Archive for May, 2008

Photos of wolves

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Wil Luiif has sent me these remarkable photos of a wolf in the Sierra de la Culebra he took this April.

Wil organises English-language trips to watch wolves in Zamora, possibly in the future in collaboration with iberianature. More here at Aragonnatuur or send him an email. Don’t be put off by the Dutch, his English is better than mine. More on Iberian wolves and have a look at the archive on wolves

Conservation work camp in the Picos de Europa

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos is organising a work camp in July with volunteers in the village of Bejes, Cantabria. The camp is centred on helping the maintenance of traditional livestock farming in the Picos de Europa as an essential element in the conservation of the biodiversity and the recovery of the lammergeyer in the Cantabrian Mountains. Volunteers will help in sheering the sheep which are taken up to the high pastures in the summer. The camp involves three days working with the shepherds, two days learning about the fauna and flora of the Picos and one day’s rest. Knowledge of some Spanish is highly recommendable. More information from FCQ.

Falcon watching in Barcelona

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Come falcon watching at the Sagrada Família, Barcelona this Sunday 18th May. Plaça Sagrada Família with Thalassia, Galanthus and Iberianature. 10:00-13:00.

History of the dehesa

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

This article from the latest Environment and History makes fascinating reading.

Spanish Wood Pasture: Origin and Durability of an Historical Wooded Landscape in Mediterranean Europe

Spanish dehesas, the most extensive wood pastures in Mediterranean Europe, are a vivid example for demonstrating that the impact of rural communities on forests has not always been a bad thing. Environmental history is vital for understanding this cultural landscape. This article first analyses the origin of the dehesa. The border logic and the medieval Reconquest are elements that undoubtedly played a decisive part in its genesis; but, for the significance of Roman influence in Spain, it is necessary to consider the question of the possible existence of dehesas in Antiquity. The second aspect concerns the spreading of this landscape from the Middle Ages onwards. Dehesas are usually linked to the large properties owned by military orders, but most of all the spreading of the dehesa was favoured by the rise of transhumance from the thirteenth century onwards. Finally, the article emphasises that the durability of the Spanish wood pasture can be explained by a combination of several factors: insecurity along the border, the fact that transhumance was the most important industry in Spain for many centuries, and the protective laws adopted by the rural communities in order to protect their dehesas. Vincent Clément See also dehesa

Iberian wolf videos

Monday, May 12th, 2008

I’ve put together this collection of videos from Google Video and YouTube of documentaries and news items on wolves in Spain. there also a link to a radio programme on wolves from Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. Enjoy.

Beaver erradication begins

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The plan to eradicate (or at least control) the population of beavers, illegally introduced into the River Ebro several years ago, has begun with the live capture of three animals. La
See also Beavers in Spain (Iberianature)

Spanish geography quizzes

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I enjoyed doing these Spanish geography quizzes. The rivers of Spain is fiendishly difficult. You may also enjoy these Spanish natural history quizzes I did last year.

Eco-tourism and bears in Somiedo

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Following a rather sensational article in El Pais, an interesting polemical discussion is currently going on in the Spanish press. The original article centres on the dangers of bears becoming accustomed to human presence and approaching villages and their food sources, such as beehives, with the ensuing possibility of attacks on humans that this could incur. It refrains from mentioning that, in the north of Spain, bears and humans have lived side by side for hundreds of years resulting in no, or very little, danger on the part of the humans. In fact there exists a certain admiration and respect among the people of the Cantabrian mountains for their Ursine neighbours. The article also omits the very important factor of the lack of carrion around (an important part of the bear’s diet) due to the BSE laws enforcing the removal of carcasses from the countryside. Another concern raised is that foreign tour companies, in particular the British wildlife tour company Naturetrek, are endangering the future of the bears by disturbing them in their natural habitat.

Naturetrek deny they cause the bears any disturbance, a spokesman stating that their tours look for bears at a distance using public footpaths, though they don’t guarantee sightings. The Asturian tourist board and ecologist groups are of the opinion that this kind of tourism is endangering the growth and survival of the precarious Cantabrian brown bear population. However, bear specialist organisations and the mayor of Somiedo all envisage a future of guided and regulated wildlife-watching tours contributing to the local economy without disturbing the bears. A delicate balance.

Discovery of inhibitor produced by bears during hibernation

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Scientists from Barcelona University have discovered that bears produce an inhibitor that prevents loss of muscle tissue during hibernation.  While their body temperature stays constant and they neither eat, drink nor defecate, proteins in the body produce a potent inhibitor that allows their muscle mass to remain as it was prior to hibernation leaving them able to move normally when they exit their dens in spring. The discovery could lead to a breakthrough in human medical care.


Hotels in and near Pals

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
  • Más Roig masia – Totally rehabilitated XVIth Century farmhouse that preserves constructive elements of the Gothic Renaissance. A short distance from the medieval village of Pals, the hotel has a magnificent garden and a sensational restaurant offering empordanesa cuisine.
  • Más Salvi – farmhouse hotel near Pals. This old Manor House dating from the XVII Century has recently been restored and is equipped with all modern conveniences. It offers its guests 22 luxurious suites set in an exclusive natural area of 70,000 square meters of privately owned woodland.
  • Hotel Convent The hotel is an old renovated convent built in the 17th century by the religious order ‘Minimos’ in the beautiful coastal town of Begur.