Arxiu de la categoria: Conservation

Common Genet photo hide sample

Along all 2013 we have been working in a new photo hide for Common Genet, a poorly known small carnivore living in South Europe and Africa.

The hide is place in a mixed forest near Tremp (Catalan Pyrenees) and it is the fruit of several months of field work. From all this work we have selected some of the most interesting images to offer a sample of what a photo session with these Common Genets can be.

What you will see in this video?

In this video you will see a adult female (called Flors) taking care of a group of four young Genets born in September. At the same time you will also see a son of Flors born the past spring but that has remained along with her and it seems to take care of the youngest.

Hope you will enjoy it as we did when spending time with them!


Climate debt; is European wildlife living in its prime habitat?

A recent paper published by Nature Climate Change points out the relation between climate change and range variations in several species of birds and butterflies.

It was already known that climate change was affecting distribution parameters in many species of wildlife. This is study is the first attempt to quantify these chances in wildlife’s range and results have been surprising. The study have been made calculating the habitat average temperature for a number of species of birds and butterflies and the average temperature for every community (betweetn 1990-2010), which is named CTI (Community Temperature Index). By studding CTI values of over 10.000 wildlife areas, from Scandinavia to Mediterranean coast, it is clear that CTI index has steadily increased. Thus investigators have realised that bird communities would moved an average of 37 km North while butterflies communities do so 114 km North. Thus nowadays we can find species of birds and butterflies similar to those we found twenty years ago in Southern areas.

Two-tailed Pasha, one of the species affected by climate debt.

Two-tailed Pasha, one of the species affected by climate debt. Photo: Carles Oliver

By reeding the paragraph above one can assume that both birds and butterflies are doing well against climate chance challenge. Unfortunately this far away to be truth. While birds and butterflies have moved North their populations for 37kms and 114kms during the last twenty years, the average temperatures in Europe have moved North 249 km, far more then wildlife. Thus there is a difference of 212 km for birds and 135 km for butterflies. This index shows how bird and butterfly species are not moving fast enough North to occupy their best ecological ambient and, thus, there is an important percentage of wildlife living in sub-prime areas. This situation can heavily affect to the whole ecosystem not only because of the effects today but also because of that trend will increase in future years.

This investigation has been made in Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Check Republic, France and Catalonia. CTI increase has been detected in all countries but it is more accused in Northern countries where climate chance effects would be more deep than in Southern ones.

According to this investigation both butterflies and birds are moving North their ranges but unfortunately they are not moving fast enough and thus are living in sub-prime climate areas. This situation afford a “climate debt”, a new concept regarding the distance between their range and the optimal climate conditions where they are adapted to live in.

This study assume the link between climate change and nature as well as point how difficult would be the management of our ecosystems in next decades.

Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) shot down in Ebro Delta

Ebro Delta is a huge wetland in South Catalonia. It holds a wide variety of waterfowl all year round, including over 100.000 waterfowls in winter.

Despite Ebro Delta’s main lagoons and marshes are protected by a Natural Park and some Natural Reserves hunting is still allowed during winter time. Coot (Fulica atra) is one of the species to be hunted within the Ebro Delta Natural Park. Every winter a pack of over 30.000 is wintering within its fresh water lagoons and a 10% of this number of Coots is allowed to be hunted.

On past 2012 December 16, 500 Coots were hunted in l’Encanyissada, the main fresh water lagoon in Ebro Delta. But along with the Coots a Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) was also shot down. According with Ebro Delta’s Wildlife Rangers, ducks are few likely to be hunted along with Coots as they fastly flow off of the lagoon as soon as they see the small boats where hunters approach the massive flock of Coots. All Mallards, Teals, Gadwalls, Pintails, Shovelers and Pochards in the lagoon fastly disappear and only Coots (which absolutely dislike to fly) prefer to slowly swim until the flock is closed agaisnt an artifical small wall in the middle of the lagoon. This is the place where hunter wait for them.

Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) is a rare winter species (5-10 individuals per year) in Catalonia favouring big, calm bays and deltas along the coastline. There are really few records of birds in fresh water lagoons. The Scoter maybe was not scared of people as this species, nesting in North Scandinavia and Russia, has little contact with human beings. Or maybe was too tired to fly and preferred to don’t move until it was absolutely necessary. This second option could answer the question; why was this duck in a fresh water lagoon?

Ebro Delta’s Wildlife Rangers have opened an investigation, but other protected or endangered species will be dead as long as hunting is allowed inside this Important Bird Area.

