Tuesday 14 July 2009

Wildlife walk with the Aldeas Infantiles SOS group, Granada Province.

Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada.

The Ski Resort.
On my way up to the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort to Meet Jorge Garzón I had a quick look on the fields to the North of Huetor Tajar and was surprised to see a flock of 37 Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) feeding on a flooded Lucerne (Medicago sativa) field along with several hundred Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). Before Meeting Jorge Garzón at the Ski resort I spent some time in the Genil Valley checking out an orchid site for a potential visit by an Orchid enthusiast from Malaga but the Epipactis fageticola and Small-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis microphylla) were well over with as were all the species except for a few Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata). 

Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
Later I went part of the way along the trail to the Barranco de San Juan again hoping to get some repeat views of the Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) males we had seen the previous weekend. Some brief views were had but the photos were not great. Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
I then made my way to the Ski resort to Meet Jorge and the 60 strong group going on this walk. 

Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata).
We made our way to the edge of the built up area seeing Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Black Redstart. On the banks of a small ornamental pool in the gardens a couple of spikes of Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata) were shown to the group and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Motacill alba) were also seen. At least three different male Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyrenaica) were on the slopes feeding in amongst the low vegetation. 

Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis).
An imm Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator glandarrius) flew up the slope in front of us and a couple of Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) butterflies passed by. The endemic variety of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea var nevadensis) was growing quite commonly on the slopes along with Verbascum Nevadense, Ptilotrichum spinosum and Eryngium glaciale

Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyrenaica).
We made our way out to a view point down the valley and then returned to the resort and to the hotel for something to eat. Later the group went up to the top car parks where a couple of local astrologists had a telescope set up and we spent some time looking at the night sky.

Monday 13 July 2009

Sierra de Libar, Malaga / Cadiz Provinces.

The Butterflies.

Spanish Chalk-hill (Lysandra albicans).
Peter and Brenda Jones, Jayne and I all headed up Sierra de Libar near the village of Montejaque. We passed through most of the valley with out a stop and made our way to the Oak woodlands towards the far end of Libar. The first stop was to inspect some roadside thistles for butterflies. 

Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
We found Small (Blanquita de la Col / Artogeia rapae), Iberian Marbled (Melanargia lachesis) and Bath Whites (Blanquiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Spanish Chalk-hill (Lysandra albicans) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) all very quick and difficult to photograph. 

HollyBlue (Celastrina argiolus).
As we moved out passed the refuge into the grassland area at the furthest point of Libar we saw the first of a few Rock Grayling (Hipparchi alcyone) and amongst the thistles and Field Eryngium we found more Iberian Marbled Whites, Clouded Yellow, Spanish Chalk-hill Blue and added Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus).

Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis).
We then turned around and headed back to the woodlands where we stopped and had our picnic lunch by some old baths being used as watering troughs for the livestock. Some of the water was leaking out and mixing with the soil, many butterflies were coming to settle and take on water and minerals these included Holly (Celastrina argiolus), Long-tailed and Spanish Chalk-hill Blues, Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Small Heath (Ninfa de Linneo / Coenonympha pamphilus f Iyllus), Cardinal Fritillary (Argynnis pandora), Scarce (Chupaleches / Iphichides podalirius feistameli) and Common Swallowtails (Papilio machaon), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx rhamni) and False Ilex Hairstreak (Querquera / Satyrium esculi). 

Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).

The Birds.

The birds were typical of the mountains of the area and included Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Rock (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae). In amongst the Oak woodland we saw Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and a Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) a bird I don’t see very often over in Granada Province. 

Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
In the air above the site Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) all hawked insects. Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falcotinnunculus), Turtle (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and House Sparrows (Gorrión Común) were all seen on our way back to Peter and Brenda’s home at Ronda.