A good candidate to the oldest tree in Spain is a yew named tejo de Barondillo in the Sierra de Guadarrama, Northeast Madrid. This tree germinated around the year 500 CE ± 300, making it around 1500 ± 300 years old, though other estimates put it as old as 2000 years. More details here and here
July 8th, 2010
Environmentalists battling to save a popular green ridge in old Madrid depicted in Francisco de Goya’s painting La Pradera de San Isidro have won a reprieve from development. Read Goya’s hill saved from developers (The Independent)
Goya was one of the first landcape painters. He had other motives than depicting pretty scapes. Here below Attack on a Coach Asalto de la diligencia (1787 and 1783 below)
From Classical connections – commentary and critique “Goya (1746-1828) undermines faith in order, showing instead the isolated forest where disorder reigns: travelers plead for their lives to murderous but indifferent bandits whose ruthlessness is more a reflection of nature than inherently cruel. The dead bodies of coachmen bleeding away to senselessness are no deterrent to further savagery. Goya does not predict the outcome of this tragedy, rather invites viewers to speculate in clinical abstraction about the amoral motives of robbers and the plight of travellers. As the first of two similar scenes of robbers attacking carriages, the other a smaller canvas (43 x 32 cm) in 1793 set in a rocky landscape and now in Madrid, the scene “present a vision of Man’s helplessness before the forces of nature or human wickedness…” Goya’s pitiful surviving travelers have no recourse surrounded only by trees who seem to not hear the screams or last prayers any more than the musket shots and curses. Goya is not glorfying such attacks, only recording the abstract threat of rampant chaos to any civilization foolish enough to think it is safe. ”
The annual protest calling for the protection of the Cañadas Reales, the traditional grazing routes, brought 1,000 sheep to the Spanish capital on Sunday. Some of Madrid’s streets are still part of the cañada system, including La Castellana, and these sheep drives across the modern city is a reminder of the old practice. The cañadas are, in theory at least, legally protected from occupation and barring, but many of these routes have been devoured by property speculation.
This year, alongside farmers from across Spain shepherds from 40 countries took part, including Mongolia, India, Kenya and Mali. They have come to Spain to take part in the The World Gathering of Nomads and Transhumant Herders, which is meeting in Segovia this September, 8th – 16th
The Guardian noted “The environment ministry has warned that one-third of Spain risks being turned into desert because of over-grazing, modern farming techniques and property development….They came with a universal message – that their land and livelihoods are in the hands of governments and developers intent on modernisation at any cost. The farmers argue that as populations become more sedentary and pastoral farming dies out, so does the land, causing desertification and dwindling food supplies”.
This video poetically tells the story of a bear’s claw nailed to a church in the village of Navacepeda de Tormes in the Sierra de Gredos. The old people say a man had been attacked by a bear and had defended himself with scythe. Bears became extinct in Gredos at some point in the 16th century. Kindly sent to me by Claire of Gredosvivo, bird watching tours in central-western Spain. The video was researched and made by Enrique Sacristán. Also available in Spanish.
Another video from Forestman from TV Madrid. 30 minutes on the natural history of the Madrid region in September, but while we marvel at the wild corners just a few kilometres from the Spanish capital, the same authorities which run this TV channel are responsible for the gross urban sprawl into the Sierra de Madrid, and most recently banning their own forest agents from inspecting private land in the region.
Forestman is back with this 30 minute-video on the harsh conditions of heat and drought in the natural areas of Madrid in August. August is a critical month for wildlife and flora in the Mediterranean.
Derek of the forum has sent me this photo of one of this year’s batch of scops owl chicks from his hideout somewhere in the Sierra de Madrid. He notes “I’m pretty certain from past clutches that although this is the biggest of the three scoplets a first-hatched fourth had already flown”
This one was the last to leave the nest, much later than other years, perhaps because of the mild temperatures this July in Spain. Read more about Derek’s scops owls here.
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 […]