Saturday 2 April 2011

RAM, near Charca del Suarez and Cerro Gordo, Granada Province.

Two new Orchid species for my Granada List.

Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla).
Juan and I found ourselves back at the usual spot near Motril to carry out the monthly RAM sea bird count and I remembered my chair this month which made for an all together more comfortable experience. The hour and a half spent up on the cliff tops was very quiet in sea bird terms, with just small numbers of Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) and a couple of Great Skua's (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) being recorded. 
Champagne Orchid (Orchis Champagneuxii).
The usual Gulls included Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), a few Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) left over from winter and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). It was nice to see some visible migration whilst we were there including good numbers of hirundines and swifts heading North and both Squacco (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) and Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) coming into view from far out at sea. 
Small blue Convulvulus (Convolvulus siculus).
Other birds seen here included Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), 2x Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus).
We stopped off at the port quickly but birds were few, we did add Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) to the list but most of the gulls had moved on.
Cytinus hypocistis.
We then tried but failed to get into Charca, during the breeding season the access is even more restricted than usual, so we looked on the marshes near by. We picked up Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata).
Our next stop was further along the coast at Cerro Gordo, a small headland near the Malaga boarder. Here the objective changed to Orchids and as soon as we walked out towards the old tower we found the first target species, Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla). Several plants were found amongst the scrub and later many more were seen in the pine woods, all were slightly past their best but identifiable. In this area we also saw Yellow Bee (Abejera amarilla / Ophrys Lutea), Pink Butterfly (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea) and Mirror Orchids (Espejo de Venus / Ophrys speculum subsp speculum). On the bird front we picked up Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba). 
Phlomis purpurea.
We then returned to the café and walked down through the Pine woods seeing Somber Bee (Abejera oscura / Ophrys fusca subsp fusca), Fan-lipped (Orchis collina) and the second new species, a single flowering spike of Champagne Orchid (Orchis Champagneuxii). Other wildflowers included Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Yellow Anemone (Anemone palmate), Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia baetica), Yellow Sea Aster (Asteriscus maritimus), Borage (Borago officinalis), Cut-leaved Valerian (Centranthus calcitrapae), Blue Dreams (Chaenorrhinum Glareosum), Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus), Narrow-leaved Cistis (Cistis monspeliensis), Small blue Convulvulus (Convolvulus siculus), Cytinus hypocistis, Brown Bluebell (Dipcadi serotinum), Purple Vipers Bugloss (Echium lycopsis), Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Iberis pectinata, Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Hemp Broomrape (Orobanche ramose), Phlomis purpurea and Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys).

Friday 1 April 2011

Rio Velez and Road to Zafarraya, Malaga Province and Zafarraya to Loja road, Granada Province.

Birding the Coast and Mountains.

Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
I started the day with a walk along the Rio Velez and some sea watching from the beach. As soon as I was out of the car I picked up the first of a couple of Squacco Herons (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) perching high in the reed tops along the far side of the river. Having scoped the Squacco I dropped down the bank and moved towards the beach picking up a cracking group of three Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) which I got good views of before they worked out that I was ready with the camera and flew off up stream to be replaced by two slightly less interesting Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). 
Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
As I walked down stream I added Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) to the list. Once I was on the beach I set the scope up and started to scan the sea for birds but it was very quiet, I did see Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). 
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
On the return walk back to the car several Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus)were seen and heard along with Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) which posed nicely by the pumping station. Also seen near here were Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and a cracking male Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum).
On the way home we stopped breifly on the climb up to Zafarraya to watch a late display flight from a Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and just as we crossed back into Granada Province we picked up 4x Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and a flock of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
Conical Orchid (Orchis conica).
Further on we stopped a couple of times for me to look at the Orchids, they included Fan-lipped (Orchis collina), Giant (Himantoglossum robertiana), Mirror (Ophrys speculum), Conical (Orchis conica), Pink Butterfly (Orchis papilionacea), Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Small Early Purple (Orchis Olbiensis), Somber Bee (Ophrys fusca), Yellow Bee (Ophrys Lutea) and the new shoots of Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia) which were about 5cm above the ground.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Laguna Dulce, Teba, Campillos Lagoons, Fuente de Piedra and Laguna Herrera, Malaga Province.

A days guiding in Malaga Province. 

