Thursday 21 April 2011

Laguna Herrera, Antequera, Malaga Province.

The usual pre-work visit.

Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus).
As soon as I was off the road and on to the track the call of at least two male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) could be heard raspberrying out of the Mustard filled fallow field, one of the birds was showing really well. Just a few meters further on a pair of Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flew up off the track and landed on the edge of the palm plantation and stood there for several minutes but the light was far too bad for any photos. 
I then parked by the first gate on the right overlooking the flooded fields and added good numbers of Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), a pair of Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), several Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), along with a single Whiskered (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus) and two Blacks (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger). 
Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata).
The only ducks were 40 or so Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), a pair of Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and a small group of 5 Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina). Other species seen here included Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), 7x Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), the singing Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) from a few days ago, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). 
Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber).
Along the side of the main lagoon I again saw a small flock of Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), a single Wood Sandpiper (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa Glareola), 2x Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). In the air Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) were all flying down at low levels due to the heavy cloud and drizzle, a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) was upsetting the Black-winged Stilts and a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) was being hassled by several of the local Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) flock. Also picked up along this stretch of the track wereSpanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Woodchat (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra).
On the drive around the fields back to the Antequera road I had some fabulous views of at least 30+ Lesser Kestrels, some of which perched nicely whilst I drove past them at close range, they could tell the light was too bad for the camera else they would have been off. In this area I picked up Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and a cracking male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
I then started up towards the Hotel for todays hike when I recieved a call to say all the guests were staying in the Gym and the walk was cancelled, which meant I was home nice and early.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Loja to Zafarraya road, Granada Province.

2nd English Group Orchid (and wildlife) morning.

Lange's Orchid (Orchis langei).
Before the meeting I went and checked a site near by where last year we had tried to find Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) but failed, as soon as I arrived this year there were two males and a female in the air displaying and they were soon joined by another pair of birds. They performed alomst continually for the next 3/4 of an hour, also noted were Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). 
I then returned to Venta del Raya where the 17 strong group met up and eventually set off back to the Harrier field were the birds again showed very nicely. We then moved on down the road towards Zafarraya and to the first of the Orchid stops in an area of Oak woodland. The sun was out as we arrived but was soon covered by a heavy layer of low cloud which along with a stiff breeze made it quite cold. 
Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia).
We started our stroll along the road side seeing numerous Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), a couple of going over Sawfly (Abejorros, flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera) of the early flowering, short variety tenthredinifera and several Conical Orchid (Orchis conica). 
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus).
A singing Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) was heard as we approached the denser woodland, once amongst the trees we started to hear the first of many Bonelli’s Warblers (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) one which showed well low down on the ground. A little further on we discovered the basical rosette of a Helleborine (Epipactis) species which I guess will eventually be Epipactis tremolsii, a new species for my Granada Province list. In the same area we also added the taller later flowering Sawfly variaty (Ophrys tenthredinifera var ficalhoana) which had the lower flowers just open, a couple of Lange's (Orchis langei), Mirror (Ophrys speculum subsp speculum) and on the far side of a clearing a nice group of Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia). 
Last year at this time the Sword-leaved Helleborine, Lange's Orchids and the later Sawfly's were nowhere near being in flower, the early hot spell which was just ending as we did this walk had certainly pushed some species on to early flowering. On the far side of the two houses at the site we found several decent spikes of Giant (Himantoglossum robertiana), a single Dense-Flowered Orchid (Neotinea maculata), some going over Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Olbiensis) and many not yet in flower Lizard Orchids (Himantoglossum hircinum). 
Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi).
As we walked back towards the car we past through a large immpressive patch of Sword-leaved Helleborines which had most of the groups cameras in action. Other birds included Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). A loo stop was then planned on the way to do some birding along the disused railway line at Venta de Zafarraya but when we arrived the visability was down to a few meters so we had a coffee and made our way back to the next Orchid site just out of the town on the way back up the Loja road. 
Group looking at the Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea).
We parked and made our way out into an area of open Oak woodland, straight away we started to see many over with Giant and Fan-lipped Orchids, along with more Conical and Yellow Bees. Our first new find was a white petaled Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta) and very close by a single fine specimen of of the beautiful Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea). We walked further around the site and saw a nice group of the Butterfly and more Small Woodcock Orchids. We moved out onto the meadow at the Loja end of the site where there were hundreds of Yellow Bee and Mirror Orchids along with a few yet to flower Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalia) and Small Tongue Orchid (Serapias parviflora). 
Tragopogon hybridum.
In a brief bit of sunshine we managed to record the only butterflies of the day, these were Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Provencal Hairstreak (Tomares ballus) and Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus). 
Wildflowers seen during the walk included Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Bellardia trixago, Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Ronda Cranesbill (Geranium malviflorum), Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus), Tall Bearded Iris (Iris germanica), Linaria anticaria, Linaria hirta, Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi), Silvery Paronychia (Paronychia argentea), Tragopogon hybridum and False Sainfoin (Vicia onobrychioides).
False Sainfoin (Vicia onobrychioides).
On the way back to Loja our car got some fantastic views of a single Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which passed over our heads a couple of times before moving off down the valley.