Thursday 3 June 2010

Alhama de Granada and Zafarraya areas, Granada Province.

A days Guiding a bit to the south.

Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines).
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 Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) 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 Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), 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.
Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
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). 
Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula).
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).  
Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) 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). 
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus).
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). 
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).

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Refugio de Juanar, Malaga Province.

Another new Orchids species.

Red Helleborines (Cephalanthera rubra).
I parked in the usual spot near the hotel and started the hunt for Orchids, not very hard as I was again lucky enough to have some spot on directions from friend Ian Phillips. Within minutes I had found at least six stunning Red Helleborines (Cephalanthera rubra) in full flower, other plants were still in bud. 
Red Helleborines (Cephalanthera rubra).
After taking several photographs I had a good wander around the rest of the site picking up several other orchid species but most were well over with, they included Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia), Barton's Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis), Lange's Orchid (Orchis langei) and Dense-flowered Orchid (Neotinea maculata). 
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A couple of other species were found that were still in good condition, at least 3 spikes of Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) and a few of the many Epipactis tremolsii were just out. There were many butterflies at the site, Marsh Fritillary's (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri) were on the wing in large numbers, a few Wood (Leptidea sinapis) and Spanish Marbled Whites (Melanargia ines) and a single Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) were also seen. 
Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) were also seen.
Birds included Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), most seen coming to drink at a trough.
Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius).
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri).
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Monday 31 May 2010

Loja, Granada Province.

Fish farm and industrial estates.

Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis).
Well not one of the usual places I would choose to visit but with the car needing some new brake disks rather urgently I was left with no option. I dropped the car of to our reliable and cheap Spanish mechanic and passed a couple of hours wondering the local industrial estate and fish farm. As soon as I reached the stream that feeds the trout pools I picked up a displaying Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) only the one bird could be seen but as he was showing off so much I can assume that there must have been a female close by. 
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).
On the same pool several Copper Demoiselles (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) and a male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) were seen. Further up the stream a Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) was seen to slip from a very exposed nest with four eggs, shoals of Iberian Barbel swam in the crystal clear water (shame about all the crap that had been dropped and dumped in the area). Butterflies were every where including Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).  
Nest of Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus).
Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) were all in good numbers feeding on the thistle plants on the waste ground, along with Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and several Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). 
Small White (Artogeia rapae).
I then had a walk around the small pond only adding Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and the resident domestic ducks. I then retraced my steps back along the stream picking up Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). 
Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus).
Back at the fish farm I flushed the biggest Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) from the stream bank and this thing did not scuttle away as they usually do, it galloped. Also seen were a single male Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum), several Iberian Bluetails (Ischnura graellsii) and a nice newly emerged Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope). Not a bad morning after all !