Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Zafarraya area, Granada Province.

A morning amongst the Orchids.

Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).
11 of us (most from the Loja informal English group) set out from Venta San Rafiel in Venta del Raya to spend the morning the area around Zafarraya looking for Orchids, Wildflowers and Birds. The first spot was just to the south of the village where we were hoping to see some of the Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) that had been seen in previous years but as usual the birds behaved impeccably and disappeared for the whole time we were there. We move on to the first of the areas for the Orchids, Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea) and Conical Orchids (Orchis conicia) were the first two species seen. A male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) was then seen well singing from a tree top and 9 Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) passed east at some distance. 
Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes).
Also along the road side we found Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi) near flowering, Silvery Paronychia (Paronychia argentea), Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata) and Southern Butchers Broom (Ruscus hypophyllum). 
We then found a couple more Orchids, Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) and a single Italian Man Orchid (Orchis italica) were soon followed by Mirror (Ophrys speculum) and Giant Orchids (Barlia robertiana), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia) and several Lizard Orchids (Himantoglossum hircinum) which need a week or two before they would be in flower. 
Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).
The scope again came in for some use as Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) were seen and Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) were heard.
We then moved out on to the road and walked along to a second area of Oak woodland where we found many more Sword-leaved Helleborines, Conical Orchids and a few Lange's Orchids (Orchis langei) along with Small Early Purple (Orchis olbiensis).
Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata.
In the same area we had Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) butterflies on the wing.
We then made our way to Zafarraya for a Coffee and Loo break before having a short walk along the disused railway line, here we saw several Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) doing aerobatics along the cliffs, both Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) perched up on rocks. Other birds seen included Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
Pink-butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
Our last stop was on the way back just out side Zafarraya, here we first of all picked up a couple of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) hawking over the fields and a nice male Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) sat on a pole. In the woods both Orphean (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) and Bonelli’s Warblers (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) were picked up and a singing male Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) was heard and seen by a few of the group.
The Group.
Then we came across the star plant of the day, a nice patch of Pink-butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) made just about all the group reach for their cameras. Out in the more open grassland we then added Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta), Small-flowered Tongue (serapias parviflora) and Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis), the later was not quite in flower. We then headed back to the cars adding Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and Ronda Cranesbill (Geranium malviflorum). 

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