Saturday 28 March 2009

A walk along Nívar Valley to Cortijo de Cariafaqui, Sierra de Huetor, Granada Province.

SEO Sierra Nevada Visit.

Adonis vernalis.
A truly international group of birders (Spanish, French, Italian and English) lead by Jorge Garzón, set off on a 12km walk to Cortijo de Cariafaqui in the Nivar Valley in Sierra de Huetor. The weather at the start did not look promising but it brightened up nicely as the morning went on and got quite warm by mid afternoon but let us down by pouring with rain right at the end of the day.
The first sighting was of a group of three Cirl Buntings (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) feeding under Olive trees at the side of the track, seen whilst we were looking at some Grape Hyacinths (Muscari neglectum). A little further along the track several spikes of Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis collina) were found along with Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca) and Scrambling Gromwell (Lithodora diffusa). Continuing on we saw Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and a new bird for my Granada list a Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea). Many Spikes of Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca / O. forestieri) and Southern Early Purple Orchid (ChupaerosAndrorchis Olbiensis) were found along the track edges along with two much rarer plants, Adonis vernalis and Narcissus triandrus subsp pallidulus, both of which were new for me.
Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes).
Just as we arrived at the spot where we were to have lunch Andy Mountford the other English lad on the walk picked up Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) in the nearby pine trees and whilst we were having lunch a pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus fasciatus) put in an apperance, along with Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and a heard but not seen Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli). 
Narcissus triandrus subsp pallidulus.
We returned by much the same track adding Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Rock Bunting (Escribano montesino), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubicola) and we briefly heard a Scops Owl (autillo Europeo / Otus Scops). This is only a brief account of a very good day, thanks to Jorge and all the other pleasant people who took part.

Friday 27 March 2009

Birding on the local Sierras, Loja, Granada Province.

Summer Arrivals.

Giant Orchid (Himanthoglosum robertiana).
Bernard, Dave and myself spent the day birding the hills around Loja, the first stop was not for the birds but to have a look at a nice group of Giant Orchid (Himanthoglosum Robertiana) growing on the embankment at the side of the A92 motorway, whilst here we did see our first Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) of the day, several Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and a male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melancephala). Moving up higher we walked along one of the many tracks through the gorse scrub to a small disused quarry where we picked up Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata). 
Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
Again we moved further up the sierra and picked up Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and both Black-eared (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) and Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe). At a spot about 1500 meters up we searched an outcrop of rock for plant species and found a single Sierra Nevada Crocus (Crocus nevadensis) also many plants of Narcissus bugei (kindly Identified by Sue Eatock from Wildside Holidays in Grazalema). Whilst we were here a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) made a brief pass over head and Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) were all added to the days list. 
Add caption
On the way down we picked up Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus fasciatus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) and Southern Early Purple Orchid (Androrchis Olbiensis) were also seen on the way down.

Thursday 26 March 2009

A day wondering in Jaen, Jaen Province.

The Provincial Capital.

In the City.
Jayne and myself set off North to spend the day in the city of Jaen, we arrived a little earlier than we had expected as a large amount of repairs have been carried out on the motorway between Granada and Jaen. Parking was no problem and quite near the centre. We headed straight for the Cathedral, whilst I do not think it was quite as impressive as Sevilla or Granada it was well worth a visit and it took a good hour and a half to have a good look around. Several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicalo Primilla / Falco naumanni) were seen around the towers and good numbers of both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido) screamed along the streets.
One of the many great buildings.

We then walked though the narrow streets to the Palacio de Villadompardo which was built in 1592 over the top of the Arab Baths, they were rediscovered in 1913 and have now been well restored. In the part of the Palacio there is an art gallery which had a display of modern works from Spain and Portugal. From the galleries you can make your way down to the Arab baths and into a museum of agricultural equipment. The whole two and a half hours spent here was worth while, there were so many things of interest that we will be back there again.
We then made our way back though the streets calling at several more smaller Churches and monuments before finding our way back to the car.