Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Loja to Zafarraya Road, Granada Province.

In search of later Orchids but only finding ones for next year.

After a brief visit to the English in Loja meeting I headed off down the valley towards the town of Zafarraya to look for some Orchids. On the way down a small group of 8 or so Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) were soaring in the fantastic blue skies over the western slopes of Sierra de Loja and at several points along the road Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) were perched up high looking for their next meal. Once in the area I started to find the leaf rosettes of Giant Orchids (Barlia robertiana) by the dozen this looked good for next years show. In the Oaks surrounding this site I could see and hear Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) which along with White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) at this time of year are almost constantly on view where ever you are. I moved a little further on towards Zafarraya and stopped in a lay-by and walked for a KM or so back towards Loja. During this walk which was on a nice sunny length of road I picked up quite a few species of butterfly including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Brimstone (Limonera / Gonepteryx rhamni), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) not bad for the first of November! In all the areas visited the commonest wildflower was the Southern Autumn Crocus (Crocus serotinus) which grew in therir hundreds. Birds included Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), singing Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina).
On the way home I went back across the fields north of Huétor Tajar to see if I could find the late arriving Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flock which for the last five years had been on site by now. I did not find the Bustards but I had some stunning views of a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus), lots more Azure-winged Magpies, Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a snoozing Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which look very happy having a nap in the nice warm sun.
Photographs from the top: Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Southern Autumn Crocus (Crocus serotinus).

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