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Bird-watching in Navarre


Kermes-oak and Holm-oak woods

In general

These are woods in which the dominant tree species is the Holm oak or Kermes oak (Quercus ilex).

Kermes-oak woods (Quercus ilex subsp. rotundifolia) are distributed in the southern half of Navarre, while there are two small nuclei of Holm oak (Quercus ilex subsp. ilex) in the north-east. These typically Mediterranean woods take hold in continental climates with little rainfall.

They originally covered large areas of the centre-south of Navarre, but have waned notably over the years. The most extensive masses are now in Navarre?s Central Zone, central basins and in the south of some of the community's Pre-Pyrenean valleys.

Holm oaks and Kermes oaks form woods with trees which are not too high and not very dense, accompanied by a wealth of underwood consisting of trees and bushes such as the maple, tree strawberry, service tree, juniper, savin, rosemary, thyme, etc.


The wealth of these woods in terms of vegetation favours a wide variety of bird species. Densities, nevertheless, do not tend to be too high and normally border on 50-60 birds/10Ha. during the breeding season. During the winter, however, Kermes-oak and Holm-oak woods receive a good number of wintering passerines which take advantage of the refuge that these evergreen trees provide and the food, in the form of fruit and berries, that they have to offer.

Among the species characteristically found in these woods are the Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Western Orphean Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subapline Warbler, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. The Dartford Warbler, Ortolan Bunting and, to a lesser extent, the Spectacled Warbler appear in cleared Kermes-oak woods.

Rather more scarce are the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Blue Tit and, even rarer, the European Roller.

Among the birds of prey, you can find the Red Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Hobby. Scops Owl, the Little Owl and the Long-eared Owl are the nocturnal species.

Winter normally sees large flocks of birds arrive from the north comprising the Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Common Chaffinch and Brambling.