Royal British Legion walking group.
Jayne, Alan (our Son), Sophie (Alan’s girl friend) and I joined the Royal British Legion walking group for a stroll down the Alhama gorge following the Rio Alhama. We started from the Pantaneta de Alhama, while we were waiting for the rest of the group to arrive I had a quick scan over the pool, which was quiet except for a few Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and a couple of Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) sitting on the dam wall. The first stretch of the walk follows the irrigation canal down as far as a Poplar plantation and a bridge which crossed the Rio, along here I picked up three Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) chasing each other through the River side Willows, Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), singing Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and a chatting Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). Once we crossed the bridge we were out in the open more and had views of the crags, Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) could be heard wheezing from a small cave covered by a small Fig Tree and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) were all seen on or flying from the cliffs. The best bird of the day then flew into view and slowly flapped by; a cracking adult Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) then ditched rather than landed in a small Almond tree on the top of the far side of the gorge giving us good views. Also along this stretch we added Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), heard Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla).
We then started to climb up towards the town, in the air over the buildings House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris),
Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) were feeding along with Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts. (Vencejo Real / Apus melba).
Once we were in the town we popped into one of the bars on the square and had a drink and some Tapa’s before a short walk around the town. At his point the group split, half stopping for Menu del Dia and the rest of us heading back along the gorge via a slightly different route to start with. Along the way new species included Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), the second large raptor for the day a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and just to finish off on a high as we walked back to the car a pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) soared out over the pool and away.
Butterflies were common during the whole walk with dozens of Moroccan Orange Tip (Anthocharis belia) being seen making the commonest species of the morning, we also saw good numbers of Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
Orchids were few but I did see a group of Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea) and just a couple of Mirror (Ophrys speculum). In contrast wild flowers were prolific and they included Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Bellardia trixago, Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus), Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae), Helianthemum lavandulifolium, White Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus), Linaria aeruginea, Navel-wort (Omphalodes commutata), Roemeria hybrida, Sarcocapnos pulcherrima and Intermediate Perriwinkle (Vinca difformis).
Photographs from the top: Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), White Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus), Linaria aeruginea, Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri), Roemeria hybrida and Sarcocapnos pulcherrima.