Archive for September, 2007

Iberian wolf photos

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Some great wolf photos by Andoni Canela from this Sunday’s La Vanguardia’s magazine as part of an article on wolves in Spain. This year in Villardeciervos (Zamora)three wolves were auctioned for hunting in the Sierra de la Culebra, but this is coming increasingly into question with the rise of wolf watching tourism in the area. Come wolf watching with Iberianature from 11-16th October 2007.

Mediterranean corals in danger

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Oceana have warned of the disappearance of millions of Mediterranean corals due to pollution fishing practices and climate change. More than 200 species of corals, Gorfonacea and anemones live in the Mediterranean. Barely 1% are protected by international accords. (El Mundo)

Iberian landscapes

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Juan García Gálvez is Cordoban photographer with an ability to capture that sense of inmensity you are sometimes struck with when you cross the Peninsula.

A castle

A hillside populated with cork, holm and gall oaks in the Sierra Morena.

Spanish research into colony collapse disorder

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

From yesterday’s Guardian “Scientists in Spain believe they have found the killer parasite that is responsible for wiping out bee colonies from California to Cannes. The assassin, they believe, is Nosema ceranae, an Asian parasite which has worked its way into hives across Europe and America, wreaking terrible damage on the bees’ internal organs. Read more Guardian

And CCD or no CCD, this year looks to be good for Galician honey at least. Rain and cool temperatures have led to the best honey harvest for 20 years.
Meanwhile on the iberianture forum Dr. Pedro P. Rodriguez notes in this very interesting piece that “CCD has given bee researchers a field day with huge money grants. This is also good for beekeeping because I am sure that most of them will discover remedies to the ailments that may be affecting honey bees. Some of them already have. For instance Mariano Higes, a Spanish scientist,   isolated a Nosema variant that has been found in a great number of colonies seemingly affected by CCD. I live near Mr. Higes place of work and I have known him for over ten years. He is a talented and dedicated researcher who may have found another contributing factor to CCD. However, We should take into consideration that pathogens can inflict severe damage to their hosts when the host’s strength is weakened as happens when the bees are stressed. Spain had a severe drought two years ago which I am sure was responsible for a great number of honey bee colonies collapsing, and perhaps the newly discovered Nosema strain contributed to their losses but it is doubtful that it was the sole responsible factor. I keep my bee colonies in the area, Guadalajara Province, and my bees are not disappearing. I have fabulous bee populations in my colonies (See attached photograph). This statement is not meant to take credit away from my friend’s work, but to indicate that investigators must look further to other causes if we expect to arrive at a definite solution to CCD.” Read all 
More about bees in Spain

Santander swallow migration

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

SEO report today here on the annual gathering of thousands of swallows in the Bahía de Santander in Cantabria before setting off for Africa. Between 5,000 and 6,000 swallows have been  gathering since the end of August in the Marisma de Alday (Camargo) before flying off en masse in mid September. They spend the night in the reedbeds of these marshes and feed during the day off the huge numbers of insects flourishing on the post harvest stubble. Most of these  birds are from the British Isles and stop off on the Cantabrian Coast to “refuel” before continuing onto Africa. SEO stresses the importance of the conservation of this type of wetland for bird conservation at a European level and notes the role played by the councils of Camargo, Astillero and Santander in helping to protect them.

Henri Cartier-Bresson in Castile and Aragon

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Henri Cartier-Bresson visited Castile and Aragon for Magnum Photos in 1963. More here. The photos are of landscapes in Segovia, somewhere in Castilla and Aragon near the Soria border (last two). It would be interesting to compare the treeless hills in the two photos of Aragon with today. They will be very probably be forested now.

Iberian lynx in Doñana

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The BBC has an interesting article today on Doñana and the lynx: How the EU saves, and kills, the lynx

lynx andalucia

Photo from Lynx Recovery Programme

from which I have snatched:

“Dr Astrid Vargas, famous for her work to save the lynx in Spain, shows me the control centre where they are monitored.

A lynx

The lynx is like a domestic cat… with the hint of a tiger

To my disappointment, I am not allowed to see the animals in the flesh: there is the risk of them catching diseases and becoming unsettled if there’s a stream of visitors.

But it’s entrancing enough watching them on the monitors, as Astrid tries to find the cubs by panning cameras and switching between angles.

Two cubs are out for a morning walk but eventually join their brother in their den. They cuff each other, bite and play.

A three-year-old is about the size of a cocker spaniel, and they have wonderful faces, a little like a domestic cat, but then the hint of tiger flashes through. There is something both fey and ancient about their faces, it’s probably the tufted ears and pointed beard that does it.

They are at risk partly because disease has killed their main prey, rabbits. But environmentalists say what really threatens them is that the wetlands of this national park are drying out.

“Encroachment by humans has been brutal. If we do not protect the lynx’s habitat, there’s no point in having them in captivity – the purpose of this programme is to re-introduce them into the wild,” Astrid says.

“The reason the lynx is going extinct is because of our pressure. The Mediterranean maquis is shrinking fast, the natural vegetation is slowly but surely being changed.”

Iberian lynx mating call

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The mating call of a female Iberian lynx Here from the BBC (real audio)

The bear and the princess

Monday, September 10th, 2007

The Monasterio de San Salvador in Cornellana, Asturias was founded in 1024 by Princess Cristina, daughter of King Bermudo II of Leon, also known as Bermudo el Gotoso (Gout-stricken). The gate into the vegetable garden is decorated with the relief of what is perhaps a female bear breast-feeding a human child. The legend goes that when Cristina was a young girl she got lost in the forest and was saved by a bear which fed and protected her.

Shepherds protest in Madrid

Monday, September 10th, 2007

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

madrid sheep

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”.