Spanish king quarrels with British government on Gibraltar


This 4 April 2017 video is called Gibraltar accuses Spain of ship incursion.

Both Britain and Spain at the moment have wobbly right-wing minority governments. Both are European Union allies for the time being. Both are NATO military allies. Nevertheless, recently a politician of the ruling British Conservative party threatened Spain with a Falklands/Malvinas style war about Gibraltar.

And now, King Felipe VI of Spain has counterattacked while on a state visit to Britain. Though he did not (yet) threaten to send an ‘invincible’ Spanish armada to England like his predecessor Felipe II did in 1588

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Spanish king risks diplomatic row after raising Gibraltar during state visit to Britain

King Felipe raises issue during speech in Parliament

Arj Singh, TONY JONES, Andrew Woodcock

Gibraltar has criticised the king of Spain for saying the governments of his country and Britain will find a solution on the Rock’s future that is “acceptable to all involved”.

King Felipe raised the thorny issue as he addressed MPs and peers at the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament during his state visit.

Crested lark on video


This is a crested lark video.

I saw these beautiful birds in, eg, Spain.

91-year-old Spanish woman buries her father, murdered by Franco, at last


This video says about itself:

A step closer to justice for victims of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain

24 February 2016

An Argentine judge has ordered the exhumation of the remains of Timoteo Mendieta. He was executed by Franco’s forces at the end of Spain’s civil war and dumped in an unmarked mass grave on the edge of Guadalajara’s municipal cemetery.

This is a big victory for his daughter, 90-years old Ascension Mendieta, who had to travel to Argentina to get the right to give her father a proper burial.

From Reuters news agency:

Sun Jul 2, 2017 | 12:04pm EDT

Spanish Civil War victim’s 91-year-old daughter finally buries her father

By Juan Medina | MADRID

On the cusp of her 92nd birthday and after decades of waiting and uncertainty, Ascensión Mendieta, daughter of a victim of political violence killed almost 80 years previously, finally buried her father on a bright Sunday morning in Madrid. Hundreds of mourners turned out to attend the non-religious ceremony in Madrid for Timoteo Mendieta, a trade unionist shot in the months following the Spanish Civil War and buried in a mass grave in a Guadalajara cemetery.

The search for Timoteo Mendieta’s remains marks the first instance of graves being dug on the orders of an Argentine judge in a lawsuit seeking redress for crimes committed during the 1936-1939 civil war and the almost four-decade dictatorship of General Francisco Franco that followed.

“(Burying Timoteo) means the end of a cycle and the end of a tremendous battle against the Spanish state, which has been, I would say, very cruel to families who have relatives in mass graves,” Francisco Vargas Medienta, grandson of Timoteo, said after the funeral.

Attending the ceremony accompanied by her three children, Ascensión Mendieta held a bouquet of flowers decorated in the red, purple and gold of the Second Spanish Republic, which was overthrown by the forces loyal to Franco.

Among those paying their respects were relatives of victims of the Franco regime, several of them currently in the process of fighting their own legal battles to obtain exhumation orders to search for murdered family members.

In the Guadalajara cemetery mass graves alone, there are an estimated 800 victims of political violence, according to the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH), a non-profit group that works to recognize victims of the war.

Following the Guadalajara exhumation, around 100 families of victims believed to be buried there requested help to identify remains.

In an effort to smooth a 1977 transition to democracy, Spain passed an amnesty law pardoning political crimes committed in the past – the so-called “Pact of Forgetting“.

Some exhumations began in 2000, though the resting place for many victims are still unknown. The ARMH has documented 114,226 cases of men and women buried in mass graves around Spain.

“There are at least 3,000 mass graves. We’re not even sure exactly how many, but it’s a lot,” said Emilio Silva, head of the ARMH.

Ascensión Mendieta – who was 13 when she unwittingly opened the door to the men who took her father away – has repeatedly said she hopes the case of Timoteo serves to highlight the large numbers of remains still unidentified.

Francisco Vargas Mendieta said that the experience left his mother, and many like her, emotionally scarred, and that activists would continue working to identify the dead.

“My mother has always lived with this wound,” Vargas said. “And there are many people like her even now. We are not going to stop until the maximum number of people possible are able to take flowers to those who were executed, or until these people receive a dignified burial.”

Historians estimate as many as 500,000 combatants and civilians were killed on the Republican and Nationalist sides in the war. After it ended, tens of thousands of Franco’s enemies were killed or imprisoned in a campaign to wipe out dissent.

(Writing and reporting by Sam Edwards in Barcelona, editing by David Evans)

Booted eagle video


This is a booted eagle video.

I was privileged to see these birds in Spain.

Lesser kestrel video


This is a lesser kestrel video.

I was privileged to see these beautiful birds in Spain.

Spanish plover couples fight climate change


This video says about itself:

5 jun. 2016

Kentish Plover family in a northern Valencia coastal wetland (Spain)

By FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology:

Breeding pairs of birds cooperate to resist climate change

June 5, 2017

Summary: Most bird chicks need parental care to survive. In biparental species the chicks have greater chances of success if both parents participate in this task, especially under hostile situations. An international team of scientists has revealed that when temperatures rise, males and females in pairs of plovers shift incubation more frequently.

Climate change causes ecological variation and affects the lives of animals. The ever-earlier springs and later autumns caused by rising temperatures cause changes to animals’ physiology, breeding seasons and even population distributions. However, little is still known about how animals behave in response to these disturbances.