Griffon Vulture to colonize Majorca

It is the very first time (in historic data) that Griffon Vulture colonizes an European island by natural ways.

Majorca is a 3.600 square kilometres island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the major Balearic Island, in Spain. Despite it is a main holiday destination it is preserving a variety of wildlife within its territory.

There are two species of vultures that currently breeds in Majorca; Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus). Both species have small but stable populations in the Majorcan mountainous areas. Very soon it could be a third species of nesting vulture in the island.

It was October 30th, 2008 when up to 800 Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) were recorded in south-eastern Spain. They mainly were juveniles and some of them were marked with yellow wing-bands. At this time a low-pressure area was accelerating winds from high to low pressure areas. One day later, a 70 individuals large flock was recorded in Menorca. It was the first record of this species in this small Balearic Island. In November 12th, 2008 numbers of Griffon Vulture were detected in Majorca. Since that day until today there a numerous group of Griffon living in Majorca.

In November 2010 the Balearic Island Regional Government carried a census out and determined a total population of 46-59 Griffon Vulture in Majorca living in four different areas along the island’s main range of mountains. Griffon Vultures were located in all this range of mountains although bigger flocks (12-17 individuals) were found between Pollença and Valldemossa.

Any nest have been located yet although it seems clear that this population will breed soon in Majorca. Maybe 2012 will be their year and some couples try to definitely stablish in Majorca!!

More information about this matter in Quercus nº 311, January, 2012.

New species in winter time in Ebro Delta

Due to climate change or to local features it is a reality that every time more species of birds, formerly though as a summer visitors, are spending winter time in some areas of South Europe.

I have been absolutely surprised by the view of a Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) in Ebro Delta. It was on Sunday November 4 and I was spending the day with a couple just arrived from Switzerland. We had nice views of many birds but we saw five different species that until few years ago were summer visitors and now are becoming more common during the winter.

First was the Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) leaving the reedbeds at raisang with tens of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba alba). Later a group of Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) (5 of them) flying over the fields with some Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris). Barn Swallow is coming up in numbers every winter and its presence is considered “not rare” in Ebro and Llobregat deltas. We counted 6 Hoopoe (Upupa epops) in different areas. Hoopoe is a quite common summer-but-also-winter bird in Catalonia, specially along the coast. In the paddy fields we saw one White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), though this species is specially common in winter in Lleida Steppes. Finally a number of  Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) were spending the day alongside channels, reedbeds and on paddy fields.

60.000 finches to be captured in Catalonia

The Catalan Government has approved a new edict that is allowing to hunt over 60.000 finches in Catalonia next winter. All green associations in the country have protested against this crazy law but was approved in the Parliament by the three main political parties. This appointment arrives three years after the abolition of hunting this kind of birds in Catalonia.

The species to be hunt includes Goldfinch (6.504), Greenfinch (3.490) and Linnet (3.367) but are Chaffinch who is gonna take bigger piece of all since 46.800 of them will be killed. The populations of some of these birds are growing last years (overall Chaffinch) but Linnet is a more scarce species every time.

This hunt is related about old southern Spain tradition to hunt singing birds and make sing contests with these birds. It is a deep-roots tradition in many areas of southern Europe. Different green associations in the country have started different actions to protest agaisnt this edict.

Brown Bear population increasing in Pyrenees

At the end of the XX century the French Goverment started a program to save the last Brown Bear population in the Pyrenees. It is almost 15 years since the first brown bear coming from Slovenia was liberated in the Pyrenees, joining the tiny population (2-5 individuals) these mountains had at this time. There was controversial in French and Catalan media and also some local people were opposite to brown bears.

2005 Brown bear (Ursus arctos) distribution map in Pyrenees.

Despite these initial problems, today the brown bear population is well established in Central Pyrenees, mainly around Val d’Aran, in Catalonia. There are about 30 brown bears in the whole of the Pyrenees, and about 25 living in Val d’Aran and areas around (mainly north Pallars). It is a nice new to say local people have changed their opinions about bears since most of them are proud to have this impressive mammal living in their forests.

Brown Bear in the Pyrenees. Photo; Carles Oliver

2011/12 winter is gonna see a big number of puppies because of until there are 6 females to reproduce. Since XXth 80’s that there are not so many females to reproduce in one spring in the Pyrenees!! This is an astonishing change in thirty years, when the species was almost erradicated from these mountains and this change is thanks to French and Catalan Goverments as well as DEPANA, ADET, Fiep and other NGO’s.