Saturday, 19 March 2011

Coin area, Laguna Dulce, Fuente de Piedra and Iznajar Dam, Malaga Province.

Tracking down some of the rarer Ophrys.

I meet Juan and Beatriz at the hotel near Huetor Tajar and we headed off in the direction of Malaga and onwards to the area around Coin. The first site was in open Pine woodland where we were searching for Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax subsp scolopax) amongst others. In the parking area the first orchids were seen and they were Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea) and Sawfly Orchids (Ophrys tenthredinifera). A little further up the tack we started to find plants of Woodcock Orchid but most were starting to go a little past their best so we kept searching. I found a single plant of Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) near the track and then Beatriz called us over to where she had stumbled across a really nice patch of about 20 spikes of the Butterfly Orchid. As we walked around we picked up a few Ophrys Dyris and Mirror Orchids (Ophrys speculum subsp speculum). While we were photographing the Scolopax we heard a flock of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) calling high above the pines as they moved through North. In the woodlands we also added Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus). Another Ophrys Orchid was seen at this site, at the moment we are thinking that it is possible a hybrid between Ophrys scolopax subsp scolopax and Ophrys speculum.
We then moved on to another area of Pine woodland not to far away where after some searching we located a least 6 spikes of Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica), 3 were still in bud but two had single flowers out and the best had three perfect blooms. Sawfly, Yellow Bee and Mirror Orchids were also seen. Several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) performed well low down in the pines, quite a few Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) flew up from the ground and up into the pines and over head a Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) sang beautifully.
Even less distance was covered to the next site where I was just showing Juan the site for another of the Ophrys Orchid he very much liked, Ophrys Malagatensis which is one of the many members of the fusca group. I was only showing him the site as they were in flower back in November through to late February and were well burnt off by now.
We then drove a few KM past Coin to a site for Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla), we arrived and quickly found some rather dusty Italian Man Orchids (Orchis italica) and several Gennaria. The site is under pressure from the workings of a nearby Quarry, which caused the Orchids, trees, road and anything else in the area to be covered in dust. We walked a little further along the road where we found some much cleaner Orchids and took the photos we wanted.
The mornings Orchid hunting was over and we were on our way North to Campillos and to have a look at Laguna Dulce, on the way we picked up a nice pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and once we were got into the hide we started to see good birds. First were the grebes, Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) were all present in good numbers. As were Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), along with lesser numbers of Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala). On the fields near the Laguna Juan then picked up a nice male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which quickly disappeared into the growing crops. Also seen here were Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and we also had some more European Bee-eaters fly over unseen. On some submerged Tamarisk trees in front of the hide Juan spotted a single Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) hauled out.
We then moved on to Fuente de Piedra where we saw many more Greater Flamingo’s, Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), hundreds more Northern Shoveler, our first Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) of the year hawking over the fields near the entrance, Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) and several spikes of Yellow Bee Orchid in the car park.
We then headed back towards Antequera and the North on the road towards Cordoba for a quick look at Laguna Herrera, here we picked up most of the species seen at the last two lagoons plus Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and around 10 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) following a ploughing tractor picking off the bugs and worms.
Our final stop of the day bought us back to the orchids, we stopped by the dam on Embalse de Iznajar. We had soon added 50 or more Bumble-bee Orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora) and at least the same number of Italian Man Orchid (Orchis italica) to the days list. We then spent some time wandering around searching for other species, these included Giant Orchid (Barlia robertiana), Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca subsp fusca), Ophrys subfusca, Ophrys dyris and the last species of the day Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta).

Photograps from the top: Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax subsp scolopax), Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea), Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica), Juan photgraphing the Scolopax, hybrid between Ophrys scolopax subsp scolopax and Ophrys speculum, Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla), Italian Man Orchid (Orchis italica), Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta) and Bumble-bee Orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora).























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