A team of scientists, working in collaboration with the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC), has studied the influence of climate change on incubation in plovers (Charadrius spp.), a genus of shorebirds spread over six continents, with a total of 33 species.

Many plover species nest on the ground in sites where there is no plant cover to detect more easily approaching predators, but where their nests receive direct sunlight.

“This can represent a significant challenge,” as indicated by Juan A. Amat, a researcher at the EBD and one of the authors of the study, which was published recently in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

The scientist adds that the situation can become complicated for birds in the middle of the day, “when incubating adults may not be able to tolerate the high temperatures.” Typically, the optimum temperature adults provide for embryonic development is 35-39 ºC.

“In many bird species where both mates participate in incubation, one sex, generally the female, incubates by day, while the other (the male) does it by night,” Amat explains. However, under hot conditions greater cooperation would be needed between males and females.

Males participate in daytime incubation

One solution under changing climates would be to shorten the duration of incubation shifts between the sexes. The paper, which was led by the University of Bath (United Kingdom), analysed the behaviour of 36 populations of 12 plover species. Its results reveal that male plovers assist the females during daytime incubation.

“Males’ participation in daytime incubation increases both with ambient temperature and with as the variability of maximum temperatures during the incubation period,” the expert stresses.

The research demonstrates that a rise in temperature changes these bird pairs’ behaviour and their daily routine in terms of nest attendance. “This flexibility of parental cooperation would facilitate responses to the impact of climate change on populations’ reproductive biology,” explains Amat, who considers that the reason behind the male’s increased help is the need to better protect the embryos from extreme conditions.

Previous studies have confirmed that environmental instability has an influence on the early stage of reproduction and the lives of birds, and that unpredictable variations in the environment also affect how bird pairs cooperate in caring for their offspring. The conclusion of this new paper is that climate variations strongly influence parental cooperation.

Highly protected marine reserves can help mitigate against the impacts of climate change, a study by a team of international scientists has concluded: here.

Spanish plants, new discoveries


This video says about itself:

Clovenlip toadflax (Linaria maroccana) – 2016-09-15

Linaria maroccana is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family known by the common name clovenlip toadflax. It is native to Morocco, but it can be found elsewhere as an introduced species and it is cultivated as an ornamental plant.

From Plataforma SINC in Spain:

Spanish plant misclassified for 176 years

June 1, 2017

Summary: Surprisingly, there are still plant species waiting to be discovered in the Iberian Peninsula. Some are detected thanks to the latest study methods, and others, such as Linaria becerrae, are described when reinterpreting species which are already known. This new Málaga plant had been classified by mistake for 176 years.

Surprisingly, there are still plant species waiting to be discovered in the Iberian Peninsula. Some are detected thanks to the latest study methods, and others, such as Linaria becerrae, are described when reinterpreting species which are already known. This new Málaga plant had been classified by mistake for 176 years.

The genus Linaria has about 150 species distributed throughout Europe, North Africa, and central and western Asia, but its main centre of diversity is in the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb. It is there that exclusive plants are found, discovered during the last two centuries, with very small distribution areas, sometimes threatened with extinction.

In Spain, in 1841, the Swiss botanist Pierre Edmond Boissier described the species Linaria salzmanii, which was named in honour of the botanist Philipp Salzmann who contributed to the knowledge of Iberian flora. Thanks to the material from Güéjar Sierra in Granada that Boissier analysed, it was determined that the plant was typical of sandy substrates, often dolomitic (rocky), and was found in the provinces of Granada, Málaga and Jaén.

But, in his visit to our country in 1837, the scientist never actually came to check the presence of the species near the town of El Chorro, in the western part of the province of Malaga, due to the likely existence of bandits. This has led to an error that lasted for almost two centuries.

Scientists from the universities of Granada and Almería have now carried out an exhaustive analysis of the populations of this species, and have observed that the plants found in Málaga differ significantly from those found in Granada: they have flowers with a long and straight spur, which are uniform in colour and intensely violet, except for a yellow spot at the entrance to the tube of the corolla (the area called the palate), with subtle violet veins.

“These and other considerations led our team to the description of the new species, Linaria becerrae. By mistake, it had previously been considered that the species described by Boissier was that of Málaga,” explains Gabriel Gabrielto, one of the authors of the study published in Phytotaxa and a researcher at the University of Granada.

The plant has been named in honour of the botanist from Málaga, Manuel Becerra Parra, who had already recorded the differences between the Linaria species in the province of Malaga, and promoted this work.

A plant in need of protection

At present, the original population of Linaria salzmanii has disappeared due to the construction of the Canales dam, and Linaria becerrae is now considered exclusive of the west of the province of Málaga, where it lives in areas bordering the protected natural area of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, a well-known tourist site. The species forms communities of rapidly developing grasses in sandy substrates resulting from the decomposition of molasses (conglomerates and detrital sandstones).

“Although it is frequent in this area, the reach of this type of substrates is very small, so it should be part of the catalogue of protected species,” suggests Blanca, for whom there are still species to be discovered not only by misinterpretations as in the case of this Málaga plant, but also for the detection of new organisms thanks to resolute methods of study.

In fact, with the application of molecular biology or the existence of exhaustive reference works to better detect any novelties, the team that has described L. becerrae has recently published five new species in eastern Andalusia: Tragopogon lainzii, Galatella malacitana, Sisymbrium isatidifolium, Rivasmartinezia cazorlana and Teucrium teresianum.