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From the Mediterranean sea to the Pyrenees: a new guide, new drawings!

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized

From the bottom of the sea to the highest peaks! In light of the favourable reviews of the guide to the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean written with Kike Ballesteros a couple of years ago, at Brau Edicions we have now decided to publish a guide to the Pyrenees — in six languages!!

This new guide describes over 800 species of plant and animal – as well as fungi, lichens and mosses – found throughout the Pyrenees, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, from the humid north face to the scarp slopes of the southern-most pre-Pyrenean cliffs. David Guixé, multifaceted biologist and naturalist from the Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia in Solsona has written the texts, chosen the species and acted as the coordinator of all the contributors that have provided expert advice for each group of flora and fauna, both from the Spanish and the French side, where the guide will be published by Biotope Éditions.


The time spent on my part of the work, as – alas! – so often happens, was spent more in front of a computer screen than in the field, and I only left my study to go up to the Pyrenees to photograph landscapes for the habitat panoramas. However, I have had to illustrate 225 new species, often varieties and subspecies found only in the Pyrenees, which has involved far more hours of meticulous work than I had planned for — as always, my enthusiasm for a new exciting project got the better of me!


Woodlarks that flew to Sweden: a work paying homage to the great ornithologist Lars Svensson

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized


This summer I received one of those challenging commissions that you just cannot turn down. To express myself in a rather lofty – but totally sincere – fashion, it was a true honour that the Catalan Ornithological Institute (ICO) should ask me to produce a work as a homage to Lars Svensson. This Swede, perhaps the most eminent of all European ornithologists, is the author of a number of exceptional field guides used by both ringers and general birdwatchers. The ICO had decided to name Svensson an honorary member during this year’s Delta Birding Festival and wanted to mark the official presentation with an appropriate gift for the occasion: hence the commission, which you can see here:


The ICO had told me that one of Svensson’s favourite birds is the Woodlark and suggested that this species be the object of my work. This small lark that frequents fields and stubble is not particularly spectacular. Its habitat is somewhat run-of-the-mill, it breeds on the ground in the grass, it behaves fairly discreetly — a challenge indeed to produce a work fit for the occasion.

But, I was in luck. In recent years I have spent a lot of time with the local Woodlarks. In the field where we keep our donkeys, full of stones and bang slap in the middle of the village, there are Woodlarks all year around. In winter groups of a half a dozen birds feed, while in spring, if the tall lush grass has not yet been chewed away by the donkeys, there is always a breeding pair (whose nest, by the way, is always very hard to locate). To avoid detection by predators, the adults always land a few metres away from their nests and then casually walk there almost invisibly through the grass. After a few preliminary sessions spying on the Woodlarks as they try to conceal the site of their nest, every breeding season I manage to locate the nest and enclose it with an electric fence to keep it and its young safe from the hoofs of our donkeys. A small but welcome satisfaction. One year I even managed to hide a camera inside a paper-maché stone: every day I moved it a little nearer the nest and was able in the end to film these images when the chicks were already quite well grown.:

All these hours of fieldwork represent many hours of observing Woodlarks, which I depict here as part of an image of our donkeys grazing, with the first rays of a June sun just touching the old bales of straw, the skyline of our village in the background and the larks on the ground in the foreground — all this as a synthesis of my personal links to these larks. My aim was that, despite the detail, the larks – one with a spider in its bill waiting to enter the nest and the other actually feeding its chicks – would not play too great a role in the final composition. I felt that this particular piece of Catalan landscape, with the rounded bales, the church bell tower and the even the donkeys, should play a very important and, in some way, predominant part of the work, as if the contemplation of my work and the finding of the birds was in fact a kind of birdwatching ‘test’.

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My work was presented to the great Lars Svensson during a simple but emotive-for-many ceremony held in the main tent of the Delta Birding Festival, packed to the proverbial rafters with an enthusiastic audience drawn by the presence of the great man himself (rather than my work!). The act, attended by important ornithologists of Catalan and international repute, including José Luis Copete, a personal friend of Lars Svensson, Gabriel Gargallo the ICO coordinator, and Jordi Baucells its president (and not forgetting Svensson, of course), was for me a humbling experience and a very special moment.

I’ve been told that my work depicting a corner of our ornithological landscape has already found a home on the walls of Svensson’s study in Sweden. These little details are still very important for me. I must thus give thanks to all those who made it possible: the members of the ICO and, once again and above all, to the organizers of the Delta Birding Festival –Ricard Losarcos, Miquel Rafa, Abel Julien and Francesc Kirchner – who dreamed up this marvellous annual event for bird lovers from Catalonia. And, naturally, an even bigger ‘thank-you’ to Lars Svensson, from whom so many European ornithologists who use and trust his identification guides above all others have learnt so much.


