Pirineos de Navarra

LANDSCAPES, FLORA AND FAUNA

The Navarran Pyrenees is characterised by a large natural variety and diversity, which offers beautiful and surprising landscapes. The mountain range gradually flattens from east to west: from the imposing escarpments of the Larra massif, through the large expanses of beech woodland in the Irati Forest, or the depth of the Arbaiun gorge to the rolling hills and green meadows of the Atlantic Pyrenees. To the far west, the karst landscapes of the Aralar mountain range and the Urbasa-Andia Natural Park mark the natural ending point of this mountain range.

Hence the flora and fauna found here is very diverse, and are particularly conditioned by altitude. In any case, the sharp relief causes the geographic proximity of ecosystems to be very different.

Depending on the altitude, there are 3 main zones.

Lowlands and Middle mountain

Roble milenario en Jaunsarats

1.- Lowlands: corresponds to the lowest area and is located on the two extremes of the Pyrenees. The southern part of the eastern area is Mediterranean in nature and is composed of holm oak varieties, dry pastures and other shrubs. The far west is Atlantic in nature, with oak forests and mixed deciduous woods.

2.- Middle mountain: is the area that covers between 500 to 1700 metres. It is divided into two levels: lower or sub-mountain, of sub-Mediterranean type, covered with oaks, gall oaks, boxwood and blue aphyllanthes; and the higher or mountainous part, with deciduous woods (beech, firs) and common pine.

The forests in both levels have a rich and varied  fauna:

On the one hand birds such as blackbirds, thrushes, great tits, blue tits, robins, hedge sparrows, finches and the noisy jays, and on the other hand, nocturnal birds of prey such as the long-eared owl and the tawny owl, or day-light hunters such as the buzzard, the bald eagle and the red kite.

We can also find a large amount of wild boar, deer, roe deer, foxes, squirrels, martens, common genets, rabbits and hares, among other mammals. And beneath the trees there is another beautiful inhabitant: the wildcat. Regarding the largest of all the mammals, the brown bear, specimens can only be seen very sporadically.

There are also numerous rodent species in the woods, such as the Pyrenean muskrat and the eye-catching grey dormouse and the garden dormouse, and another mammal that is perfectly adapted to the aquatic environment, the otter. Among the bird species linked closely to rivers and streams are the evasive kingfisher and the dipper.

The grass frog and the Pyrenean frog thrive in mountain lakes and cold-water streams, a space they also share with another flourishing Pyrenean species, the Pyrenean mountain newt. Of course, the common trout is present in the majority of the rivers in this area, as can the rainbow trout, which can only be found in high-mountain waters.

Among the most representative reptiles are the European asp, the most dangerous of all European vipers. The large diversity of climates and vegetation means there is an extraordinary variety of butterflies.
 

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High mountain

Mesa de los Tres Reyes 3.- High mountain: located to the far north east of the Navarran Pyrenees, with the Table of the Three Kings considered the highest mountain in the community at 2444 metres of altitude.

The High Mountain is covered with conifer forests and blanketed with mosses and lichens, with the particularly noteworthy black pine in the interior part. This area is home to species such as the Pyrenean chamois, the most characteristic Pyrenean mammal, and the Alpine marmot, the largest rodent of all the Iberian wildlife that has been introduced recently.

There are also a large number of small mammals, among which the most representative are the European snow vole, the Alpine shrew and the Eurasian pygmy shrew. To cite some of the characteristic birds: Alpine chough, the red-billed chough, the rock ptarmigan, the white-winged snowfinch, the Alpine accentor and the wallcreeper. But the most impressive is the bearded vulture, which nests on the vertical cliffs of the Pyrenees and whose silhouette looks like a giant falcon.

In terms of birds of prey, the Pyrenees have been the last refuge for some of the species.  Near the cliff faces we can spot the peregrine falcon, the majestic eagle and another scavenger bird that arrives from Africa each spring - the Egyptian vulture. Yet the largest colony is made up of griffon vultures, which can be easily spotted soaring over the Lumbier and Arbaiun gorges.

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