Saturday, April 9, 2011

They were born free

On the north coast of the island of Mallorca is preserved a small haven of unspoiled nature surrounded by destruction: the Albufera de Mallorca and adjacent dunes and pine forests. Spring walk in these pines is an orgy of light and color. It breathes life into the aroma of good soil, in the birdsong, in the frantic fluttering of bees and bumble bees going from flower to flower in search of the precious nectar.

Orchis italica

Ornithogalum divergens

Serapias lingua

The plants in full bloom resemble a huge Persian carpet: orchids, thickets, reed, buttercups, daisies, mallow, Plantago, rosemary, Globularia, euphorbias, thyme, Asphodelus, bindweed, reeds, pine, olive, tamarisk, mastic, juniper, etc ... and some tiny ferns almost invisible: Ophioglossum lusitanicum and Selaginella denticulata and in the canals of the lagoon a small population of the scarce Phyllitis sagittata. 

 Ophrys lutea

 Orchis coriophora

Ophrys sphegodes

One can imagine how it would be Mallorca a thousand years ago and the sadness by so much loss hurts in the soul. Terranal Paradise is lost forever and never return. The hen that lays golden eggs was exploited to exhaustion and stopped to lay eggs, is very sick, but human greed is blind and can not see the sorry state of hen and they are squeezing it to put more eggs even if it is golf balls.

This little haven of hope, miraculously saved from the greed, is the home to two tiny Mediterranean turtles of the species Testudo hermanni. They have 10 months and born last year in late spring. Before starting his morning walks in search of tender shoots and flowers which are their breakfast, they lie on a squishy soft bed of moss in the sun that warms their reptilian blood and fills of energy their small body. A male blackbird inflamed by spring hormones sings a beautiful lullaby to sleep peacefully while they were charging the batteries. They were born free under the white sand of a dune in the shadow of a Cistus but their parents were imprisoned without having committed any crime. Someone with a clean soul released them and this small turtles are the first fruit of their liberty.

Their camouflage is perfect. When the sensory nerve endings in the bottom of his shell detect vibration of my footsteps hide his head and his legs and remain completely immobile. Like two stones on the moss.

The two small turtles are females, their little tail used to know their sex. Males have much longer tail and thick. To get an idea of ​​just small compared with the nail of my thumb. Her belly is bulging, which means they are well hydrated and that store a lot of fat reserves, thanks to the lush vegetation that is your pantry. The striations seen in its shell are two new plates that are growing between the third and fourth pair of plates.

The other turtle is also female with her small tail and the two new plates in growth in its shell. This is much more plump than the other. Its "belly" bulges much more, a sign of the large reserves of fat that accumulates. Not suffer you, I have put back exactly in the same bed of moss where they were. Hopefully they arrive to adult and they fill with small sons this little paradise.

Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. macrocarpa

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