2,500 signatures, 2,500 ‘thank-yous’

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized

There are 2,500 species of rodent in the world.

And, unwittingly, they are the reason why I had to sign 2,500 of my plates.

At 10 seconds a plate – pick up the plate, sign it, put it in the correct pile – works out at 25,000 seconds. That’s just over seven hours signing, a whole day’s work. Wow! The solution? Take advantage of any free five minutes to sign a couple of hundred — in the patio as the kids play, in a hide waiting for birds, a few minutes peace and quiet outside after dinner …

But why?

When Lynx Edicions found itself faced with the tricky – and unviable – task of including the over 2,500 species of rodent in single volume of the Handbook of the Mammals of the World, it had in the end no alternative but to devote two volumes of this opus magnum to this large group of mammals. These two volumes include far more than just mice and rats, for they also take in animals as attractive as porcupines, capybaras, squirrels, marmots, dormice, hamsters, shrews and, naturally, rats and mice.

However, before beginning, the ‘mainstays’ of the purchasers of the HMW, i.e. the subscribers, were consulted. By means of an questionnaire, they were asked if they agreed with the idea and whether they would buy both volumes. To encourage people to participate, we decided, rather frivolously, that we would give away a signed plate from the HMW with my drawings of all the world’s lynxes — a logical choice given the publisher’s name. The response was overwhelming and the over 2,500 subscribers who answered the questionnaire gave a clear majority of 93% in favour of two volumes of rodents.

And so, to finish off the sixth volume of the Handbook, the first devoted to rodents, I had to sign the appropriate number of plates. I finished the signing, here and there, but with the satisfaction – if you will permit me this pleasure – of knowing that each signed plate would go to an unknown person in an unknown corner of the world, and to each and every one of the keenest subscribers to the Handbook of the Mammals of the World. I offer my thanks to all these animal lovers who support this project, which, on a more personal note, has represented the main body of my work for almost a decade, and will continue to do so for a few more years to come.

Safari into the heart of the somewhat less-than-wild Europe to prepare the guides of the flora and fauna of the Benelux.

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized

At the beginning of June I had the pleasure of undertaking a wonderful wildlife ‘safari’ through some of the natural areas of two of the least ‘wild’ countries in Europe, Belgium and the Netherlands. My guides on this new project were Bart Muys, Professor of Ecology at the University of Lueven, and the botanist Hans Baeté, two unstinting and priceless companions in the field.

I’m currently working with Bart Muys on a new series of guides to the flora and fauna of the natural areas of the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg). They will be published by the Dutch publishers KNNV, specialists in natural history publications, and will benefit greatly from the expertise of Hans Baeté, the author of the guides’ texts. The original proposal came from Bart, who suggested a couple of years ago that we ‘export’ the style of compact guides to biodiversity at local level that I have been working on with Brau for Catalonia since 2008.

Part of the work involved in preparing the content of the guide is the fieldwork, which consists of photographing the most representative habitats and the way in which people use these spaces, and then visiting and viewing these areas through the eyes of a humble ‘visitor’ to select the species that have to be highlighted in the final guide. And so these last few days were spent in Belgium and the Netherlands visiting sites such as the limestone hills of the Viroin valley in Wallonia, full of orchids and open-space birds, the polder of Oostvaardersplassen, grazed by herds of red deer and semi-wild horses, the spectacular beech- and oakwoods of Zonien south of Brussels, the coastal marshes of Zwin, and, finally, the dunes, meadows and pinewoods of Veluwe.

Now it’s time to get down to working on the drawings. First of all, I highly recommend a quick tour of a small selection of the photos I took during my five Benelux days, as a means of discovering the beauty and diversity of a part of Europe which is decidedly not just fields of cabbages and tulips! Enjoy!

A pocket foldout guide – the fauna of Els Ports Natural Park

Per Toni Llobet el . Categoria: Uncategorized


I was commissioned by Els Ports Natural Park to produce a small field guide to the fauna of this wonderful protected area in an original format: a pocket-sized, reinforced plasticized leaflet that is ideal for taking out into the field. The texts were written by the Park itself, and the design was the work of good friend Abdón Jordà. I produced the drawings and took the photograph of a fantastic spring sunrise from the top of Barranc de la Vall, with my friend Marta Gibert as an ‘extra’.


This guide has enabled me to enlarge my portfolio of drawings and deepen my knowledge of a number of animals, above all of various age classes and behavioural aspects of the best-known mammal of the area, the Spanish Ibex. I was also able to study the tracks and signs – dens and excrements – left by other mammals in the area.

The guide will be published in two bilingual editions (Catalan and English, Spanish and French) and the hope is that it will help visitors appreciate and discover one of the most important –and, paradoxically, often one of the least well provided for – reasons for visiting our protected natural areas: the ‘large’ wild animals such as the ibex that populate our mountainsides.