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).

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Laguna Herrera, Antequera, Malaga Province.

On the way to work again.

Just the usual stop off at the Lagoon on the way to work, it’s a tough job some one has to do it. The first bird seen was a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) picked up via it’s farting like call in a fallow field of weeds and in the same area the local Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) were making hovering look just a tad harder than normal in the still calm. A little further long the track the first of the many Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) was seen singing from the top of last years Fennel stems and several Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) zigzagged up from the verge along with the less common (at this site only) Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata).
The first stop was at a gate way looking out over some flooded fields; here bird numbers were down due to most of the wildfowl moving north to their breeding grounds. I did see several Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), a couple of late or injured Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a single Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) not a bird I record often at this site.
On the main lagoon there were better numbers of Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), lots of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Common (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
On the flooded fields there were no Flamingo’s and just a few ducks and Black-winged Stilts. Over the Lagoon and in the reeds I added Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
I then went up to the hotel for the days walk but nothing was noted of interest.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Illora area, Granada Province.

Ruta de las Orchideas.

Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis collina).
First of all I meet up with Juan Perez and his wife Beatriz just on the edge of the town of Illora and then we made our way through some tight streets to the town hall where we met up with Jose Luis Esteban Sanchez who was leading the group as part of a day with Illora Natural.
We first drove to a spot just a few KM from the town and parked by a water deposito that had been adapted to assist the local Amphibian population. We then walked through an area of Olive groves, Oak trees and rough ground picking up good numbers of Fan-lipped (Orchis collina), Mirror (Ophrys speculum), Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Southern Early Purple (Orchis Olbiensis) and Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys Lutea). 
Checking their shots.
We continued on through more Olives and across a couple of fallow fields and out on to some grassland where we found some very nice Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) spikes and some Lizard Orchids (Himantoglossum hircinum) which were a long way off flowering. Also a long way off flowering were the next two species, In a small area of Oaks Jose Juis showed us two spikes of Purple Limodore (Limodorum abortivum) and some leaf rosettes of Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea). A little further on we added a few spikes of Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca) which were still in good flower. 
Hypochromatic Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Olbiensis).
We were finding groups of Giant Orchids regularly as we started to climb up one of the smaller sierra's, on the way up we heard our first Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) of the year and found the only Italian Man Orchid (Orchis italica) of the day. Also seen along here was an albino Southern Early Purple Orchid, plus lots more Yellow Bee and Mirror. We continued to climb and then dropped down into some Pine woodland here we picked up the small multi-flowered Narcissus baeticus and nearby a still to be identified Narcissus. 
More of the group.
Our route then took us back down hill through some ancient almond groves to the car. We then all returned to Illora for a well earned drink. Other wild flowers seen during the walk included Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Aphyllanthes (Aphyllanthes monspliensis), Spring Rockcress (Arabis verna), Blue Woodruff (Asperula arvensis), Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestrs), Spotted Rockrose (Tuberaria guttata), Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata), Med Buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae) and Brown Bluebell (Dipcadi serotinum).
Narcissus baeticus.