding water to rise from the hole. Out it gushed, flooding the village and drowning all the men. The waters continued to rise until the lake was formed. All that remained of the village was the roof tip of the bakery, which now forms the little island in the centre of the lake.
Fantastic photo taken by a camera trap somewhere in Asturias by the wildlife group FAPAS. There are now some 180 brown bears in the Cantabrian mountains (Cantabria, Castilla y León and above all Asturias), triple the figure 20 years ago.
Seven wild European bison (bisonte in Spanish) have been released into a 20 hectare enclosure in Palencia as part of a long-term plan to possibly reintroduce the animal to the Iberian Peninsula after an absence of 900 years. Bisons were once common in the deciduous and pine forests of northern Spain as is shown by the wonderful cave paintings of Altamira, and they probably survived in Navarra until the 12th century when they were hunted to extinction. It is also speculated that bison undertook winter migrations from the north to the south of Spain, and that the ancient transhumance sheep paths followed these routes, though other studies suggest the bison was only ever present in the north (here).
The five females and two males brought from Poland do not yet form part of a real reintroduction project, but rather a captive breeding programme under the auspices of the World Conservation Union partly with the idea of stimulating the local economy through tourism in a depressed region. Bison watching, hunting, meat and their role in reducing the risk of forest fires by eating undergrowth have all been cited as possible beniefts. According to Fernando Morán, the vet in charge of the project, the WCU has chosen Spain because of the large areas of uninhabited land in comparison with other European countries. Some 3,000 European bison survive in semi-wild conditions in Poland and other Eastern European countries, where they are discouraged from migrating by artificial feeding. Numbers are kept down by selective culling. Wolves, which are present in Palencia, seem only occasionally take them.
Altamira (The bisons of Altamira have become an essential element in Spanish iconography like Velazquez’s Meninas and the roadside Toros of Osborne. A popular brand of cigarettes (bisonte) even sports a picture of one of the bisons on its packet.)
Somewhere on the River Pisuerga, Valladolid, in spring. By Tito Afredo on Flickr.
The Spanish phrase “aprovechando que el Pisuerga pasa por Valladolid” (“And now since Pisuerga crosses Valladolid,…”) is a popular way to point or acknowledge a non sequitur since the river has no bearing with the following “consequence”.
The great Spanish author Miguel Delibes died on Friday 12 March. His love of the rural life and landscape of Castilla and hunting surfaced repeatedly in his books.
He won the Spanish-speaking world’s top literary award, the Premio Cervantes in 1993, along with the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras, and was a member of the Spanish Royal Academy. The Cervantes Institute said Delibes’ passion for the countryside — and hunting — had given him a true feel for the decline of rural life and the fragility of the environment. “It is not going too far to say that this hunter who writes measures his passions with a shotgun resting on his shoulder, and in this he finds joy, anxieties and even fineness of spirit,” the institute said in a biography of Delibes.
TP notes on the forum
“The recurring theme of his works was social injustice and the contrast between rural life and modernity. His ability to portray the harshness of rural life in Castilla and the language of its people was amazing. Many of his novels deal with hunting – deeply rooted in Castilla – and his famous essay justifying his love of hunting, “La caza: mi punto de vista” , and in which he vehemently criticises the mass slaughter of captive pieces, which will undoubtedly strike a chord among some iberianatureforumers, expresses very well the sentiment of many people, hunters and critics alike.”
March 10th, 2010
The Natural Park Laguna Negra and the Urbion Glacial Circuit is to be declared Soria’s second Natural Park. The park will cover a total of 4617 hectares of land and include two villages (Vinuesa and Duruelo de la Sierra). The area includes the glacial lake of Laguna Negra, which inspired Antonio Machado, and also includes the source of the Duero. Soria’s other Natural Park in Soria is the Canyon Rio Lobos, which was declared in 1985. More on the forum
March 10th, 2010
I’ve just come across Memorias de Burgos, an excellent blog about the secret corners of the province with its abandoned villages and abbeys, oil fields and salt workings, forgotten history and stunning nature. Above photo Portillo de Canta el Gallo from the site.
It’s inspired me to add The Ayoluengo petrol field and Rioseco Abbey to the Places in Spain section.
These methods were justified by the needs of the times, but unfortunately wolves, today without justification, are still being illegally killed in their hundreds in Spain. This week for instance La Crónica Verde reports here on two wolves found snared in Anta de Rioconejos, Zamora. Their yelping alerted local people to their rescue.
It’s a worldwide phenomenon – whether bears investigating trash cans in the US, coyotes roaming New York, or boars exploring Barcelona – wildlife and human territories are increasingly overlapping. Near Vallvidrera railway station, on the outskirts of Barcelona, a mother boar availed herself of the contents of a litter bin in broad daylight. While two […]