We are the Hoopoes

4 08 2012

“I think it’s really important for me not to forget where I came from”

Anna Kournikova

Most of people in Spain has a village. It’s not the village where you live but where you, your parents or even your granparents were born. In any of those cases, you feel that village yours and it’s always a pleasure to come back, see your old friends and enjoy the fact nature is closer there.

Aguaviva de la Vega is my village. It is placed in southern Soria, central Spain, 200km north of Madrid and just in the edge of the Spanish central plateaux. People from here are so-called “The Hoopoes” and even I like that surname, I’ve never understood where does it come from.

There is not a predominant landscape, what means the biodiversity is high. There are stony calcarium slopes with disperse bushes or encinas, dense oak tree forests, extensive mill fields with some plain scrubland areas in between and a nice Populus river forest together with the village.

Talking about birds, more than 90 species do breed. To make you aware of the diversity it’s worth to say a Golden eagle nest can be found close to the village in one of the pintoresque cliffs, while is also possible to hear the Dupont’s lark singing in the scrublands south of the village during the quiet March nights. Both species can be detected from the same point. Walking across the steppeland, is always nice to notice the presence of some Black-bellied sandgrouse, even this species is getting alarmly scarcer. The same is occuring to the Little bustard, which inhabits the mill fields taking profit also of the surrounding steppes. Greater short-toed lark, Tawny pipit and Spectacled warbler are commoner. It must be also said that all of these places are good to look for the mythic Eurasian dotterel from the end of August to the end of September.

The cliffs where the Golden eagle breeds have also good densities of Rufous-tailed rock thrush. They are so close to the village that it’s not difficult to see some individuals foraging in the roofs of the houses. Eagle owl, Rock martin, Rock Sparrow and Red-billed chough are also present, while Peregrine falcon and Egyptian vulture are extinct as breedind species, even it’s posible to see some migrating individuals of the last.

Below the cliffs, there are quite a lot stony slopes with disperse bushes that house Western orphean warbler and both Rock and Ortolan bunting. That’s maybe the most valuous habitat of the village.

The oak trees are not so diverse, but, apart from the high densities of Western Bonelli’s warbler, there are some interesting raptors such as Short-toed and Booted eagles. There are at least 1 pair of the first and 3 pairs of the last inside the limits of the village. The sources of water inside of the oak forest are good for migrants, specially in the post-nuptial migration. Lots of Common redstars, Iberian Chiffchaffs and Pied flycatchers can be found there.

Finally, the river forest just by the village houses an impressive density of Golden oriole, Scops owl, Turtle dove and a huge etcetera.

Mammals are always present in the walks. The most conspicous is the Roe deer, while Pine marten and Iberian hare are commoner at night than expected during the day. The most interesting species is the Mediterranean water shrew, present in the channels surrounding the wet limit of the village.

Just to say something about butterflies, Agrodiaetus fabressei and Plebicula nivescens are both extremely localized species, restricted to the dry and calcarium slopes of central Spain. Both can be found coming to drink close to the village during the central hours of the hot august days.

I will be there for the next month (except for a weekend in Lanzarote). I will try to keep my naturalistic activity and try to look to these ecosystems with the same eyes than in the Canaries.

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