A days Guiding a bit to the south.
I made my way down to the small picturesque town of Alhama de Granada where I picked Mary Rose and Hugo from their hotel. We first headed north and out on to the fields towards Zafarraya. Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) seemed to be every where, some times in small groups of six or more. Both Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) perched on rocks close to the road and several Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) scurried around on the tarmac. A single Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), several Yellow Wagtails (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) were seen at this first stop. Butterflies were also seen including Large (Pieris brassicae), Bath (Pontia daplidice), Small (Artogeia rapae) and Spanish Marbled Whites (Melanargia ines), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and female Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra). We moved on just a few hundred meters and had some cracking views of a pair of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) perched out in the bright sun on road side rocks, Hoopoes were heard and seen. Along with a distant call from a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) were all seen well.
Again more butterflies showed up including a single fly-by Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius), Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
On the way to Zafarraya we stopped and had a brief listen in the much grazed Oak woodlands, here we added (Heard only) Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus).
At the cliffs we soon started to find new day species including the breeding Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) nosily chasing around the cliffs and cave entrance, followed by Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba). Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) were seen and heard all along the railway walk but it took us a while to track down a singing male Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). Further along the track towards the tunnel a cracking pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) showed well on the rocks and bushes on the slope, while a couple of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) flew close enough for us all to pick out the tail spots easily. On the walk back a pair of Peregrine Falcons (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) chased around the top of the main crag, upsetting the many Choughs and a male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) and Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) were also added to a growing butterfly list.
We moved on to a larger area of oak woodland back towards Alhama, on the way we picked up Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and what I think will probably be Mary Rose's bird of the day European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). In the woodlands we got views of Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). A stream which was flowing through the area gave us views of a fine male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) and more butterflies also appeared including Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae) and Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe).Wild flowers were also seen on the roadside verges, these included Wild Leek (Allium ampeloprasum), Rabbits bread (Andryala integrifolia), Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Narrow-leaved Cistis (Cistis monspliensis), Thapsia (Thapsia villosa) and Scabiosa stellata.
We then made our way to the Pantaneta de Alhama, on the lake we managed to find Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). We then went to one of the bars opposite and had a bit of lunch before setting off on a walk through the gorge below Alhama. Along the river we soon picked up a Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus) singing from some pines and in the river side growth Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti)were all eventually picked out. Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), more Choughs, Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows patrolled the skies and brief views were had of both Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) in the poplar tree plantation. Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) was the last of the butterflies for the day but we also added a nice Common Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii). Other birds seen included Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
Photographs from the top: Spanish Marbled Whites (Melanargia ines), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) and Common Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii).