Public presentation

21 June 2011

Dona, our mascot, is almost one year old. Full of strength and stamina, she loves running through the woods along animal trails. She also reminds us that the first anniversary of Fragas do Mandeo is approaching. To publicize what we’ve achieved so far, we’ve scheduled a series of public activities for early next month.

Picture of the leaflet of Fragas do MandeoIn order to spread the word about the anniversary and objectives of our entity, we have published a poster and a leaflet. If you want to help us by handing it out to your customers, workmates or members of your sports club or cultural association, please contact us. In section Contact you can find the necessary information.

Presentation ceremony

On Friday July 1st, at 8.00 p.m. in the Blue Room of the Liceo de Betanzos, we will talk about what land stewardship is and the work done in the first year of the nature conservation fund of As Marinas.

To liven up the event, the talk will be accompanied by two slide shows by specialists in photographing nature. The first will be a session of waterfowl images, taken by Álvaro Fernández Polo and Antonio Ramos Souto, allowing us to better understand the avifauna of the Ría de Betanzos and Galicia. The second one will consist of photographs of flora and fauna of the River Mandeo taken by Manuel Cañás.

Taking action

Picture of the poster announcing the presentation of Fragas do MandeoOn Sunday July 3rd, from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. in Ponte do Porco (Miño), we will remove garbage and invasive alien species from Alameda beach: sour fig (Carpobrotus edulis) and pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana). This activity has been authorised by the Dirección Xeral de Conservación da Natureza of Xunta de Galicia (Nature Conservation Agency) and by Demarcación de Costas de Galicia of Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino (Galician Coast Department), with the collaboration of Concello de Miño (Council of Miño) for waste transport and disposal.

Give us support

Also on Sunday July 3rd, from 11.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. in the Praza do Campo (Betanzos), we will hold a solidarity flea market to raise funds for land stewardship in As Mariñas. You can shop for bargains of all kinds (crafts, books, gifts, etc.), and even to contribute by donating the things you have at home that you don’t really need, but haven’t yet thrown away because they are new or in good condition.


Friday, July 1st:

  • 08.00 p.m. – Blue Room of the Liceo (Betanzos)
    Northwest, slide show of waterfowl images, by Álvaro Fernández Polo and Antonio Ramos Souto, of the Asociación Ornitolóxica Calidris
    Summary of the entity’s activities this year
    Treasures of the Mariñas, slide show of fauna and flora of the River Mandeo, by Manuel Cañas

Sunday, July 3rd:

  • 10.00 a.m. – Ponte do Porco (Miño)
    Garbage removal and elimination of invasive alien species
  • 11.00 a.m. – Do Campo Square (Betanzos)
    Solidarity flea market

The Little Bittern, a new species in the river estuary

29 May 2011

Photograph of a Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)This morning, three volunteers from Fragas do Mandeo watched with great satisfaction a Little Bittern in the Betanzos estuary. And for good reason: as far as we know it is the first observation of the species in this protected area.

The low tide was early in the morning, so the Little Bittern had to leave the shelter of the reedbed of A Cangrexeira and approach the water’s edge to fish. With its slow movement and its beautiful ochre-coloured plumage, nobody would notice it among the reeds, which it rarely leaves. It advanced in a cat-like manner, pausing every few minutes to pose like a statue, while scanning the water. Suddenly, his beak would dart down, harpoon-like, at some small fish: he would not usually fail. The sunny day, the open place where it stood and the long time it let us watch made the observation a pleasure.

The Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) is called “garza pequena” in Galician because it is the smallest species among the family Ardeidae in Galicia. Unlike herons and egrets, which are easily visible, Little Bitterns are very difficult to watch because of the characteristics of their habitat, their secretive habits, cryptic colour and crepuscular activity. Although it has a worldwide distribution, it is not abundant and its numbers seem to be decreasing. In the case of Galicia, the breeding population is estimated to be no more than two dozen pairs, so it is very important to maintain their habitat and avoid disturbing them deliberately.

Photograph of the Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)Virtually every weekend, volunteers from Fragas do Mandeo go to the Betanzos estuary to census waterfowl. Counting and close scrutiny allow the detection of population fluctuations and the presence of new species. Thus, in recent years, Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica) and Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) have been recorded as breeding species. It has also allowed observation of infrequent passage species, such as Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) or Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) in their juvenile dispersal period.

This observation of an adult female Little Bittern in late May opens new questions. Does it have a mate? Is it breeding in the estuary? Being a summer bird, what part of Africa might it migrate to in winter?

If you feel curious, go to the port of Betanzos and at its northern end you will find a great place for observation. If you don’t see the Little Bittern, at least you can enjoy the view of other waterfowl such as the Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus).

One flower and one book

17 May 2011

Photograph of the orchid Dactylorhiza elataAs the year progresses, the distinct flowering periods of different wildflowers species punctuate a subtle rhythm in the landscape. May has the reputation of being the month of flowers, and today, Galician Literature Day, we highlight a very literary flower, the orchid, and a book that will help us to get to know it.

Galician Orchids, unlike their tropical counterparts, have smaller flowers but are no less attractive when we look closely at them. Of the approximately 40 native species, most blossom around this month. Suited to calcareous soils, where we find the greatest diversity is to the south of Lugo and northeast of Ourense. But on the coast, because the shells of marine mollusks have created ideal conditions, they are also common.

Photograph of the orchid Dactylorhiza elataDactylorhiza elata is a very abundant species and easily found in our area. Right now we can observe it in bloom on the wet zone near the dunes of Alameda Beach (Ponte do Porco, Miño). But it also thrives in grassy areas, like the river banks at Miodelo (Bergondo), and even on roadsides. Photograph of the orchid Dactylorhiza elataThe stem of this orchid can be large, and is noted for its beautiful colour which ranges from pink to lilac, features that make it conspicuous.

Since it is not the only species which we can find, we recommend reading the Guía das orquídeas de Galicia, a guide by biologists Carlos Cortizo and Elvira Sahuquillo, published by Baía Edicións. This little book, besides allowing us to identify the various species due to its excellent photographs and descriptions, also serves as a perfect introduction to the exciting world of orchids.

Rewarded in the income tax declaration

20 April 2011

Logo of the 2010 income tax declaration campaign of the Spanish Tax AgencyRecently, the 2010 income tax declaration exercise having started, all our contributors received a small reward for their generosity. On their draft declaration of income tax, there is a deduction of 25% of their contribution to Fragas do Mandeo last year. Thus, they could recover a quarter of the amount donated.

We would like to encourage you to collaborate with Fragas do Mandeo bearing in mind that you can deduct from next year’s income tax up to 25% of the donation; in the case of companies, up to 35% in the corporate tax. If you need additional information, you can contact us or directly consult the Ley 49/2002 de régimen fiscal de las entidades sin fines lucrativos y de los incentivos fiscales al mecenazgo (law for the tax regulation for non-profit entities and fiscal incentives to patronage).

Having submitted the annual accounts before the protectorate today, we can say that we have successfully completed the first cycle of activity.

Thanks to all our contributors and volunteers.

We will talk about stewardship as part of the Aqua Plann

18 April 2011

Fragas do Mandeo has been invited to speak about land stewardship applied to the river environment within the VII Round Table on Water: “Management of River Ecosystems”, part of the public participation process in the project Aqua Plann, funded by Life+ of the European Union.

Logo of Aqua Plann ProjectScheduled for 4 and 5 May in the community centre of Figueroa (Abegondo, A Coruña), our presentation will take place on Thursday 5 at 12:00. We will explain the legal basis for land stewardship, outlining its evolution in the global context and its implementation in Spain, highlighting the work of the main Galician body in stewardship. Later on we will discuss the initiative of Fragas do Mandeo and we will detail the benefits of this legal instrument for the restoration and conservation of river ecosystems, with special reference to the rivers of the area of As Mariñas.

You can consult the programme and the contact information in VII Round Table on Water “Management of River Ecosystems”.

The colours of the fraga

6 April 2011

These days –late March and early April– are a delight for birdwatchers. Many species are busy carrying material with which to nest, and males sing unceasingly with all their strength to mark their territory. At this time some species are easily seen, while later, when they are already breeding, they will be much less bold, so that no predator detects where the chicks hide. For example, feeding among the leaves of the same grey willow we can easily see four species of tits: the coal tit (Parus ater), the blue tit (Parus caeruleus), the great tit (Parus major) and the long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus). Later on we will only seem them fleetingly go past.

But it is also a time to admire the natural landscape. Different tree species are coming into leaf, and changing their colour as they grow. The most advanced trees were the grey willows, with a bluish green colour that will turn to greyish green later on. Silver birches show a vivid green that contrasts with their white bark. Coppery leaves emerge from English oaks, which become green as they grow. Sweet chestnuts, far behind because they’ve not yet come into leaf, let us see the beautiful structure of their tops. In contrast, the dark green colour of the evergreen bay trees stands out. Thus, located at a good vantage point over a fraga (oceanic/atlantic native forest; the typical fragas contain wetland species such as oak, chestnut, holly and birch) we can clearly determine the composition of the indigenous forest.

From the centre of Fragas do Mandeo we see a small fraga of old oaks in which the village festival is celebrated. Behind the splendour of the fraga, the hill of A Espenuca rises in the distance. Do not expect to see on its slopes that mosaic of colours. There is only the gray colour of the eucalyptus affected by the weevil. The sadness of that colour goes on downhill as far as Chelo, hemming in the indigenous forest on the riverbank and in steeper areas.

It is a pity that such an emblematic corner of the area, the viewpoint to which we used to take our visitors to see out over the valley of the River Mandeo, has no one to defend it. Who cares that it is loosing all its scenic value? What entity or individual is doing something to reverse the situation?

