Archive for June, 2010

Mediterranean Storm-petrel in Catalonia

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Interesting page on the recovery programme of the Mediterranean Storm-Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis in Catalonia.

There are few known coastal breeding sites for the  in Spain and France, apart from their core breeding areas in the Balearics and central Mediterranean. After carrying out some years of a ringing program in the Costa Brava area, Catalonia, some potential breeding areas for the Mediterranean Storm-Petrel (very irregular and endangered breeding species in the area, regularly recorded in Spring and Summer offshore) were identified. From Birds in Spain Blog (lots of photos

Released lynxes have cubs

Monday, June 14th, 2010
Uno de los linces liberados en 2009 en Córdoba. | El Mundo

The seven Iberian lynxes (four females and three males) released in December 2009 in Guadalmellato, Cordoba are breeding successfully. Three cubs have been born to one mother, and two other females are believed to be pregnant.

The seven animals were the first to be released from the lynx captive breeding programme with the aim of establishing new territories across Spain. In this first case, an area close to the main lynx  stronghold of Andújar was chosen. To make their adaptation easier, supplementary food in the form of penned rabbits has been provided – the lynxes can get in, but the rabbit can’t get out. The animals have also been fitted with radio-trackers.

The biologists in charge of the project are delighted not only with the news of the cubs, but also because no lynxes have so far died – three to four were expected to do so as they succumbed to the ordeal of adapting to their new territory. One animal has also come into contact with lynxes from Andújar which bodes well that this small population can expand.

Photo of one of the Guadalmellato lynxes on its release: El Mundo

Iberian lynx reintroduction continues

Sunday, June 13th, 2010
The plan to reintroduce Iberian lynx in the wild is to continue, despite the serious setback posed by the outbreak of a renal disease amongst the captive animals, in a year when only nine cubs were born. The fact that the wild populations in Andalucia are increasingly strong (65 and 165 animals in Doñana and Sierra Morena in, respectively) and the overall success of the captive breeding programme (80 cubs born so far) bodes well for the future, as does the  increasing Iberian nature of the programme with the involvement of Castilla-La Mancha, Extredura and Portugal. EFE
The breeding project was dealt a serious blow with the expected death in the next year of twelve lynxes from renal disease. More here Serious blow to lynx breeding project

Bald ibis reintroduction

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Bizarre photo of the month goes to the people involved in the bald ibis reintroduction programme, who released six birds this week in the Sierra de Retín (Cádiz), making a total of 24 so far this year, and 215 since the proyecto Eremita began. El País. Note: the hats, in addition to an essential fashion item this summer in Cadiz, are part of the plot to confuse the birds that they have been raised by ibises not humans.

The aim is to reintroduce the bird to areas where it has become extinct and to strengthen existing wild populations in North Africa. The last definite reference to the bald ibis breeding in Spain is from a 15th century falcony book.

See also Bald Ibis breed in Spain for first time in 500 years

Grey whale spotted off Barcelona

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Gray whale

To the amazement of scientists, a grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) has been spotted off the coast of Barcelona, after being tracked from Palestine/Israel. North Atlantic-Mediterranean populations were understood to have become extinct in the 18th century, and there have no sightings since. The most likely expllanation is that the animal is a Pacific grey whale that has become lost. If it does form part of a new Atlantic population that would indeed be news. El País and BBC

Andoni Canela

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

A badger running through the grass in Extremadura this May by the brilliant Spanish wildlife photographer Andoni Canela . More here

More on Badgers in Spain

France wants Cantabrian bears for Pyrenees

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

France has asked the Spanish government for Cantabrian bears to help repopulate the Pyrenees, where less than 20 animals survive. Given the fragile state of the Cantabrian population this is unlikely to be agreed. La Crónica Verde

In the photo the bear called Camille sits next to the tasty feast of a dead wild boar, somewhere in the Pyrenees.

Black vultures in the Pyrenees

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The Black Vulture Aegypius monachus is currently being reintroduced in the Catalan Pyrenees. Some 27 individuals were released between 2007 and 2009 in the Alinyà area. Each bird is being tracked: 15 regularly use the area, 3 are dispersing, 7 have been found dead and 3 are missing. A chick born on 25th April at one of the release sites was was the first to be born in the region since the late 19th century. Black Vultures in the Pyrenees

Note: SEO made the black vulture its Ave del Año for 2010.

Killer whales in Cadiz

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

BBC documentary of killer whales off the coast of Cadiz attracted by huge tuna captured by the almadraba fishing technique.

From The Natural World – Wild In Spain. Unfortunately it features Micheal Portillo.

The almadraba is an elaborate and age-old Andalusian technique of setting nets in a maze that leads to a central pool called “copo”. The maze uses just two net lines, called “raveras”. One net is connected to the shore and other line is secured in deeper water. Those lines have smaller oblique lines which leads to the central pool. Tunas are not able to see the exit from the central pool and remain inside. This simple maze works because tuna tend to go into the Mediterranean during spring and the beginning of summer. The floor of the central pool is raised in order to catch the tunas and when that floor is up, there is little room for tunas and they are then caught easily and slaughtered. Wikipedia

From Dolphins and whales in the Strait of Gibraltar

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) visit the Strait of Gibraltar during the tuna migration season in July and August. At the same time Spanish and Moroccan fishermen fish for yellowfin tuna, using longline fishing technics, they lower their fishing lines, armed with several hooks, vertically to the sea bottom. This fishing procedure is possible only in a limited area, where the depth of sea is only 100 metres. Killer whales, being intelligent animals, found out that it is much easier to take a tuna already caught on a fisherman’s hook, than to race with a fish in all its strength. Fishermen must often be satisfied with no more than the head of a tuna; orcas never eat the head of the fish as it contains a metal hook. This is the most dolphin safe of all methods of tuna fishery.

The killer whale population of the Strait of Gibraltar is only 12 animals (2006). There is a photo-identification catalogue of them. They are rather difficult to observe: they can only be found easily if tuna fishermen are on the sea, and the orcas hang around them. In any other instances, whale-watchers only can come across them by chance.

Altamira to reopen to visitors

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Spain has decided to reopen the Altamira cave complex in Cantabria after eight years being closed to visitors, despite scientists warnings’ that heat from human visitors damages the art. Visits are to resume next year on a restricted basis. The main chamber at Altamira features 21 bisons painted in ochre, red and black, which seem to charge against a low, limestone ceiling. The site was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. The caves were first restricted and then closed after scientists warned that visitors’ body heat and carbon dioxide from breath were damaging the paintings, estimated to be 14,000 to 20,000 years old. El País

On seeing the paintings of bisons, horses, fawns and wild boars, Picasso famously proclaimed, ‘after Altamira, all is decadence’. A long line of great 20th century artists from Henry Moore to Miquel Barceló have been astonished and inspired by them. See also Altmira cave paintings

The caves are inscribed as masterpieces of creative genius and as the humanity’s earliest accomplished art. UNESCO