Friday 8 April 2011

Alhama Gorge, Alhama de Granada, Granada Province.

Royal British Legion walking group.

Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes).
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. 
White Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus).
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. 
Linaria aeruginea.
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).
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri).
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. 
Roemeria hybrida.
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.
Sarcocapnos pulcherrima.
Butterflies were common during the whole walk with dozens of Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes) 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).

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