Saturday 27 August 2011

Laguna Herrera and Torcal, Malaga Province.

A dry lagoon and lots of rocks.

The dry Lagoon.
I started off a bit early on my way over to work and called in at Laguna Herrera as I had not been there for a week or so. I was very surprised to find that the Lagoon was no more, just two damp patches of soil remained of the once very productive wetland. On the drive out along the track I saw a couple of Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) including a really nice bright immature bird. Also seen were Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and a nice pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which flew over the track.
Rock at Torcal.
I then made my way to the Hotel and then out to Torcal with the RFH guests for the usual Saturday morning walk. On the way around my group had some cracking views of a herd of about 15 Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica) which took very little notice of us and continued to feed on the very sweet Blackberrys. I also saw Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) and Large Psammodromus (Emys orbicularis) scramble away over the rocks and good numbers of butterflies including Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Striped Grayling (Pseudotergumia fidia), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea) and Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice).
Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica).
Birds included Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and loads of Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).

Friday 26 August 2011

Sierra Huétor, Granada Province.

Six Hunters 1 - 1 Goldfish.

Two of the hunters.
I met Juan Beatriz and friends José María, Agustín and Juanra at a site in the sierra where we were going to a small deposito (Alberca de Botones) out in the woods to try and remove a couple of Goldfish which had been released in to the site. The main reason is that the fish eat the spawn and smaller tadpoles of the endemic Midwife Toad (Sapo partero bético / Alytes dickhilleni) that breeds at the site. On arrival we soon caught the darker of the two but the much paler fish was much quicker and more difficult to see and it managed to elude capture all evening. The single fish caught was released next morning in one of the ornimental pools in the Lorca Park down in Granada. While we were there we heard an immature Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) calling from some pines.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Above Lanjaron, Cerro Gordo and Guejar-Sierra, Granada Province.

Three new Butterflies.

The View down towards the coast.
I met Juan at the car park at Aki on the outskirts of Granada before we headed off south towards Lanjaron and then up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains above the town. On the way up the long dirt track we had several views of a Nightjar species but due to the quickness of the sightings and the altitude we were unable to decide which of the two species present was involved. As the light started to improve we also saw Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius).
We reached the finca at Ballesteros and started to look around near the entrance and on the track towards the buildings, soon we were met by a pack of none to happy dogs and the farmer who at first was a little suspicious of us but was soon happy to show us around the farm.
Wasp Spiders (Arana Tigre / Argiope bruennichi).
Juan spent some time chatting to the chap whilst I had a look amongst the vegetation in one of the wet flushes on the hillside. I found lots of female Wasp Spiders (Arana Tigre / Argiope bruennichi) one which was in the process of wrapping up a newly caught grasshopper. By about 09:00 the sun had moved above the ridge and had started to warm things up, which meant the butterflies were starting to fly.
On the walk back to the car I got some shots of or had seen Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Striped Grayling (Pseudotergumia fidia), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Rock Grayling (Hipparchi alcyone), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia) and the three news species for me, Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea), Carline Skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) and Tree Grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus).

Striped Grayling (Pseudotergumia fidia).
Once we were back at the car we started off back down the hill and then turned towards another of the mountain finca’s, on the way we added Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Spectacled (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) and Orphean Warblers (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) to the list.
Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea).
We left the car at the end of the track and continued on towards the river on foot, more butterflies were seen on the steep walk down to the river including Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Purple Hairstreak (Quercusia Quercus), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
New birds included Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
Along a small irrigation channel just above the main river we also saw a single female Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) and a pair of Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) in tandem. Along the track we found several spikes of the tall Autumn Squill (Urginea maritime) from the very dry soil.
Carline Skipper (Pyrgus carlinae).
We returned to the car and drove down the track back to the motorway and then down to the coast and on to Cerro Gordo hoping to get views of the White-rumped Swift (Vencejo Cafre / Apus caffer) we had seen at the start of the month.
We arrived but could not locate any Swifts at all.
Good numbers of Red-rumped Swallows were still about along with a pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
Tree Grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus).
Whilst we stood looking for the swifts several Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica) ran across the road and during the visit we noted several Large Psammodromus (Emys orbicularis) Lizards. We next headed back north and into the Sierra Nevada via Granada and Guejar-sierra.
Grayling (Hipparchia semele).
Here we were looking for some dead spikes of Epipactis tremosii which Juan had found a few days earlier. All together we found six spikes and a further couple of Small-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis microphylla).
Epipactis tremosii.

Monday 22 August 2011

Rio Genil, Huetor Tajar, Granada Province.

New bird for the local patch list.

Jayne and I were heading out of Huetor Tajar and as we crossed the Rio Genil Bridge Jayne picked up a bird stood on a log in the centre of the water and said that she had some thing worth looking at. I turned in to the small tack on the far side of the river from the town and got the bins quickly onto a cracking Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) which was fishing from the log and then flew over to the far bank giving us some nice flight views.