Archive for July, 2007

Humpback whale beached in Huelva

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

A Humped back whale has been found beached in Palos de la Frontera, Huelva. The whale was eight metres long and was a young individual. Its undernourished appearance indicates that it may have become separated from its mother. It had numerous injuries probably from drift nets El Mundo. Stop press.The whale has unfortunately died. Humped-backed whales are considered rare off Andalusia’s coasts. 156 marine animals were found beached on Andalucia’s coasts in the first 6 months of 2007. (species list here)

In Spanish ballena yubarta

By the way, I’ve set up this page on whale watching in Spain


Mermaids in Spain

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

“They write from Galicia in Spain that some fishermen lately took on that coast a sort of monster, or merman, five feet and half long from it’s foot to its head, which was like that of a goat. It has a long beard and moustaches, and black skin somewhat hairy, a very long neck, short arms, and hand longer than they ought to be in proportion to the rest of the body: long fingers like those of a man, with nails like claws, very long toes, joined like the feet of a duck, and the heels furnished with fins resembling the winged feet with which painters represent Mercury. ”

From Scots Magazine 1739.

In Spanish a mermaid is a sirena. More Iberian knicknackery here

New lynx photos

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

The ex situ Iberian lynx conservation programme has some more lovely photos of this year’s cubs. Here

Full article on the Iberian lynx here on Iberianature

Hsieh Ch’ing kao on Spain and Portugal

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I enjoyed this piece by Hsieh Ch’ing kao on Spain and Portugal from the ever weird kalebeul. More here on his Hai-Lu (1783-1797) on Portugal here.

Spain “…is said to be north-northwest of Portugal and could be reached by sailing in that direction for about eight or nine days from Portugal [one of Hsieh’s mistakes in indicating directions.] The area of this country is larger than that of Portugal: the people are fierce and wicked. Catholicism is the main religion. Its products are gold, silver, copper, iron, wine, glass, and watches, etc. The silver dollars used in China are manufactured in this country. “

Mammals of the Picos de Europa

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Lisa of the iberianature forum has put together this great page on Picos de Europa mammals with some fantastic photos by Carlos Sanz. There are also sections on birds, flora and butterflies.

Photo of a Pyrenean desman

Photo of a Pyrenean desman

Barcelona’s parakeets to be culled

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I received this email this morning. It’s based on this article . Although I have grown to love this pesky fellows I myself have no intention of signing this petition as potentially monk parakeets could cause big problems in the surrounding countryside to farming and wildlife. I hope they are only going to reduce numbers. If you don’t agree with me, please sign their petition. More on monks here:

“Dear Mr Lloyd,
A contact e-mailed me yesterday about the planned wild parrot hunt in Barcelona. I am based in Brooklyn and the monk parakeets live here peacefully with other wildlife. I am shocked and discouraged by this planned action and am organizing a protest. But there is not much I can do on this side of the Atlantic. What’s needed are voices in Spain that are against it.
I have written about this issue and have an online petition. If you could spread the word in Europe, I’d be grateful”
Full story here:

Steve Baldwin
The Brooklyn Parrot Society

Is this a wolf?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I recently received this mail which provoked the following debate on the forum here.

I was interested to read your article on

“On the 4th of July at about 10 am I was leading a group of 7 trekkers from the UK down a mountain path in the Picos de Europa. We went from Refugio J D Ubeda to Sortes (I think this is just inside Austurias). At about 1000m altitude on a bend in the path we stopped for a break and quickly noted all the goats on the nearby hillside were all looking at another single animal higher up on the slope.
Getting my monocular focused it clearly was a large carnivore (bigger than a adult goat) which appeared to be trying to stalk the goats and some nearby sheep. There were no other humans visible in the area. It’s muscles in the shoulders were visible as it walked like a big cat. My immediate thought was that it looked like a Puma but the distance and background made the shape of its head difficult to see. It was being harassed by a couple of diving choughs or ravens, the spooked goats kept moving away from it, so in the end it just sat up on it’s haunches and looked at us.

Could this have been a Wolf ?

I attach some of my long range grainy photos that could be anything from a Big Foot to a Martian but I suspect it was a Wolf.

My apologies if you get lots of stupid questions like this all the
time but this ‘Beast of the Picos’ is bugging us.


IO1 Steve Houghton

Black flies in the Ebro

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

My Tortosí friends have been complaining about these for several years now. The images of the bites I’ve seen on TV are nasty. We’re actually dealing with two species from Africa Simulium intermedium and Simulium ornatum On occasions, farmers with orchards along the River Ebro have had great difficulty harvesting their crops

Black flies in Catalonia

Spain hit by plague of blood-sucking black flies

Dale Fuchs in Madrid Monday June 25, 2007 The Guardian

A plague of black flies has prompted authorities in north-eastern Spain to issue warnings on TV and fliers advising people to cover up and avoid riverside areas in the early morning and dusk.
The insect has been quickly breeding – and sucking blood – along the rivers and reservoirs of Catalonia and Aragon, causing alarm in small towns.

Only two to three millimetres long, the fly is much smaller and harder to spot than most mosquitoes, but its voracious bite sent more than 2,000 people to hospital last year in Catalonia alone. Its vigorous jaw, which releases a cocktail of chemicals, can produce allergic reactions.

“If the mosquito is a neurosurgeon that bites with a probe, the black fly is a butcher that scratches the skin and makes you bleed,” Raul Escosa, member of an Ebro river environmental board, told El Pais.
“We had to take my 18-year-old daughter to the dermatologist and the allergist because she had a dozen swellings of eight to 10 centimetres,” said Jesus Llop, a town council member in the town of Mequinenza.

The black fly, an umbrella term for several Simulium species, was first detected in the region in 1997, and it has been making its annoying presence increasingly felt. Unlike the mosquito, it breeds in clean river water. Regional experts believe the current outbreak stems from improvements in water quality and new irrigation channels, which created a new habitat.

The insect injects an anaesthetic, an anti-clotting agent and a vasodilator into the skin of its host, who belatedly notices the damage after the fly has moved on. In Switzerland an attacking swarm reportedly killed a calf.

Spanish Caves

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

I’ve put together this short guide to caves in Spain. I will be adding more material soon. Below la Torca del Carlista in the Basque Country, the largest cavern in Europe. Only currently accessible to expert cavers.

Torca del Carlista

Photo of the Torca del Carlista

Catalan wolves

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Today’s Avui notes there are now four different wolves present on the Cadi area of the Pre-Pyrenees. All are male, which is typical of an expaning population. There have been 11 recorded attacks on livestock. Since the detection of the first male in 2004, 13 trained mastiff dogs have given to local shepherds. More here from Avui (Catalan).
As previously reported on iberianature these wolves are genetically Italian in origin, forming part of an expansion over a number generations out from the Apennines, with the first wolf appearing in Catalonia in 2004. The last Catalan wolf was shot in Terra Alta in the south of the Principality in 1935, though the animal is thought to have disappeared from the Sierra de Cadí more than 100 years ago.

See also forum thread on this news;boardseen#new</p>