Archive for February, 2007

Lynxes in Doñana

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Lynxes in Doñana need between 70 and 100 times more the present number of rabbits to survive. Lynx only present in 25% of National Park. 65% of Doñana lynxes live outside the Park, and none of these latter lynxes have survived for more than five years. Most, as you probaly know by now, have died on roads. The species could well disappear in 10-15 years in Doñana, one the world two remaining outposts. A new suplementary feeding programme is to try and tackle the issue. (CSIC) See also Iberian Lynx News

Short-toed eagle video

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

9-minute extract on the Short-toed eagle from the essential “El Hombre y la Tierra”, by Félix Rodrí­guez de la Fuente. As you will see in full gruesome detail , Águila culebrera its Spanish name (snake eagle) is well chosen. And as De la Fuente puts it in his indomitable style “even the lynx, the prince of the predators of the Mediterranean forest, stands in awe at such a feat” Remarkable.

Temperatures in Spain in 2070

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

11/02/2007 Temperatures set to rise 4-7ºc in summer Spain by 2070, one of the worst hit places in the world. The country’s geographical position makes it particularly vunerable to climate change.

More soon (El Pais)

Climate change in Asturias.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Future effects of climate change in Asturias.

  • 09/02/2007 More heat, less but more torrential rain Semi-tropical climate within several decades. Rise 1-2 in winter and 2-4 in summer. Less rain in all seasons apart from Autumn.
  • Agriculture not excessively affected though heat will allow warmer crops to thrive. The famous “huerta murciana” would move north to Asturias. Irrigation would be needed.
  • Livestock farming, an essential element of Asturian landscape, threatened by less grass growth.
  • Flooding along Asturian coast, especially in points such as Rí­a de Villaviciosa and Ribadesella. Disappearence of some dune systems
  • 17 new marine specieshave been detected in recent years in Asturian Cantabrian Sea. Sardines are moving north to British Isles
  • Lusher forests and benefits for bears. Bad news for much of the planet, but bear expert Roberto Hartasánchez of Fapas, often quoted by iberianature, is less catastrophic seeing acid rain as more urgent problem for forests in region. Bears, at least in Asturias, could benefit from milder climate. More here from La Voz de Asturias See also Climate change in Spain
  • Las Montañas del Lobo

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    27/01/07Las Montañas del Lobo: Another wolf documentary from Spanish TV. This one looks at outcast wolves – subordiante animals which are expelled from the group. It tells the tale of a pair, one old and one young, which strike out alone after being denied food. Stunning photography. 52 minutes. Watch. See also Wolves in Spain.

    Climate change in Catalonia

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    21/07/2007 Effects of climate change in Catalonia this winter

    • Jellyfish normally leave the coast in winter, but they’ve stayed this year because of the high temperatures of 15ºC (rather than 12-13). Winter rains which reduces the coastal sea’s salt level and pushes jellyfish out to deeper waters, have been sparse and so jellyfish have stayed. Banks of Pelagia noctiluca seen off Costa Brava. See also Spanish jellyfish

    • More and more hoopoes and storks are wintering in Catalonia instead of flying south. Previously rare Catalan species ( black-shouldered kite, thekla lark & orphean warbler) are increasingly turning up. More here (El Periodico) . See also Climate change in Spain

    • Update (23/01/06). Effects of climate change in Galicia: many butterflies, dragonflies and amphibians active. Oak tress keeping their leaves along coast (Voz de Galicia)

    Wallcreepers in Aragon

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    Wallcreepers in Los Mallos de Riglos

    21/01/2007 These photos of wallcreepers were sent to me by bird guide Johan Bos of Natura Aragon -don’t be put put off by the Dutch- he also runs trips for English people. Johan notes:

    Wallcreepers in spring or summer: a difficult species for every birdwatcher. Annoying even. They can be anywere high up in the mountains. But in winter: they are sometimes very easy to see, like at Los Mallos de Riglos in Aragon. Just scan the sunny walls and, especially, look in the shady parts: they’ll be there searching for slow insects and caterpillars hiding in the cracks. Wallcreepers migrate vertically: from the high mountains to the lower region, were the climate is much milder. Sometimes you’ll even find them on ancient churches. Taking pictures is always difficult because they move around so quickly. On the other hand: they aren’t particularly shy and are even used to climbers”. Thanks Johan, Nick. Note, in Spanish there known as trepariscos (crag-climbers, if you like)

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    Reintroduction of peregrine falcons in Barcelona

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    21/01/2007 I’ve been given the enjoyable job of translating this excellent and complete webpage on the reintroduction of peregrine falcons in Barcelona. At the moment it’s only in Catalan but Spanish and English versions will be available soon. Persecution drove the peregrine to extinction in the city in 1973, but a reintroduction programme has successfully brought the bird back using hacking, and there are now four pairs of peregrines in Barcelona (Montjuic cliffs, Mouth of River Besós, Santa Maria del Mar and Sagrada Familia). A couple of interesting snips adapted from the web:

