Sunday, April 29, 2012

Because of the altitude, in some lower  places of Navarre  three weeks ago they started flowering, but  is now, when we  can see them in flowering ,always in places where water is near , either surface or underground.

grey willow(Salix atrocinerea)

In the streams or between the wood, now we can see trees of white or yellowish flowers  in the case of plants with male flowers, and green in the case of plants with female flowers.
It measures about 11 meters high.It grows fast and usually die soon, in the scale of Time of the trees.

Its wood is not very good quality, but like all willows, especially in its bark and flowers, there is the active ingredient called Salicin, from which later would take the salicylic acid (Does it sound?) Popularly known as aspirin . Today, this acid is synthetic, no  from the plant.

Smell their leaves, or scrunch up a dry twig in yours hands and then   you will remember that smell like the medicine cabinet.!

 Male Flowers

Although it may be obvious, one might note that the leaves will sprout later than we now see, though not so in all species.

If that might be interesting to tell who has not had a chance to look, that species removed before the leaves are often the first to lose them , so I think that seems to have a certain number of days in which plants have leaves ,and  would change in deciduous species would be the time at which they start.
In any case, the weather will happen before or later.


About woodpeckers

These images were recorded in July 2011 by Cristina Montoya, Irati guard in the valley of Aezkoa(Navarre) and worker of Itarinatura green tourism company.

This is a male white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos sp. Lilfordi) a type of woodpecker is distinguishable from the female by its red head.

He's making a hole in the wood to reach the larvae and  eat.

The highest density of this species in the Iberian peninsula and south of France is in the forest of Irati, with 0.57 couple/100  hectares, followed  of Quinto real(Navarre), with 0'34couple / 100 ha. (Fernandez 1997).

Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)

In Irati forest,apart from white-backed woodpecker , we have several species of woodpeckers; wrynecks (Jynx torquilla), difficult to see from his mimicry, Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis), which is large and yellow-lime green when we seen flying, and quite common, the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), versatile in their feeding and the largest of them, the great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), abundant in the forests Navarre, and the Middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius) very rare.
Until few days ago,we have been hearing his drumming on logs,  theirs songs, and quite often, if you know where to look, watching some of them eating and even making nests, always being very respectfull as any other species, animal as a vegetable.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vegetal life in the forest before spring;Pre-springs plants



  In deciduous forests, as in the beech forest of Irati, there is a brief period of light from about March to May, when the sun is high enough to allow rapid growth of plants, before sprout the leaves of the beeches.

        Beech forest in Irati in the beginning of spring bloom

    To take advantage of this light, the plants must to have a fully developed set of leaves in March. Where are the leaves? More or less formed within the bulb along with stored food.
Walking through the beech forest in late winter and spring,we can find blue carpets,white,yellow ...
is the awakening of prevernales plants.

True oxlip (Primula elatior)


Common Woodsorrel(Oxalis acetosella)

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Windflower (Anemone nemorosa)

Squill  (Scilla lilio-hyacinthus)

    Those that grow from bulbs. But what are the bulbs? Most people think that they are roots, but when we took him out of the ground, we find other roots that emerge from the bulb. In essence, they are leaf bases (leaves) swollen, full of food reserves, usually around the stem, completly white. When they emerge to the outside , we can see their leaves, stems and flowers blooming.  But within this group of flowers, there is one able to challenge the worst weather: snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis ). The bulbs sprout sometimes, like this year, through the snow, between January and February (depending on  the year).

But in the beech forest floor Irati or along the river,  we found also in early spring, two plants quite striking. Not for its beauty but for its feeding: parasitic plants.
They have no green leaves or roots and take their food from the roots of their hosts.

In the beech forest is easy to discover with a pink and purple tone between toothwort. The toothwort  parasite tree roots, especially in areas of poor drainage. You know, that beeches like having feet dry,and when their feet puddles, often have problems. The plants like these, can only see when emerge from the ground for pollination and seed dispersal. for this reason,the
Latin name Lathraea clandestina( Underground).

                                                                               Toothwort(Lathraea clandestina)

   But the most remarkable parasitic plant is escumaria (Lathraea squamaria). It´s also parasitic of hazel roots and  Wych Elm. For this reason, their habitat is wetter. Irati river is a good place to find, although not very abundant.

Common Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria)

And how can to parasite? their get to create a kind of suckers, like a pad, which penetrate host tissues, reaching the system that transports nutrients. The escumaria has extensive underground stems and at intervals these stems emerge to form aerial stems, flowers carriers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Deers, foxes and badgers

Forest mammals often receive the spring very hungry, after the shortage of  the winter.Por this reason, spring is a good time to see them because now,they risk a little bit more than in the rest of the year.

Deers grazing in Irati.

  In this photo taken a few days ago near the swamp of Irabia ,we  can see two deers (Cervus elaphus) in formation of their horns and a third which does not distinguish good  what sex it is.Sometimes you can see groups of up to 20 people eating next to the cows, mares or sheeps.As Irati combines extensive grazing areas and forests, is an ideal place for these animals.The deer were reintroduced in Irati in 1957, after their extinction in the same place in the early twentieth century.

A hind running away

In any case, is timid, very scary and can smell or hear us  from the distance.The  Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus),is another type of ungulate that has Irati, like deer, but much smaller, and large ears.These photos were taken by Ziaurritz Puy, a biologist  and worker of our company Itarinatura natur guides.


Red fox(Vulpes vulpes) on the run

However, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes),  is easier to see, because it is less shy.In this occasion was eating the remains of a mare dead  in winter, 100 meters from  the road to the  water reservoir of Irabia from the  Arrazola information point.Is not easy to find in the photo. You have to look at the bones of the horse to the edge of the woods , an a little to the right.


In this case, this poor Badger, beaten by a car died in the  road  of access to Irati.  they are nocturnal animals, and often decide to cross the road at the worst moment.For this reason,it is very important to drive slowly. If instead of a badger would have been a  wild  boar,  could have been the car who is  in the ditch , as happens on many occasions.

Badger (meles meles) hit in access to Irati.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

the first leaves and more flowers

In Irati we have two species of elder, one is the common Elder (Sambucus nigra) with whose flowers can make a delicious elderberry champagne ,with  their fruits jams, and is very abundant.
Another one is the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), quite scarce and in the Iberian Peninsula their distribution is restricted to Pyrenees and close mountains.
In Irati both are now getting leaves, although in lower areas they began three weeks ago.

Red elderberry(Sambucus Racemosa)

First leaves of the black elder

We should necesary not confuse the black elder with  the Dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus) which is very toxic, and we can to differentiate from the black elderberry  because the Dwarf elder are  not have woody stems , they are green, and  smell bad.                       

Other trees that  are now in bloom  or removing the leaves are the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) With their fruits we make the "Patxaran" , well-known alcoholic beverage of Basque origin; patxaran: Basa (wild/ forest) + Aran (plum /valley .), because their fruits are really small plum fruits, very acidic and astringent that  their have never been crossed with other species to increase their size and sweetness.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)


Red Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) and
common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) both  are in the Irati  forest of Aezkoa, because this is a transition zone between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean climate.They  have  begun sprout  their leaves.Their fruits, called in some parts of Navarre " Shepherd´s little apples" are edible but with very few use to have a big bone on the inside that makes the amount of meat in almost neligible. For lot of wildlife, mammals and  birds, they are a  very important meal,and  is not unusual to see  excrements  of the wildlife  with many bones of this shrub.

In this photo from March 31 of this year, we can see a young  Willow (Salix  atrocinerea) sprouting, inspired by the good weather we were having.

 Common willow (Salix  atrocinerea)

There are other  plants in flowering, typical of spring, like this violets, or the primroses  of  the photo below, which in Irati  we have two classes, the Cowslip (primula veris) and True oxlip  (Primula elatior), lack the first and more common the second one.
they have medicinal uses, but prímulaVeris, especially, is scarce and should not be used for such purposes because  there are plants with similar virtues and more abundants

European dog violet(viola riviana)

True oxlip  Prímula elatior

Cowslip (Primula veris)