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Red squirrel. Sciurus vulgaris.
Squirrels became extinct in Portugal in the 16th century. Since the 80's, they returned to northern Portugal coming from Galiza. They have later expanded to Serra da Estrela region and were introduced in Lisbon parks.
You can find them at oak, beech and chestnut tree forests but it is much easier to spot this species along pinewoods. If you come across a gnawed pine cone, look up and search for this interesting mammal.
Is a plant endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. It has a simple campanulated flower that its stem, apparently, does not have enough strength to hold up towards the sky... Did it serve as a model for many of our bedside table lamps? This one in the picture was found in Zambujal Fort, at a high and windy spot. The singular variety (var.) "lusitanica" is a Portuguese endemism and for that reason can only be found over Portuguese territory. Flowering from March to July.
Southern smooth snake. Coronella girondica.
The first snake in our album (Suborder Ophidia) is a species of small dimensions (approx. 70 cm total length), more active at dusk and dawn and of general peaceful behavior (only when threatened releases a substance with an unpleasant odor). It is distributed throughout Southwestern Europe and its diet consists mainly of other small reptiles. It can remain active all year round, more evident between March and November.
The Marbled Fritillary. Brenthis daphne.
This is a beautiful species of butterfly (Order Lepidoptera) that is rare in Portugal and can only be found over the extreme Northeastern part of the country, namely in the Montesinho Natural Park and Serra da Nogueira. It flies from the end of May to the beginning of August.
Yew tree. Taxus baccata.
Our guide's first tree. This is an extraordinary and emblematic species typical of humid, mountainous and somehow wilder areas. It is quite threatened in Portugal mainly due to fire destruction by shepherds and cattle breeders because of its toxicity to livestock. Yew tree clusters, in Portuguese "Teixeiros", are very rare to find nowadays in Portugal. This is a species with a profound symbolic and cultural legacy in human communities and has been used for several purposes through History.
Hedgehog. Erinaceus europaeus.
The picturesque hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). The only mammal of the Portuguese fauna with the body covered with spines. These are no more than modified hairs. The hedgehog curls up and its spines serve as a defense against predators. It is a species with a wide distribution in Portugal that can hibernate at higher altitudes, in the coldest and mountainous areas. It feeds mainly on invertebrates. This is a species that we can find in the most varied types of habitat. Totally harmless to us.
Yellowbeard Iris. Iris boissieri.
Endemic to NW Iberian Peninsula, mainly found in Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal. Thrives only from quota 600 to 1300m . Flowering from May to June, a beautiful and rare species. A true symbol of Peneda-Gerês National Park and Nature Conservation. Enjoy your sightings!
European pond turtle. Emys orbicularis.
It inhabits all types of freshwater or low salinity habitats with still or little-moving water (eg. ponds), preferring places with abundant vegetation and little polluted. Diet includes small invertebrates, fish and amphibians. It thrives at low altitudes and its distribution its fragmented throughout the country. These animals hibernate during winter, being active mainly from March to September, when individuals are easier to spot.