Saturday, 27 April 2013

Cross

Built in 1929, there is a rather impressive monument in Santa Ponsa dedicated to the conquest of the island in 1229 by King Jaime 1st of Spain.
The King landed here with an army of some 20,000 men on 10th September 1229 and immediately went into battle with the occupying Moors.  Following the conquest of Mallorca, King Jaime went on to reclaim Menorca and Ibiza over the next six years.  The monument is decorated with carved scenes representative of the conquest around it's base.
From the vantage point of the monument, you get some fine views across the bay towards the town and down into the harbour, filled with boats belonging to the rich and famous - or at least those who would like to be rich rich and famous!  One rather good-looking yacht was moored outside the harbour and looked particularly 'artistic' and picturesque reflected in the mill-pond-like waters of the bay.
The small beach was, as usual, dotted with the usual gulls to be found in the Mediterranean.  These were mostly Yellow-legged gulls, but among them was one which looked a little different.  It turned out to be an Audouin's Gull (Larus audouinii).  In the 1960's, this was the world's rarest gull with a population of around 1000 pairs.
Still rather scarce these days, these attractive gulls are becoming more numerous as they change their eating habits.  Formerly, Audouin's Gulls fed almost exclusively by deftly snatching fish from the surface of the sea and, despite wasteful fishermen dumping large quantities of unwanted fish overboard - a habit which has benefited these gulls - their numbers fell dramatically.  Predation by foxes, dogs and cats have caused their own problems, but tourist development along the coasts has been the greatest threat.  Over recent years however, they have diversified their eating habits and special measures to protect their breeding sites from further development have allowed numbers to increase around twenty-fold.  Still on the 'Red List' of threatened species, they are thankfully in a better situation these days.  Good news for such a beautiful bird.
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