Archive for November, 2007

Breeding shags down 60% in Parque Nacional de las Islas Atlánticas due to Prestige

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

The breeding population of shags (cormorán moñudoPhalacrocórax aristotelis) has fallen 60% in the Parque Nacional de las Islas Atlánticas as a result of the Prestige oil disaster. Numbers have dropped from 1500 pairs before the slick in 2002 to 350 (2003-2007) in the Cies Islands. Seabird populations in the United Kingdom have also been affected by the Prestige. The article notes the fall of guillemot numbers on the Isle of Skomer in Wales. (SEO) The shag is catalogued as Endangered in the Atlantic and Vulnerable in the Mediterranean according to the Libro Rojo de las Aves de España.

Early civilization collapse in Sierra de Baza

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

From the BBC yesterday and picked up from the iberianatureforum here One of Western Europe’s earliest known urban societies may have sown the seeds of its own downfall


Bears breeding near Oviedo

Monday, November 19th, 2007

According to Fapas, bears are coming closer and closer to Oviedo in the valle del Trubia.  A female bear with cubs has been detected within 8 kilometres of the city’s administrative limits, the first time cubs have been detected in the Trubia for ten years. This central area now seems to comprise three breeding females and is an essential step in joining the two separate bear populations.  LNE

Dinosaurs in Aragon

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

Aragonese dinosaur man Rupert Glasgow of the excellent aragosaurus has kindly sent me this news review of their recent work with dinosaurs.

theropod dinosaur tooth (aragosaurus)

New Lower Cretaceous Dinosaur Site Found

The search for vertebrate fossils from the Lower Cretaceous of Teruel (part of a regional-government backed project) has borne fruit in the form of fossils from a new site. The location in question is the Aragonese town of Miravete de la Sierra, where a number of dinosaur teeth have recently come to light.These discoveries have been presented to the scientific community at the international palaeontology congress held at Salas de los Infantes (Burgos, Spain) from 13-15 September and at the meeting of the Spanish Palaeontology Society at Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia, Spain).
The findings include isolated teeth from various small theropod dinosaurs (carnivores), as well as tooth fragments from spinosaurid theropods and iguanodontid ornithopods. This latter group comprises medium-sized and large plant-eaters, of which the most famous one is Iguanodon. At present the material recovered is too fragmentary to be able to provide a more specific classification.
The discoveries represent an extension of the ongoing research being carried out in Teruel by the Grupo Aragosaurus, the Mesozoic and Quaternary Vertebrate Palaeontology Group of the University of Zaragoza.Let’s hope this new area proves to be as rich in fossils as Galve, Josa or Peñarroya de Tastavins. For more information: see (Noticias, 9 Oct 2007)

Found: Spain’s most modern dinosaur ichnites

The Grupo Aragosaurus has recently discovered a whole new cluster of ichnites produced by hadrosaur dinosaurs (a group of “duck-billed” herbivores) from the Upper Maastrichtian of the Pyrenees, near the town of Serraduy in Huesca, Aragon.
Sites of ichnites, or fossilized footprints, from the end of the Cretaceous are rare in the Iberian Peninsular. The only other one currently known in Aragon is to be found at Arén, also in Huesca. Thus the great interest generated by this new discovery of ichnites in rocks from the Upper Maastrichtian, just over 65 million years ago. The footprints in question were produced by hadrosaur dinosaurs sinking into the mud of ancient rivers. A number of such ichnites are in evidence, clearly enough preserved to make out the individual toes. Together with other footprints from north of Barcelona, they represent the most modern record of dinosaur ichnites in the Iberian Peninsular, and are among the most modern in the world.
At present scientists are still unsure of the exact timing of the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (or K-T boundary), when the meteorite impact took place, but it is known that these ichnites were formed a few thousand years prior to the extinction of the dinosaurs. For this reason, the ichnites are of great scientific interest, although they are not spectacular enough to warrant exhibition, for the time being at least. For more information see: (Noticias, 19 July 2007)

Antonio Machado in Soria

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I loved this documentary about Antonio Machado in Soria shown on Escarabajo Verde last Sunday.

Ian Gibson explains how Machado’s visit to Soria was to have a great impact on the poet’s work. The poems he wrote here were published as “Campos de Castilla”, a collection lyricising the beauty of the Castilian countryside. His first work in Soria expressed the poverty and ruggedness of the region, but his writings were to soften when he met, fell in love and married Leonor Izquierdo, daughter of the owners of the boarding house Machado was staying in. Sadly, Leonor soon fell ill and died from tuberculosis, just a few weeks after the publication of Campos de Castilla. Machado was devastated and left Soria, never to return. He moved to Baeza where he wrote a series of poems dealing with the death of Leonor which were added to a new edition of Campos de Castilla published in 1916 , which now saw the Sorian landscape full of melancholy and sadness. The documentary also mentions the articles Machado wrote for the local press expressing an early environmental concern and denouncing the burning of pinewoods for pasture. (Escarabajo Verde, TVE2 from Forestman)

Fields of Soria (extract)

Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks
through which the Duero bends
its crossbow arc
round Soria, shadowed oaks,
stone dry-lands, naked mountains,
white roads and river poplars,
twilights of Soria, warlike and mystical,
today I feel, for you,
in my hearts depths, sadness,
sadness of love! Fields of Soria,
where it seems the stones have dreams,
you go with me! Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks.