White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala).
I picked Peter up from Antequera and we headed out to Laguna Dulce near Campillos, on the way I learnt that Peter was a Brit who had moved out to Finland some 30 years ago and by the time we reached the Lagoon I had turned a funny shade of green (with envy) after he was telling me about all the species he gets near his house, including Hawk Owl. I did feel slightly better when he also pointed out that the temperature drops down to minus something absolutely ridiculous.
The first species we saw were on the flooded crop fields to the right of the main pool and these included at least 50 Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae). 
Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina).
The mosquitos were horrendous at this spot and if I did not already know that Peter was from Finland I would probably have guest he was from that direction somewhere at this point. I was bouncing around swatting them like a demented Morris Dancer on speed whilst he was totally ignoring them and telling me that these pitiful things were no match for the boys they get in Finland.
We then moved to the hide which was a little better where we added another new species to Peters life list, around 10 White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) showed well, along with loads of Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Common (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), 2x Tufted Ducks (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). 
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber).
There were a lot of Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) on the water and some that were feeding in acrobatic flocks along with several Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus) and at least one Black Tern (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger). Other species seen here included Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a singing Sedge Warbler (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus).
We then made a move towards Teba but before we left we had a quick scan of the tamarisks at the far end of the slip road and added an adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) and a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). We went past the raptor view point and on to the gorge, as soon as we parked up we could hear the years first Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), along with Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). 
Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta).
Once we were down in the gorge we started to add some more species to Peter’s life list, these included Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). Whilst here we also noted Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and a very brief view of a Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) which unfortunately Peter missed.
We then went back to the watch point, on the way we saw a nice flock of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) on the road side wires. Next we added another of the birds on Peter’s wanted list, during the time at the watch point we saw 4 of the required Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), along with Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
On our way to Fuente de Piedra we called at a couple of the other lagoons near Campillos, at the first we had some brilliant views of Black-winged Stilts and fleeting glimpses of the noisy Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Further on we stopped on the roadside to watch a cracking group of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), a single Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), a couple of migrating male Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and a single calling male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
Our next stop was at Fuente de Piedra after picking up some lunch. From the area around the visitors centre we found several Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), 2 Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), a small flock of Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), migrating Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and a pair of passing Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax).
Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus).
The last stop of the day was at Laguna Herrera back near Antequera, we turned off the motorway near Mollina and went across to the lagoon via the farm tracks. There were a few Greater Flamingo’s on the Laguna but as usual there were many more on the flooded field near by. New birds for the day were a pair of Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), several Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), a pair of Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), a single Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), a heard but not seen Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and around 30 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni).

Embalse de Iznajar.

New Orchid species for my list.

Dark Spider Orchid (Ophrys incubacea).
After I dropped Peter back in Antequera I headed out towards the Dam at Embalse de Iznajar. After a tip off by Ian Phillips in Malaga I was hoping to pick up a new orchid species, he had found several spikes of Dark Spider Orchids (Ophrys incubacea). I started the search and with his excellent directions I very quickly found the first of the three spikes Ian told me about and then located the other two nearby. Also in this area I found loads of Mirror (Ophrys speculum), Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), Italian Man (Orchis italica) and Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Italian Man Orchid (Orchis italica) Hypochromatic.
A little further along the road I had a look at the Bumble-bee Orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora) seen a week or so earlier, whilst looking at these I looked up and found another three spikes of the Spider Orchids. A little further up the bank there was a nice group of around 50 more Italian Man Orchids including a couple of Hypochromatic white flowers and a Hybrid between Italian Man (Orchis Italica) and Man Orchid (Aceras anthropophorum) = Orchiaceras bivonae.
Orchiaceras bivonae.
Birds were few but I did pick up Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and very smart Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus).

Sunday 27 March 2011

El Chorro and travelling, Malaga Province.

Another RFH walk.

Man Orchid (Flor del Ahorcado / Aceras anthropophorum).
Today's hike was the usual Sunday trail around the El Chorro gorge area. 11 of us set off through the pine woodlands and down along the river to the far end of the Kings walk. On the way I was amazed how many Man Orchids (Flor del Ahorcado / Aceras anthropophorum) were growing under the Pine trees, during the walk I must have seen 500+ spikes. Also seen in good numbers were Mirror (Espejo de Venus / Ophrys speculum subsp speculum), Yellow Bee (Abejera amarilla / Ophrys Lutea) and Sawfly Orchids (Abejorros, flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera). Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) could be heard and seen almost continuously throughout the walk, along with Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus) and Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major). 
Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus).
Near the Kings walk we added flight views of Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Alpine (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). We then did the steady up hill stretch of the trail, at the top near one of the view points there was a nice colony of about 20 spikes of Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea). Also seen during the walk were Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Borage (Borago officinalis), Rock Marigold (Calendula suffruticosa), Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Brown Bluebell (Dipcadi serotinum), Purple Vipers Bugloss (Echium lycopsis), Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria hispanica) and Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), just a few of the wildflowers seen. Butterflies were also about as it was pleasantly warm and they included Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria hispanica).
During the journey back to the Hotel we passed Laguna Dulce and other flooded areas and picked up Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus).