The Flora and Fauna of Menorca

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The flora and fauna give an initial impression to first time visitors of a landscape quite different from its sister islands of Mallorca and Ibiza due to the island's wealth of flora and fauna.

Inevitably the journey from the airport takes visitors into rural areas and past woods and thickets of pine and wild olive trees. Historically the island was covered by Oak Groves but the need to utilise the scarce water resources has lead to the increase in trees with impermeable leaves and the dominance of evergreens over oaks. Other trees which are in decline are the carob tree, the almond, the fig and the olive trees.

menorcan flower,flora

However if one looks beneath the trees you will find mastichs, buckthorn, tree strawberries, heather, broom, juniper, oleander and blackberry bushes. Look even further towards the ground for flora and fauna and you will see liliaceous plants such as wild asparagus, arum plants such as friar's cowl and orchids of yellow and blue called mosques or fly orchids. Beach lilies grow in the dunes and giant reeds around the Menorcan wetlands.

The most noticable wildlife is in the sky above the whole islands. Particularly as summer approaches the bird population swells as swallows, swifts, great black headed gulls and bee eaters migrate from north africa. The wetland areas are magnets for all types of birds but Albufera des Grau is worthy of special note. Here you can see not only the resident bird population but a great diversity of species who use the island as their breeding grounds. It is possible for the keen eyed observer to see mallard ducks, American coots, king quail, reedwarblers, storks, grebes, sharp tailed sandpipers, pochards and stone curlew. Throughout the year predatory and carrion birds visit such as osprey, booted eagle and red kite. Against this backdrop are falcons, kestrals, buzzards, hawk owls, tawny owls and barn owls.

menorcan horse,wildlife,black horse

menorcan tortoise,wildlife,reptile

The next most noticable group are the lizards and especially the wall lizards which frequent villas, hotel rooms and terraces especially in the early evenings. The geckos are one of the islands most successful reptiles but you may also see mediterranean tortoise and small, non poisonous, snakes especially in the barrancas which dominate the landscape of the migjorn or southern region.

The lizard is an integral part of island legends, songs and today is emlematic of the island . There are believed to be over 30 varieties of lizards on the island but the most unusual variety inhabits the Illa del Aire just off the coast by Punta Prima. This lizard or sargantanes to give it its Catalan name is completely black. They are a protected species but if you get the chance to visit the islet you will not need to search for them as they will come to you in anticipation of crumbs from your food.

menorcan gecko,wildlife,lizard

Between the birds and the reptiles you will find martins, ferrets, weasels, rabbits, bats field mice and hedgehogs making up the small mammal population.

Larger mammals native to Menorca include the Red Cows and the Black Horses. You may not see any of these magnificent beasts with their distinctive reddish coats but this indigenous breed is currently staging a comeback as the recovery of the breed is proving very successful as their high milk yield is becoming increasingly important the the islands dairy industry.

The black horse is symbolic of Menorca and are thus the Kings of the mammal population. Their position is assured as they remain the the leading players in Fiestas up and down the island. This indigenous breed is noted for its good looks and placid temperament. It almost appears that they are aware of their role as center of attention and are willing to respond to the crowd especially when dressed in their fine harnesses.

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