Saturday 17 July 2010

Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

A walk along the Rio.
Today we jumped in to the car and went down to the bar at the bottom of the road and parked there, Yogi instantly headed for the water and was up to his belly with in seconds of leaving the car. We crossed the Rio or what was left of it and started to walk down the far bank, the first birds seen were Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) a small flock flew up from the track side, along with a couple of Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops) which Yogi made a vain attempt to chase. We carried on down to the goat herders shelter where a dozen or more pairs of Tree Sparrows (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus) were breeding in the metal uprights which held up the shade matting, also in the compound there was a single Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and a couple of immature Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). 
Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla).
Several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) were feeding in fig trees on the opposite bank, whilst House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) flew low over a flock of goats in a weed field mopping up the disturbed insects. As we reached the first road bridge a small group of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) about 20 birds flew over calling loudly, other birds seen along this side of the rio included Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
We then walked along the road for a short before Yogi decided that a dip into one of the running irrigation channels would be a good idea, he dived in went fully under the water and was not to impressed, so he jumped straight back out again before changing his mind and diving back in and floating along with the flow for about 50 meters.
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
We then turned back towards the bars on a dirt track on the opposite side of the rio. The first birds added along here were a pair of Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) chasing the hordes of House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus) of their patch of field. Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) were flushed from the verge all along this track and Zitting Cisticola’s (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) zitted continuously over the maze fields. When we again came along side the river we disturbed several more Little Ringed Plovers and a single Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus). To finish off we had a quick look at the crossing point and found several male Southern Skimmers (Orthetrum brunneum) chasing each other but there was no sign of a female.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Barranco de San Juan, Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Endemic Plants and Butterflies.
Nevada Houseleek (Sempervivum vicentei).
After a last minute decision to go up the Sierra Nevada, Yogi and I set off from the car park at 2500 meters near the barrier stopping traffic proceeding towards the summit. We walked out towards the top of Barranco de San Juan, almost the first thing seen was a cracking male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) which flew passed and perched on a rocky outcrop below the track. Amongst the scree above the track there were a lot of Nevada Houseleek (Sempervivum vicentei), Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea var nevadensis), Lysimachia ephemerum and Lotus glareosus.
Spring Gentian (Gentiana verna subsp sierrae).
We walked on around several rocky bends in the track picking up Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes). Several of the endemic Apollo's (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) flew over the slopes, along with good numbers of Silver-studded Blues (Plebejus argus hypochionus), a couple of Purple-shot Coppers (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius) and several of the very rare Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania) flew by but would not allow me to get a shot.
Butterwort (Pinguicula nevadensis).
Further on we came to the main plant site and area of wet gullies with low grass and other plants, here we found good numbers of Spring Gentian (Gentiana verna subsp sierrae), a few Gentiana alpina which were note quite in flower and a couple of the pale Gentiana boryi. Also here there were hundreds of plants of the insectivorous endemic Butterwort (Pinguicula nevadensis), Plantago nivalis, Campanula herminii and Starry Saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris subsp alpigena).
Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria).
On the drier banks between the gullies I found Pale Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora), Potentilla nevadensis, Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria) and Loosewort (Pedicularis verticillata var caespitosa).
Starry Saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris subsp alpigena).
It was at this point where it all went a bit pear shaped as Yogi, me and my tripod became one for a second and I ended up full length in one of the wettest gullies, twisting my ankle, knee and taking a bit of a winding. After a few minutes I recovered and started the slow hobble back towards the car, looking rather peat coloured and wet.
Barranco de San Juan.
On the way we added several more plants to the list including the first Centranthus nevadensis I have found in a photographable position, Senecio pyrenaicus subsp granatensis, Meum athamanticum, Eryngium glaciale, Ptilotrichum spinosum, Silene rupestris, Arenaria imbricata and Arenaria pungens
A few more butterflies were also seen including Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus), Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
 I then meet up with three Spanish lads from up North in the Pico's who appeared to be catching and potting butterflies, I am pretty sure that this is an Illegal practice in any Natural Park so I informed the barrier man in my worst Spanish but he seem to understand and made a swift phone call, so hopefully the situation was sorted later. 
Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).
Just as I reached the car park another two butterflies were added, a single Cardinal Fritillary (argynnis Pandora) and a small number of the endemic Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus subsp golgus), both species were on a damp area of gravel taking on water and minerals. The bird list also grew slightly with Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), a Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) with a bill full of grubs and finally I was seen off by a pair of cronking Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax).
We both eventually made it back to the car, Yogi in better shape than me but by the look of his face we had both enjoyed it.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Near Huetor Tajar, Granada Province, Spain.

Walking Yogi the dog. 

Paul and Cherry decided to spend their summer holidays back in a wet and stormy UK and this meant that we had the great pleasure of a visit from Yogi their mad hound. He has to be one of the best behaved and mild manned dogs we have ever known and I was looking forward to taking him for some nice walks. 
Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
The first longish one was in the Olive groves and along one of the barranco's behind the house. We headed out and immediately started to pick up Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and good sized flocks of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki). 
An Immature Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) was flushed from a fig tree just as we reached the barranco along with the parents, a pair of Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica). On the dried out grassy bank on the far side of the almost dry barranco there were several species of butterfly including Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines). Also seen here was a single adult male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) which perched on the dead tips of some Fennel plants. 
European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
Amongst the olives we also flushed good numbers of Rabbits (Orycolagus cuniculus) and Iberian Brown Hare (Liebre ibérica / Lepus granatensis) which all bolted for cover quickly. As we continued up the barranco we passed some Oak woodland and a few Poplars, along here we added Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) x4, Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), a silent Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), a pale morph Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and just as we reach the top of the barranco we found a small breeding colony of European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) with about 8 nest holes. 
Bath White (Pontia daplidice).
On the way back we flushed more Hares and a family party of about 20 Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and down near the back of the house we added Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), not bad for a walk with the dog.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Huetor Tajar, Granada Province.

The best team wins the cup.

Dancing on the tables.
Well what a night, Jayne and I spent several more than just pleasant hours sat at one of our local bars in Huetor Tajar watching Spain win the world cup. I am not a fan of football normally but when you live in a place where the team are actually proud to play for their country (not just happy to take the money) and put every thing into each game it would be rude not to support them. The locals in the town certainly enjoyed a game marred just slightly by the opposition’s tactics but the end result was what counted.
and Dancing in the streets of Huétor.
As soon as the match was over there were some incredibly noisy celebrations, both in the bar and on the streets. Masses of cars started to pass up the high street, horns blasting, occupants cheering and waving flags. Fire works could also be seen and heard, sometimes a little too close to the crowds for comfort, so we decided to make our way back home and call it a night, a very good night.