With almost 2000m above sea level, Estrela Mountain is the highest mountain of continental Portugal. Imposing and spectacular rocky landscape, it is deeply marked with the scars left by the glaciers of erstwhile. Furthermore, it features mountain-specific habitats and numerous endemic species of plants and animals, some of which do not exist anywhere else in the world.
Estrela Mountain’s wildlife
This Mountain has important natural values. Because of its altitude, the geographic isolation allowed certain species of animals and plants to find refuge or to evolved here separately from other populations, thus creating distinct and specific species for this territory.
In the higher altitudes, you can find and watch with ease, the ex-libris of the Estrela reptiles, the Iberian Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta monticola), an endemism of this Mountain.
It is also possible to see some insects that are exclusive from here. The Monotropus lusitanica, the Iberodorcadion brannani the Zabrus estrellanus and the Ctenodecticus lusitanicus are the main ones. Other species found in Estrela Mountain its exclusive distribution area in Portugal. Such is the case of the dragonflies Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) and Yellow-winged Darter (Sympetrum flaveolum) and the Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea) butterfly.
From the group of existing birds and that we can observe at Estrela Mountain Natural Park, some of them find in this mountain its preferred habitat at national level. From a list of about 100 species of residents birds, we can highlight the following:
Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana), Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia), Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), Short-Toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Booted Eagle (Hieraeetus pennatus), Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Dipper (Cinclus cinclus), Common Redstart (Phoenicuros phoenicuros), Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
There is a wide variety of plants and flowers that lend their color to the paths and slopes of the mountain. Like the animals, some elements of the botany only survive in this mountainous territory. The highest ground of Estrela presents pseudo-alpine features and therefore the vegetation is mostly formed by small-sized plants, shrubs and creeping plants like the Juniper (Juniperus alpina) and grasses such as Festuca henriquesii and Nardus stricta, plants adapted to the adverse weather of winter with a regular coverage of snow. The Campanulla herminii, a beautiful blue flower that is associated with altitude pastures and the Silene foetida subsp. foetida, bloom during the summer months. But since the middle of winter and early spring we can see several species of daffodils (some are Iberian endemisms) and the Fritillary (Fritilaria nervosa). In wetter areas, we can still find the tiny Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) a carnivorous plant.