Sunrise on steppe

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Sunrise on steppe, a red-legged Partridge (click to see the video) walks fearfully between shrubland, always paying attention to any suspicious noise, always ready to take flight. This species represents a key hub in food-web of the semi arid steppe and a link between humans and the ecosystem through environmental management because it is one of the most important hunting species.

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One of the smallest desert dwellers

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Garden Dormous (Eliomys quercinus)

This small mammal has a wide ecological range, occurring from the deciduous and mixed forests of north Europe to the arid shrublands in the southeastern. In Tabernas desert (Almería, Spain) is quite abundant. It eats invertebrates such as moths, beetles and butterflies along the year and fruits in autumn. It has nocturnal behaviour and prefers to move under the shelter of dense shrublands (e.g. Tamarix spp.) in seasonal streams or between big rocks. In this film, it can be seen out of the hole where it sleeps under large boulders. In Tabernas, the Garden Dormouse is also prey of the Stone marten, Red fox, Eurasian Eagle Owl and Little Owl between others.

The phantom of the river

My beautiful picture
The phantom of the river

The riparian environments in Mediterranean landscapes are good places to look for carnivore signs. Last night, we placed our cameras near the Andarax riverbank (Almería, Spain) at 700 meters altitude. Our capture had a poor quality (header image) but close to that place we also found some footprints of Common Genet (image below):

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Footprints of Common genet

We think that the phantom of the  river could be a Common genet. A Red fox (very abundant in that zone) could also be, although if we compare the header image with another image of low quality made in a different place some years ago (image below), there are many features in favor of the Common genet. Any opinion about this?.

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Red fox

Red fox cubs

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Last spring our cameras recorded a female ref fox (Vulpes vulpes) with a partridge in its mouth. A few days later, we knew for whom it was. In the same area where we captured the female: a place protected by large rocks within the natural landscape of Tabernas desert (Almería, Spain), three fox cubs started their first steps in the vicinity of their burrow. This film shows intimate moments of wildlife and very difficult to see. We do not know if the three cubs have survived, but what is clear is the adaptation capacity and ecological success of the red fox in arid environments, because of the last spring was very hardly due to poor rains at autumn and winter and probably other species have not bred in this year.

Any luck tonight?

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This spring is being very hard because last both winter and autumn were specially dry. For this reason, survival in the southeast arid Europe is almost an impossible mission. Only the most skillful individuals will achieve it, the natural selection is ruthless. Few species will get breedings in this year, perhaps this red fox (Vulpes vulpes) could be one of them. It has captured a partridge (Alectoris rufa) and it was going to a quite place to eat it when we captured it with the camera trap. Wildlife moments in the Protected Natural Area of Tabernas (Almería, Spain).

Mammals coexisting with humans

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Socio-ecosystems are natural units associated to human environments and activities. Traditional rural landscapes, interpreted as socio-ecosystems, have contributed to maintain and increase biodiversity. But… What happen at urban habitat interface and adjacent natural areas?. These spaces are usually very fragmented by roads and residential zones. We are surveying the mammal diversity in fragmented patches near urban areas but with high availability of food resources, to see if this fact is more important than  the proximity to human structures and activities. Red fox is one of the most adaptable species to human environments. The image above shows an individual at the proximities of  some greenhouses and a recycling plant of agriculture residuals. We found a lot of scats with traces of red peppers. Probably, it ate them from the garbage.

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A Red fox masked its smell

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A Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) visits a badger´s latrines zone. This film shows how it rubbed with the scent of our bait (aromatic oil). We think that it wanted to disguise its own scent because it was into the badger´s territory. Or perhaps, it liked so much the bait that it wanted to scent itself.

Wildlife crossing

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Culvert is a type of wildlife crossing that allows connection between habitats, combating habitat fragmentation. Badgers, red foxes, hedgehogs, stone martens are usually users of these structures in the highway which crosses the arid landscape the north from Protected Natural Area of Cabo de Gata. This film shows an european badger (Meles meles) crossing the Mediterranean highway (A-7) using this important structure for wildlife conservation.

Cubs game

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Tender film in the arid steppe. Two young red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) playing under the watchful eyes of their mother. Games between offspring are very important for their future. So, they strengthen and learn to hunt. Last summer we recorded a group of four or five young red foxes which born in a old quarry of aggregate.