Five years today since the Prestige disaster

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Today, the 13th November, is five years since the Prestige disaster. El Pais reminds us that nobody has yet been tried for this.

prestige clean-up

Some key facts

  • The spill is the largest environmental disaster in Spain’s history.
  • 64,000 tons of fuel oil were spilled in the incident
  • The cost of the clean-up to the Galician coast alone is estimated at €2.5 billion
  • The World Wildlife Fund estimated that 300,000 seabirds died. A study published this month (Nov 2007) shows that hydrocarbons are still present in the seabird chicks (El Mundo)
  • Seafood industry was halted along much of Galicia’s coast
  • WWF warn of the possibility of other “Prestiges” today and notes three oil spills in Spain this year Sierra Nava (Algeciras), Don Pedro (Ibiza) and Samothraki (Gibraltar) WWF

See also “The largest environmental disaster in Spanish history began during a fierce storm off Galicia’s Coast of Death, la Costa da Morte, on 13th November 2002, as the Prestige oil tanker was sailing from Latvia to Gibraltar, to its ultimate destination of Singapore.” (Typically Spanish) + More on the Prestige oil spill (wikipedia)

Castilla-La Mancha to breed lynx in Captivity

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

The Junta de Castilla-La Mancha have announced that they are to open a breeding centre for Iberian lynx in the Parque Nacional de Cabañeros. Meanwhile, they have also released a photo of lynx they claim was taken in front of an automatic camera last Thursday and did not run although the the flash continued to fire. (El Pais) The Junta have also released figures for the population in CLM – 3 breeding females, 2 males, 4 sub-adults and 6 cubs. The lynxes are somewhere in Ciudad Real and may be animals which have dispersed from Sierra Morena in Andalucia, and perhaps mixed with a relict population in CLM. This would be very good news as it would mean that the Sierra Morena lynxes are expanding more than previously believed. 

Greenpeace predict the future of Spain with photo book

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Greenpeace have just published a book (Photoclima: Imágenes de un futuro afectado por el cambio climático) which attempts to predict the future of the Spanish landscape using photo manipulation. The photos are accompanied by texts by writers including José Saramago, Manuel Rivas, Iñaki Gabilondo, Miguel Delibes and Jane Goodall. Below the River Ebro as it passes through Zaragoza and the disappearance of La Manga del Mar Menor. El Pais

Building freeze on Balearic coastline

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

The Guardian reports today:

“The Balearic islands are to freeze all construction along the most delicate parts of coastlines and around the islands’ capitals, which have been blighted by property developments since mass tourism first arrived in Spain in the 60s. The plan, set to be announced tomorrow, will come into force immediately in an effort to save some of the most beautiful coastlines on the islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, from further development.” Read on the Guardian

See also “Medio siglo de éxito del turismo de masas y de élite, más el urbanismo salvaje reciente, han dejado su huella de hormigón sobre buena parte del paisaje costero. Pero la mayor parte del perfil insular, de 1.428 kilómetros, no ha sido explotada: está casi intacta, a salvo del desarrollismo que dejó inaccesible, sin uso público, muchas decenas de kilómetros.” Paraíso y caos en la costa balear (El Pais) “

Latest lynx population numbers

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

The latest figures for Iberian lynx appear to be promising. There are now estimated to be between 200 and 250 individuals (including cubs) in Andalucia. 44 cubs were born this year in the two encalves of Sierra Morena and Doñana. Added to this is the possible existence (sorry, still need to be convinced on this) of a population in Castilla-La Mancha (CLM), made up of 15 animals (six cubs and nine adults). According to CLM authorities these lynxes were first detected in July 2002 and have since been “located” on 45 occasions. What is strange is that the official 2004 census ruled out the animal’s presence in CLM after 14,571 photo traps. If true, however, there are now between 215 and 265 Iberian lynx in Spain in the wild.

There are also now 37 individuals in the captive breeding centres which is to be increased to 60 breeding animals by 2010-, guaranteeing 85% of the genetic variability which existed in the wild in 2004. Some of these animals are to be sent to Portugal, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha for their own breeding programmes. The Portuguese government has begun to build a centre in Algarve and hopes to release lynx into the wild in the Algarve by 2019.

Note: there is considerable skepticism, to say the least in the Spanish natural history community about the CLM lynxes because of the way the news was released, the weird videos and the lack of coordination. Here’s what some people on the linceforo are saying.

Photo from Lynx Recovery Programme