Saturday 19 March 2011

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

Tracking down some of the rarer Ophrys.

Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax)
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) amongst others. In the parking area the first orchids were seen and they were Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea) and Sawfly Orchids (Ophrys tenthredinifera).
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
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.
Ophrys x Castroviejoi.
As we walked around we picked up a few Ophrys Dyris and Mirror Orchids (Ophrys 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 and Ophrys speculum = Ophrys x Castroviejoi.
Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica).
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.
Juan getting shots of the best find of the day.
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.
Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla).
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.
Italian Man Orchids (Orchis italica).
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.
Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta).
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.
Bumble-bee Orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora).
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 (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 (Himantoglossum robertiana), Sawfly  (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca), Ophrys subfusca, Ophrys dyris and the last species of the day Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta).

Friday 18 March 2011

Ventorros de San Jose Area, Granada Province.

Two more Orchids for the year list.

Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Jayne and I went for a local run out in the car to look for a small pool a friend Chris Goodacre had mention has some amphibians in it. We first went to the wrong place near some burial chambers at Zagra but it was certainly not a waste of time as very good views of Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) were had. 
View ot to Embalse de Iznajar.
I also found a single spike of Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana) and several of Fan-lipped Orchids (Orchis collina) along with the very smart Narcissus gaditanus which was growing quite commnly at the site. I went for a short walk along the crag tops near by and found a few spikes of Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera) growing in amongst the low scrub.
We then took the correct track and quickly found the pool and there were loads of Iberian Pond Frogs (Rana perezi) there along with their thousands of tadpoles.
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We then made our way back stopping to photograph a water spot for the local goats and calling in on the Northern slopes of Hacho near Loja. 
Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Olbiensis).
Here I found another couple of spikes of Giant Orchid, loads of Somber Bee (Ophrys fusca subsp fusca) and some nice pale versions of Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Mascula ssp Olbiensis).
Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Olbiensis).

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Venta del Zafarraya Area, Granada Province.

In search of white Orchids.

Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Today’s quest was to find a white variant of the Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana) which Mary-Ann, a member of the Axarquia Bird group had e-mailed me a photograph of. On the way there I saw several small flocks of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and 3x Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) which flew low over the road in amongst the Olive trees.
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
As soon as I arrived at the site I started to find Giant Orchids of varying shades of pink/red but not the white ones I had come for. I found several spikes of Fan-lipped Orchids (Orchis collina) and a few Conical Orchids (Orchis conica) just poking their heads above ground but not really in flower yet. Eventually I found a spike of the white plant but it was not the one Mary-Ann had found as it was still in bud. Well, a couple of hours later I stumbled across two plants of the white variant in bloom and they were well worth the search. 
Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus).
While I had been searching I picked up Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
I then started to make my way home via the agricultural areas to the east of Zafarraya and up through Salar, on the way I found a nice pair of Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) near the roadside which stayed while I set up the camera which made a nice change and did not move a muscle even when a huge lorry thundered by. 
Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra).
I also added loads of Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and again one sat long enough for a couple of shots, Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).

Venta del Zafarraya, Granada Province.

Variations in Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana) flowers.

All the following shots were taken today and with in 5 meters of each other.

Hypochromatic ????? Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).

Monday 14 March 2011

Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

Summer migrants.

I was on my way down to the builders merchants for yet another bag of tile adhesive, on the way a passage flock of about 25 Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) was seen feeding low over the fields during a patch of light rain and on the way back towards the house several
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) were seen on a newly planted lettuce field.