Wildlife from Nuevo Baztan
It is surprising to observe how the different existing ecosystems in the Vega stream’s surrounding area are still quite well preserved. Concerning avifauna, several winter as well as summer species find their shelter in the riverside groves, obtaining their food in nearby gullies. Jay birds, blackbirds, hedge sparrows and Cetti’s warblers will be (amongst many others) the easiest to observe or listen. While the luckiest visitors could even watch the golden eagle circling over their position, or the goshawk flying out of the thicket with a really fast flapping of its wings. And the summer nights will bring a particular call filling the air, the arrival of the scops owls will join the call of the master of the night, the great eagle owl (Bubo bubo).
This landscape, formed by portuguese oaks, open country and gullies, provides accomodation for quite a large community of mammals. With the last light of the setting sun, a specially discreet walker could catch a glimpse of the fleeting roaming of the wildcat, or maybe discover a clever fox surprised in the middle of a narrow path. It could be also easy to run into a roe deer in the grove boundaries. And if we keep silence, a herd of wild boars may appear, rooting among the thick bramble bushes and elder trees.
Hidden by darkness, genets and beech martens would start their wanderings searching for small sleeping birds, only revealed by their footprints and excrements.
These are not the best times for such hunting species like rabbits and hares, but there are still groups of both of them living in this area, with an enormous fluctuaction in their number from year to year.
Regarding predominant plant communities, different botanical associations can be pointed out, depending on altitude and lighting incidence. According to these conditions, and after the disastrous appearance of the Dutch elm disease (in the 80’s), which caused the almost complete extintion of elms all over this area, the main forest formations of the valley are composed by portuguese oaks, replaced by holm oaks in the sunlight zones.
Little isolated patches of holm oak woods can still be found, bearing witness of the former woods which covered the landscape. In some of the inner parts of the valley, we can also find relict patches of forest formed by Montpellier Maple (survivors from the glaciation period). The predominant Kermes oak presides the undergrouth, acompanied by patches of rockroses.
The riverside groves and gullies are covered with mixed groups of reed beds, bramble bushes and elder trees, presenting to the walker the appearance of thick green walls. The flowering plant ensemble will surely catch the visitors attention, including several types of orchids which are specially remarkable, as well as peonies and lavender, covering the fields with a fragrant and colourful spring carpet.