    • During the hacking work in 1999 in the Church of Santa Maria del Pi, a pair of kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) nesting in the same bell tower brought food both to their chicks and the peregrine chicks inside the nest box. They almost always brought swifts (Apus apus) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus ). When the young peregrines left the nest box, they lived together with the young kestrels and could often be seen perched together. Update The person in charge of the programme had looked for suitable sites in the year in question, but hadn’t realised this one had kestrels nesting “next door”. When their own chicks had fledged – which was early, before the peregrines- the adult kestrels heard the peregrines and started to feed them – but they couldn’t see them as they were in a box. They dropped headless swifts and sparrows through the letterbox. They also continued to feed their young, now-flying birds. When the peregrines emerged both species seem to have got on fine, and were frequently seen perching together. The next year they repeated the hacking in the same site, but on this occasion the kestrels hatched and fledged later than the peregrines, and the adult kestrels did not feed the young peregrines.
      This phenomenon is somewhat surprising if we consider that both kestrels and peregrines are highly territorial species which zealously and aggressively protect their offspring. Moreover, peregrines will occasionally capture and eat kestrels.
    • Of particular interest in the diet of Barcelona ‘s peregrines is the presence of many migratory species, some as difficult to see as Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla), revealing the importance of the city as a point along the migratory routes of many species. Other species include scops owl, snipe, bar-tailed godwit and teal. A total of 29 different species of prey have been recorded since 1999, although pigeons make up 52% of their diet. Clearly, however Barcelona’s four pairs of peregrine make no dent on the city’s 180,000-strong army of doves. (Photos by Roger Sanmartà­ ) See also older piece on Kestrels and peregrine falcons in Barcelona

  • BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earth “Portugal: Species Wipe Out” Listen (30 minutes) Website
  • Barcelona parakeets

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    Parakeets in the barrio By Lucy BrzoskaÂ

    No one pays the ubiquitous Monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) much attention any more in Barcelona, unless they’re unlucky to have a raucous communal nest near their window. Once considered exotic, they’re now just another noisy element of city life. The Mitred parakeets (Aratinga mitrata) , on the other hand, still turn heads. Every Christmas, in the busy San Antonio neighbourhood, shoppers look up in surprise as squadrons of up to 40 of these large green and red birds descend into the streets. They’re attracted by the round black seeds of the Celtis australis (European nettle trees, almez), plentiful in this area and more resistant to pollution than the other Barcelona staple, the plane tree. This year’s seed crop is particularly plentiful. The parakeets settle in the trees and work along the branches, stripping them methodically. From below, you hear an incessant cracking as they open up the seeds to get at the kernels and litter the pavements and parked cars with husks. They’re handsome birds, deep green with red markings on the head, and larger than the Monk parakeet. While feeding they keep up a subdued squawking, which rises to a crescendo when on a signal every member of the group takes off, instantly falling into formation. In a few seconds they’re gone, the cacophony fading away. When they regroup, they generally head in the direction of Park Ciudadella, so I suspect that’s their base. Their annual visits to the neighbourhood give the impression that their city population is stable, unlike the more invasive Monk parakeet. By Lucy Brzoska. See also Natural History of Barcelona + Blue-fronted Amazon in Barcelona

    The man with the lynx waistcoat

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

    The man with the lynx waistcoat

    13/12/2006 An enjoyable morning in the Delta del Llobregat today with Juan Carlos Fernandez of Grupo de Aves Exóticas de Catalonia. There was too much water and so not much variety birdwise, though I’d never seen a short-toed eagle there before.

    Juan Carlos told me about his grandfather who lived in the Sierra Tejeda in Granada. When the Civil War ended, Juan José Fernández alias José Patillas (José Sideburns) and thousands others in the defeated Republican Army had to walk back home. It took him months. Life in post-war Andalusia was harsh, and hunger rife. As everywhere, the cats in his village were soon eaten – herein, I think, the Spanish expression dar gato por liebre (literally to give a cat for hare: to take somebody in). José kept his family of seven children alive by trapping in the hills with nets, snares and gin traps. He carried a wicker sack (capacho), with the catch stuffed inside, and a bunch of grapes on top to fool the Guardia Civil, for game was only for the rich. Most of the birds and rabbits he sold to buy oil, pulses and bread. Sometimes he’d trap a beech marten or a badger. The fur was sold and the meat eaten. One day he caught a lynx. After hanging it out in the moonlight, just as you have to do with a village cat, the family ate the animal they called gato clavo (clavo – sharp/nail – after its pointy ears). He took the skin to a fur merchant who offered him a good price -some 500 lynx skins were sold every year in Madrid until the 1940s- and said if he had two he could have made a waistcoat. Although poor and in need of money, a lynx-fur waistcoat was too much to resist, and why should only the rich have the best! He declined the offer and a few months later, he trapped another lynx, and wore the coat until he came to Catalonia in 1965. At first, the family lived in a shack along a railtrack in Barcelona. There were many other Andalusians, and also Hungarians. He worked as a bricklayer and when he had enough time and money he built a house in Terrassa. Old habits died hard. He used to take a young Juan Carlos, today a fervent defender of birdlife and an expert ornithologist, out netting for songbirds for the pot. One day they caught a badger. They ate badger stew that night and after they made shaving brushes from its hairs. Other times. Juan Carlos still nets birds, but as a ringer for ICO.See Iberian Lynx