In Fragas do Mandeo we are trying. Give us a hand!

Turbulent spring

21 March 2011

The spring came this year accompanied by news of massive natural disasters, severe nuclear accidents, social upheavals and wars. Some people link all these events and think it is the result of how badly we are treating this planet.

In Fragas do Mandeo we don’t go that far. But we agree in that we do not take care of our planet well enough, both in remote locations, and on our doorstep.

It is common to hear about the beauty of nature, that it is necessary to take care of it, to protect biodiversity or the need to instill love for nature in children.

But the truth is that few make the slightest effort. Very few contribute with their work or their donations.

We beg you to make your annual review: How many activities did you take part in in the last twelve months to improve the environment? How much did you donate to protect habitats and species?

Do not think only about the times you went hiking, or picnicking on the riverbanks, the mushrooms you collected in the autumn or the hours you spent watching birds… You may also think about the times you went to clean up garbage left by others, and the times when you removed invasive species, or injured wild animals that you took to a rehabilitation centre.

Fragas do Mandeo is a means to protect nature in the As Mariñas area. Please help us with donations and volunteering, with the free time you have and with the money you can do without.

But there are also many other organizations with experience and effectiveness with which you can help. For us the important thing is to protect nature, one way or another, in our country or in exotic places, on land or in the seas, with our organization or others. Just choose the one you like most.

Please choose to involve yourself in the conservation of our planet!

Fragas do Mandeo, an example of concern for woodland

8 March 2011

The declaration of 2011 as International Year of Forests is focusing his gaze on the state of our native forests.

Logo of newspaper “La Voz de Galicia”The distinguished Galician botanist Javier Guitián, professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela and director of the Research Station in O Courel, published today in the newspaperLa Voz de Galicia a short article entitled I get on an oak. With his usual talent, he goes from the defence of the redwoods in the U.S. to alerting us about the disappearance of ancient forests in Galicia, demanding greater attention to them.

We thank Professor Guitián for choosing us as an example of public concern about what is happening to our forests.

Make sure you read the articles in his bittersweet column –at times funny, at times sad at the apathy of our society–, in which he shows much concern for the conservation of biodiversity and the rural world. You will learn much and will enjoy his entertaining literary style.

Flowers in the middle of winter

10 February 2011

There are still many days left of the winter, but one can already see how the daylight hours have increased significantly since the solstice, around December 21.

Nature, in expectancy of these changes, organizes its annual cycles according to the length of days. Although we associate flowers with spring, the truth is that we can see large clusters of flowers in the hazel trees in our riverside deciduous woodland (Corylus avellana). In the undergrowth, taking advantage of a still bare tree cover, (Primula acaulis) flowers abound and vivid yellow daffodils (Narcissus spp.) brighten the landscape. Even wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) start to open the tiny buds, revealing white petals.

Indeed, the most attractive tree at this time is the mimosa (Acacia dealbata). Its flowering is spectacular, a sea of small yellow flowers. This explains why this invasive species has been planted in gardens. Today, widespread through the woods, it is a threat to our natural ecosystems. This time of year is precisely the moment to assess the extent of colonization in this area. We have to recommend the removal of these trees, keeping them just where their ornamental function makes sense.

Several species of birds are forming pairs and looking for suitable sites for nests. Some, like magpies (Pica pica), have already been seen carrying sticks in their beaks. Our pet Dona, meanwhile, is growing and is already seven months old and thirty kilos, showing herself full of life and a bit scatterbrained.

Meanwhile, in Fragas do Mandeo, we are still working at the computer surrounded by paper. Among other tasks, we submitted the tax declaration of the 2010 donations, which will allow these private donors to have their generosity rewarded with a deduction on their tax returns (income tax) of 25% of the amount contributed.

The beginning of the year is also the time to submit grant applications to companies and authorities. Although we could not find any call for grants aimed at the primary purpose of Fragas do Mandeo (property acquisition for conservation), we will certainly take the opportunity to apply for grants that enable activities related to land stewardship.

So, we want to point out again that if we want to keep our landscape and our ecosystems, we must provide our own resources. A donation, however small the amount, without obligation, will allow Fragas do Mandeo to acquire land with ecological value in the region and will ensure its conservation.

Think about it, and don’t delay.

TV interview

7 January 2011

Logo of Televisión de Galicia (Galician public television)On December 14, Televisión de Galicia (Galician public television) visited and filmed the lands under our care, in order to know on location the initiative of Fragas do Mandeo. They interviewed our President and Vice President, who had the opportunity to explain the reasons for the creation of this entity and its objectives.

Dona, our mascot, didn’t miss the meeting either, proving herself to be a bit shy in front of the camera.

The interview will be broadcasted next Tuesday, January 11, at 14:05 h on the program Natureza of TVG (Galician public television).

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