Archive for March, 2010

Spain geography game

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

This map game for learning the moutain ranges and basic geographical units of Spain is good fun. Only takes a couple of minuntes.

More Spain map games here, including this fiendish river quiz.

Iberian lynx distribution map

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

TVE have put together this map of the distribition of the Iberian lynx: (more…)

Serious blow to lynx breeding project

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The captive Iberian lynx breeding project has been dealt a serious blow with the expected death in the next year of ten Iberian lynxes from renal disease. Four animals have already died, and 40% of the captive population of 70 have the disease, which has no cure. Breeding pairs have been reduced from 27 to just 9, and so far only 2 cubs have been born, with only ten forecast for the season. Project head Astrid Vargas has affirmed that the deaths will not put a stop to the programme.


Donkeys to help schizophrenia and epilepsy patients

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Donkeys are being used for the first time in Spain in a centre in Galicia to help schizophrenia and epilepsy patients. El País

Deep-water Cantabrian sharks are opportunist hunters

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Spanish researchers have studied the diet of three species of sharks which live in the deep waters of El Cachucho, the first Protected Marine Area in Spain, off the coast of Llanes, Asturias. The blackmouth catshark (Galeus melastomus), the velvet belly lantern shark (Etmopterus spinax), and the birdbeak dogshark (Deania calcea)  feed on the resources available in their environment, according to changes taking place in the ocean depths. Their diet is opportunist, because they feed off whatever resources are available, in this case small euphausiid crustaceans, benthopelagic prawns and fish. More here

Lizard impaled by shrike

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

File:Shrike prey lizard.jpg

Spectacular image of a lizard impaled on a branch by a Great Southern Shrike (Lanius meridionalis Alcaudón Real in Spanish), in the La Geria region of Lanzarote. Lizards and small mammals are occassionally impaled by shrikes, though invertebrates are much more frequent victims. Photo by Yummifruitbat on Wikipedia.

Distribution in Spain “Reproductora en la mayor parte de la Península, pero
con distribución más laxa en las regiones de influencia atlántica y
cantábrica.” More here

Black vulture: SEO’s bird of the year

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

SEO has named the black vulture (Aegypius monachus), as its bird of the year for 2010. Unlike previous spceies the black or monk vulture is not endangered, although it is certainly threatened. Rather it has been selected to highlight the fragile balance of this flagship species in sites such as Monfrague (Cáceres) and Peñalara (Madrid). There are some 2,000 breeding pairs of the species in Spain, up from just 200 in the 1960s. This said, the blight of poison is still responsible for many deaths.  Crónica Verde

The genus name Aegypius is a Greek word for ‘vulture’, or a bird not unlike one; Aelian describes the aegypius as “halfway between a vulture (gyps) and an eagle”. Some authorities think this a good description of a lammergeier; others do not. Aegypius is the eponym of the species, whatever it was.[5] The English name ‘Black Vulture’ refers to the plumage colour, while ‘Monk Vulture’, a direct translation of its German name Mönchsgeier, refers to the bald head and ruff of neck feathers like a monk’s cowl. More from Wikipedia

Spring in Spain

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Spring officially began last Saturday at 18.32 Peninsular time and it promises to be beauty. The iberiantureforum people have been posting regular updates of the signs they see of spring. Follow all the updates here on the forum. Above photo of primroses by Phil James in the Pyrenees at about 1000m.

And Dave notes from León:

Absolutely gorgeous weather the last few days. A baby Blackbird fully fledged but with its yellow gape visible, feeding on the riverbank. The Black redstarts singing from the rooftops. A baby Sparrow being fed on the terrace. The rooks in the various colonies busily repairing their nests. A trip to get some soil for the pots, along with fertilizer for the roses and shrubs. Two mornings spent clearing up the terrace of plants that did not survive the winter. The roses pruned and showing their new shoots. Daffodils and Crocus in flower. Oh yes spring has arrived in León

Monk seal record

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The largest surviving monk seal population in the world, at Cabo Blanco (between Western Sahara and Mauritania), has broken its modern record with 51 pups born in 2009. The breeding season began in May and the maximum number of births took place in August and September with 13 births each. Also, a new group of young females were identified this year as reproductive individuals, increasing the reproductive potential of the colony. Crónica Verde Blog

The conservation project is led by Spanish scientists. Spain sees the conservation of Cabo Blanco colony of monk seals a priority as the species was once common off its coasts. A small group of monk seals survived in Cabo de Gata, Almeria until the 1960s. In 2009, for the time in 50 years a Monk seal was spotted off coast of Mallorca.

The Cabo Blanco colony saw the birth in 2008 of 46 pups, practically the same as in 2006, and doubling those of previous years. The colony is now made up of 180? individuals of which some 50 are breeding females, demonstrating that it is finally beginning to recover from the mass epidemic caused by a toxic seaweed of the late 1990s which killed off 75% of the colony.

Distribution of monk seals. From The Monachus Guardian.

Marmots expanding into Catalan Pre-Pyrenees

Monday, March 15th, 2010

File:Marmotte des Pyrénées.jpg

The Alpine Marmot is successfully spreading into the Catalan Pre-Pyrenees, and there may now be as many as 10,000 individuals in the region. (more…)