Wednesday 16 June 2010

La Zubia, Granada Province.

What a fantastic place to find, well OK Juan told me about it.

Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri).
Armed with some good directions from Juan Perez-Contreras a friend from Granada, I made my way along the narrow roads of the village of La Zubia and eventually found my way out on to the road into the mountains. I started the drive towards an area Juan had said was great for wildflowers, I passed through Pine and Oak Woodlands on the climb after the town. Several Jays (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) flew across the road and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) were all flushed from the road side as were a couple of Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). 
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri).
Once I was in the valley butterflies were every where, the commonest were Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba), Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). The road side flowers included Phlomis crinita subsp compositae, a pale orange/yellow flower with white furry leaves and stem, Phlomis lychnitis and Phlomis purpurea, Antirrhinum hispanicum, Spanish Foxglove (Digitalis obscura) and in some of the wooded damper areas Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera arborea). 
Phlomis crinita subsp compositae.
After quite a while I reached the car park of the botanical gardens and met the warden for the site who was amazingly helpful. In the area surrounding the gardens he showed me Tragopogon cazorlanum a very rare plant that is only found here and at a couple of other sites in the Sierra Cazorla in Jean Province, here it was found about five years ago and is doing very well. The next plant was the main target species of the day, Aquilegia nevadensis which was growing in a damp area of woodland beside a small steam, exactly the sort of place Juan had said I would find it. 
A view up the Valley.
About twenty plants were found with most of them in seed, a few flowers were still left but just starting to go past there best. Also seen in this area were Salvia verbenaca, Salvia argentea, Salvia lavandulifolia, Blue Flax (Linum narbonense), Salix atrocinerea and Adonis aestivalis subsp. squarrosa. I then had a quick look around part of the Botanical Gardens where I saw the only Orchids of the day, a couple of well over with Barton's Orchids (Dactylorhiza insularis) and a single but perfect spike of Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata). Several more butterflies were seen in the gardens including Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Grayling (Hipparchia semele) and Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla). 
Tragopogon cazorlanum.
Several birds were also note near by including the unexpected Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), at least two males were heard calling and a single Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) was seen in one of the pines. Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Melodious (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) and Subalpine Warblers (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans).
Aquilegia nevadensis.
I then took a very slow drive back towards the city stopping many times on the way. One of the highlights was a new butterfly species for my Spanish list, Several Spotted Fritillary's (Melitaea didyma) were seen but did not want to let me get a decent photo. Many more Marsh Fritillary's were seen and a pupal case was found in a small bush. 
Marsh Fritillary Pupa.
New plants seen on the return included White Bugloss (Echium albicans), Putoria calabrica, Coris monspeliensis, Anthyllis tejedensis and Paeonia coriacca. At lower levels large numbers of Black-veined Whites (Aporia crataegi) were seen flying over two huge fields of thistles, Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Rock Grayling (Hipparchi alcyone) were also added to quite a butterfly list.