Friday, April 30, 2010

from desert to fields of snow in two kilometres

Collared Pratincole

Such is the great range of altitude over short distances in the Iberian Peninsula that you can go from a veritable desert to wet and lush mountain pastures in two kilometres of elevation. The drying salt marsh in the marismas is now home to Collared Pratincoles (above) and a range of larks including the Calandra (above) and the Lesser Short-toed Lark (below). These species (photos taken on the 23rd) are perfectly at home in temperatures aboce 30C in the baking sun.

...but go up into the high elevations and you enter the realm of the Skylark (above). This bird is common at low elevations in winter but these are northern birds that go back into north-western Europe in the spring. The Iberian Skylarks are mountain birds that find their home on islands of cool habitat away from the drying lowlands.

The melt water keeps the pastures lush up here where we find a community of birds more akin to northern Europe than to Iberia.

So the neighbours of the Skylark include the gorgeous Bluethroat that breeds in the high elevations in low scrub on flooded pastures, whereas the neighbours of the lowland larks include the arid-adapted Collared Pratincole (head of this post).

We will explore the mountains and the phenomenon of ecological change with altitude in the next posts.

No comments:

Post a Comment