Catalonia

Articles in ‘Catalonia’

The false mountains of Montserrat by Picasso

December 9th, 2016

Picasso The false mountains of Montserrat

The false mountains of Montserrat in Ciutadella Park, Barcelona, Pablo Picasso, 1895-1896.

Albera cows

December 1st, 2016

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Just 400-odd Albera cows survive, living semi-feral and calving in the wild in the Serra de l’Albera in the Catalan Pyrenees. They are a short, stocky breed now protected by law and employed by the Catalan government to graze the undergrowth and reduce fire risk.

Roger Deakin in the Albera

November 26th, 2016

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Roger Deakin wrote about the Albera mountains in his wonderful Wildwood a journey around the woodlands of Britain and the world, published in 2006 just before his death.

Autumn comes late to the wooded southerly slopes of the Spanish Pyrenees. The mountains are a natural climatic boundary between the rest of Europe to the north and the African Sahara to the south. My friend Andrew Sanders and I have climbed through the leafy fireworks of mixed beech, oak, maple, chestnut and hazel woods in a bright-blue morning up a steep track from Cantallops, an agricultural village in the foothills, to Requesens, a hamlet that is really a long farmhouse, extended down the generations, with a small bar-cum-restaurant, the Cantina, in one end.

Coming in sight of the place, we enter the circle of a hillside wood pasture of cork oaks. A dozen white geese graze outside a two-storey wooden shed with a worn staircase visible inside. Some of the oaks are deep ox-blood red where the sock of cork has recently been peeled, the year’s last two digits painted white on the tree as a reminder of its next date, in just under a decade, with the cork-harvesters. The grass is well trodden and manured with crusty cowpats. This is the home pasture for the cattle now out browsing in the woods. Entering the level farmyard, we are greeted by four dogs. An old mongrel bitch ambles over gently. The others, barking half heartedly, are chained beneath a big horse chestnut. A pointer slinks away back into the shadow of a firewood store under the house. One half of the old stone building is a magnificent ruin like a monastery, in the shade of a giant plane tree and a small lawn above the rocky ramparts looking south for miles across the hazy Catalan hills all the way to the sea.

I took the photo in early November on the same route he took.

Asian predatory wasp in Spain

November 5th, 2013

Beekeepers and fruit orchard growers in Spain are facing the serious threat of Asian predatory wasp (vespa velutina nigritorax), which has spread from France. The species was first detected in the Basque Country three years ago from where it has spread to Castilla y León, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia . In 2013 it was found in La Garrotxa (Girona) in Catalonia having spread from a separate French population. Honeybees make up some 80’% of the wasps diet. Even more worryingly, the wasps also pose a considerable risk to biodiversity in Spain as  many plants are dependent on honeybees for pollination. As far as humans are concerned, people have been hospitalised in France after suffering anaphylactic shock as a result of multiple stings.

More here from El País

Hundreds of specimens of Vespa velutina, a species of hornet known popularly as “the Asian predatory wasp” or “the Asian hornet,” were found last month in the Vall d’en Bas, a valley in the Catalan municipality of La Garrotxa. The find has sent all kinds of alarms ringing among rural officials and local beekeepers, who know time is running out: if the nest is not found and destroyed by November, the females growing within will fly out and start their own colonies elsewhere in the region.

“Before the fall is out, the more than 200 wasp mothers now germinating inside the nest will seek new locations to create new hideouts and hibernate,” explains Josep Vilar, chief of the rural agents of La Garrotxa. Each female can produce over 12,000 offspring.

Young horseshoe whipsnake

November 4th, 2013

We came on this very young horseshoe whipsnake this morning on the stone steps of Guadi’s Bodega Güell in El Garraf built as a winery for the slave-enriched Catalan industrialist Güell. Albert, our toddler, was very excited by his first snake. Not venomous but this one was certainly feisty.

Pyrenean bear cubs

November 3rd, 2013

Image taken by camera trap of female bear with two cubs born this summer in the Vall d’Aran in the Catalan Pyrenees. The adult bear is called Hvala, a Slovenian bear released in the Pyrenees in 2008. Source: cronicaverde

Bat house in Ebro Delta

October 23rd, 2013

bat house

Huge bat house in the Ebro Delta, an ideal habitat for bats with plentiful food but for the absense of shelters. It was built in parts as a concerted atttempt to boost bat numbers in the Delta as a bioagent. The bat house is probably the largest in Europe, Photo by Mon. Source

Wolves expanding in Catalonia

April 5th, 2011

The wolf appears to have firmly returned to Catalonia after an absence of more than 70 years. In the last few years a dozen  or so animals have been gradually arriving from France (see below) and settled in the Pyrenees, and have even reached as far south as the Vallés Oriental. The news  was released in the latest issue of the Spanish wildlife journal Quercus which reports the presence of up to 13 different individuals, some identified only once and others that appear and disappear depending on the  year.  However, so far all animals have been males, except for a female detected in 2008. This  is a common pattern, as young males tend to be the first to disperse, which explains in part why so far there is no evidence of breeding in Catalonia.The wolves have been detected in across an area of some 1,400 square kilometers in the Cadi mountains and other surrounding mountain ranges in Alt Urgell, Cerdanya, Alt Solsonès, and Berguedà. Unsurprisingly, the animal’s return has revived the traditional conflict with farmers and in the early years there was an average annual loss of about 80 head of livestock, although in some years more than 200 were lost. These attacks on livestock, for which farmers are compensated, have declined dramatically following various protective measures: just 3 sheep were lost in 2009 and 10 in 2010. ABC + Photo from here

 

How long before they reach Barcelona’s Collserola I wonder.

I wrote this last year

Tests have shown that this new influx of wolves in Catalonia is genetically Italian in origin, forming part of an expansion over a number generations out from the Apennines. The Apennine population began to expand in several directions from the early 1990’s. It moved north into the Italian and Swiss Alps; north-east into the French Alps and Lyon, and east towards the Pyrenees, reaching the Maritime Alps near Nice by 1996, Saboya by 1998. An individual was detected between Areja and French Cerdenya by August 1998 in the Madres Massif, just to the north of Canigó, and finally by 2004 into the Cadí range. The last Catalan wolf was shot in Horta de Sant Joan, in Tarragona in 1929, though the animal is thought to have disappeared from the Sierra de Cadí more than 100 years ago

Vultures on the roads

April 5th, 2011

Vultures in Catalonia are being increasingly spotted on the roads in search of roadkill, because of the paucity of their traditional sources of dead livestock: The EU prohibuts abandoning animal cacrasses because of mad cow’s disease. The above photo from La Vanguardia is along the N-230 between Lleida and Val d’Aran.

Lammergeyer eating a bone

March 30th, 2011


Nice, short video of a lammergeyer (bearded vulture – Gypaetus barbatus) swallowing a bone.  The images were  recorded in Tremp, in the Pyrenees at  “La Terret” observatory. Sent to me by recercaenaccio.cat.