Saturday 12 June 2010

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Birds and Orchids.

Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
Today was a botanising day with Juan Perez-Contreras and his wife Beatriz in Sierra Nevada. On the way up I called at a site where I had in the past seen a Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) and was very surprised to find two birds there. 
I watched these birds for a while, which were quite a long way off, I rang Juan to tell him of my find and to try and arrange to meet him a bit earlier. Just as we finished the call a third bird flew in and the other two came much closer, from this range it was quite obvious that two of the birds were immature. 
Spanish Foxglove (Digitalis obscura).
After a few minutes watching them my attention was drawn away north to what was a fourth bird, the second adult of the family. Just then Juan rang me back to change meeting point and I gave him the info that there were two immature birds and two adults at the site. I am not sure of the breeding status of this species in the Province of Granada; I know that it has been seen in the summer in the past and that it is a fairly regular wintering bird. On the 13th Juan confirmed my sighting and found that there were in fact at least three immature birds.
Prunella laciniata.
I meet up with Juan and Beatriz and we started the drive up the mountain via the old northern road. On the way we viewed a nest site for Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos); a huge nest of branches rather than twigs could be seen in a hollow on a steep cliff face.
Once we were in the woods we stopped at a site for the rare Epipactis fageticola, the plants were still some way off flowering and also down in number.
Bug / Fragrant Bug Orchid (Orchis coriophora).
Last year I found 18 spikes of this rare but uninspiring plant, this time we only managed 10. Further on the dead spikes of both Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia) and Barton’s Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis) under the Sweet Chestnuts, along with 20+ spikes of the uncommon Epipactis microphylla in varying stages of flower. Most were still in bud but some of the less shaded plants on the road side had lower blooms open. Spanish Foxglove (Digitalis obscura), Onosma tricerosperma subsp. granatensis, Putoria calabrica, Daphne gnidium and Prunella laciniata were all seen in the area.
Bug / Fragrant Bug Orchid (Orchis coriophora).
Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) were all heard or seen.
Grayling (Hipparchia semele).
We then moved over to El Purche a site just off the main road up the mountain where I showed Juan the site I had found a couple of years ago for Orchis cazorlensis, the plants would have been over with but what was sad is that they had been chewed off by animals preventing any seed being set.
The next site was a spot that Juan and Beatriz had found, some great looking sloping grassy meadows; we soon started to find many plants of Bug / Fragrant Bug Orchid (Orchis coriophora).
The plants were highly variable in colour, ranging from quite deep Red / Purple to White and Green. Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) were the only new birds seen. Several butterflies were also flying in the meadows including Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
El Purche, Sierra Nevada.
The next stop was lunch at the near by restaurant and then back to the site for the Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) but on this visit there were no Kites at all. We did see several Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).

Friday 11 June 2010

Huetor and Sierra Loja, Granada Province.

A days guiding in the mountains.

Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
On my way to the meeting point for today’s trip I had a look in at the fields near Huetor Tajar where I picked up several Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos). Out on the Lucerne fields I picked a small group of birds which re minded me of the wintering Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which spend a lot of time in this area but they do not return until September. I had to check so I dug the scope out and scanned in from the left and the first bird I came to was a male Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) which made more sense, but then I went further right and the remaining ten birds were indeed Little Bustards. There were three males and seven females / immatures, another nice but unexpected sighting.

Thread Lacewing (Nemoptera bipennis).
Today’s birders were Jan and Linda, two ladies staying in the nearby La Paz holiday home, we made our way up to Sierra de Loja via a rather wayward route through Loja due to roadwork’s. Once we were on the track and in the pine woods we started picking up birds including Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). Once we were out on the crags the weather turned nasty so were decided to drive straight out to Charca del Negro and give the cloud time to blow over.
Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
On the way up we managed to see several Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). On the open flat area near the Charca we saw the first of two male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) but this one was rather distant but still we all managed to pick it up before it dropped behind some rocks. Also seen here were Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua). Up around Charca several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) called and several more Black-eared Wheatears were singing. Rock Sparrows were everywhere, dozens called from the crags around the pools, a couple of Sharp-ribbed Salamanders were seen in the water and plenty of Thread Lacewings (Nemoptera bipennis) over the herbs,
Male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis).
It was surprisingly cold in the wind so we decided to take a steady drive back down the hill, on the way we picked up a second male Rufous-Tailed Rock Thrush, this time much better views were gained and I managed to take a few shots. On the rocks several plant species were seen including Viola dementria, Large-Venus’s Looking Glass (Legousia speculum-veneris), Pink Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea), Linaria anticaria, Dianthus Pungens and Carduus granatensis.
Jan and Linda looking at the rocks
On the way down we bumped into John and Jenny Wainwright and we had a quick chat and swapped sightings and then moved on, a few minutes later the mobile rang and it was John to say that they were watching a Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and it was heading our way. We stopped and got out of the car just as the bird came over the ridge, quickly followed by at least another six birds, they circled before splitting up and going in several directions. A pair of Spectacled Warblers (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) were seen and heard, the male had some nesting material in its mouth and flew to a small bush barely a foot high and added it to the construction. As we dropped down through the pines a dark phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) was hanging in the strong wind and a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) was hovering along the crags.
Flow Stone.
More plant species were added to the list whilst Jan went into a small cave to have a look what was inside (Geologist’s) after a short while Linda and I thought we had better go back up the hill and check that Jan had not wandered off into the tunnel too far, just as we got back she emerged safely. At this site and on the way down to the lower quarry we added a nice Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). In the quarry we looked at some nice bending in the layered Limestone rocks and also checked out some flow stone on the face of the quarry wall. We then made our way back to their accommodation.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Rio Velez, Malaga Province and Zafarraya, Granada Province.

A couple of hours with the camera.

Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
I had a couple of hour down on the river so I started by walking down the east bank from the bridge. I saw several Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), three Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and a single Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) feeding on the margins. Good numbers of Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) were out on the muddy areas feeding youngsters and a couple of pairs of Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra) were on the larger pool above the beach. 
Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii).
In the vegetation Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) were all seen skulking around low down, while Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) called from the reed tops.
On the beach a large digger and several trucks were working to move sand around, noisy but did not bother the birds too much and also made sure the beach was fairly empty. There were several, 13+ Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) of all ages roosting along with several Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), two immature Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and an unexpected adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) which I thought might be injured in some way but it was away as fast as any of the other birds when one of the truck drivers got too close.
Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur).
Out on the sea a dozen or so Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) were fishing, as were a few immature Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus). Several of the small local fishing boats were returning to Torre-del-Mar and were followed by good numbers of Gulls and Northern Gannets but they were joined by about 30 Balearic (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and 10+ Cory's Shearwater (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea), some approaching to within 20 meters of the beach. While I was watching this a couple of late passage Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) flew in and joined a small group of Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus).
Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus).
On the way back up the river to the car I added three Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) which perched on one of the electricity pylons calling loudly, Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).
On the way home we went via the vega de Zafarraya and added Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).