Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Things to see in the winter of the Irati forest

This winter we are having unusually high temperatures for this time of year, and we have enjoyed precious days for walks through the forests.But some might think that going to the forest in winter, when the trees have no leaves, not worth it, but nevertheless, there is always many things to see, if you are ready.This photo is taken from the hill of Soraluze, near the western boundary of the forest of Irati, and important area with abundant megalithic dolmens and cromlech. Here goes the GR-12, or Euskalherria path.Nearby is Mount Urkulu, with the ruins of the ancient Roman tower keeping Astorga_Burdeaux Roman road, which passes close from here. In the background, you can see Mount Ori, eastern boundary of the forest of Irati, 2017 meters high, in the neighboring valley of Salazar

Dolmen of Soraluze (Aezkoa Valley,Navarre)

In this photo we have several starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). The black starlings (Sturnus unicolor) are such that sometimes we often forming large flocks at dusk when seeking roosts. These have come here to spend the winter, from  northern lands. Black starlings there are not commons in Irati  forest , but every year they are increasing their limits more to the north and more of them.
There are several good links on these birds.This bird web is from Argentina, where it is an invasive species and  they have many problems with it:

Very near  from Soraluze we can see the remains of this dried beech that seem to have gunned.Big chips line the grass at 180 º from where they have been detached by a type of woodpecker. If you look closely, you will see a very round hole in the top right of  the trunk, in the shadows.Is an old nest of a type of woodpecker.All this disaster had a purpose, that of finding succulent larvae that feed on dead wood, and the birds take to force the rotten wood chipping.

Here we are just 50 meters from the first, another dead tree with two old nests of woodpeckers,one forward and one to the right.
In an area of ​​grass near the edge of the forest, we found this  Badger´s(Meles meles) latrine. These animals deposit their droppings always in the same place. In this  one,we can see that has been used in at least three times, and in the first, fed on fruits with small seeds, probably wild rose, whose orange fruits remain  in the branches during part of the winter, and we can eat after removing the irritating hairs containing inside. They have lots of vitamin C.

In the trunk of a beech, we find this rare saprophyte fungus, (that feeds on dead matter) whose species, honestly it was the first time I watched. Probably is somewhat deteriorated. I put an euro coin on top of it so it can distinguish the size.If anyone knows what species can be treated, I would greatly appreciate the information.

In the reservoir water of Irabia (Aezkoa,Navarre)we found this  Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) perched a top a pole. We can see them throughout the year, but also have some of them during  the winter of the north . They measure about 1 meter in length and  a wingspan of 1.50 m. approx. They eat fish, and their presence, which increases without know very well the reasons (there was not a few decades ago in these valleys, but it seems that they lived here in the past) is for many people one of the causes of the decline of the trout population of Navarre Pyrenean rivers.

 To learn more about their food:

Great Cormorant( Phalacrocorax carbo)

When we were leaving, we found two deer (Cervus elaphus) that ran for cover, but occasionally stopped to see what we were doing. That's when twe took photos, Before they came together in flight

In short, nature has a lot to offer us, wherever we go, wherever we are.