Photo 1. A rocky pasture on Tramutana on Cres Island is shrouded by low-lying clouds (Photo by M. Randić)
Specific features of the Kvarner islands – the Mediterranean-montane belt
The cliffs and rocky escarpments of ornithological reserves located on the islands of Kvarner Bay rise up directly from the waves. Their picturesqueness, texture, indentedness, rock creeps, torrential gorges, and sparse but fragrant vegetation make them both appealing and impressive. Griffon vultures alight on these cliffs; this is where they build their nests and where they come to rest. They soar over the cliffs, bringing them to life and luring growing numbers of nature lovers. They provide tourists and visitors with an exceptional and unusual experience that will be long remembered.
There are, however, many other interesting facts about the typical plant and animal life of these cliffs that is probably not so well known as the griffon vulture. Other rare and intriguing birds also build their nests here or stay for a while, such as the peregrine falcon, common kestrel, common buzzard, European honey buzzard, Eurasian eagle-owl, blue rock-thrush and Mediterranean shag. The plant communities growing in crevices and on rock creeps are endemic and unique to the Kvarner region.
The northern part of Cres Island, Osorščica on Lošinj Island, the rocky plateau of the southern part of Krk Island and, to some extent, Kamenjak on Rab Island are also characterised by the factor of altitude in the distribution of ecological conditions, flora and fauna. This is evident in the specific “highland” climate of these areas. Namely, high ground on the islands of Cres, Krk and Lošinj rises up to more than 500 metres above sea level. Gorice, the highest hill on Cres Island (also the second highest of hills on all the Kvarner islands) is 648 metres high. Practically every year the peaks of the Kvarner islands turn white with snow and, often, the summit ridges of the highest island “mountains” are shrouded by clouds or fog. This has a special importance for plant and animal life. In terms of vegetation, this altitude belt is called a Mediterranean-montane belt.