13 of us started out from the car park at the southern side of the dam and walked along the road towards Cuevas de San Marcos and we soon found several spikes of Italian or Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica) which after being shown a close up of the flower most people could guess why it got its English name. At the same spot we also had a nice spike of Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera) right at the foot of a pine tree. In the trees around us we could hear and see Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus) heard only, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and 4 x Great Tits (Carbonero Común / Parus major) which were chasing each other around in some sort of territorial dispute. Further on we picked up several wild flowers growing on the verges including Dwarf Red Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae), Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Field Marigold (Calendula arvensis), Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus), Soft Stork's-bill (Erodium malacoides), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum) and White Mustard (Sinapis alba). Just before we turned right and walked down the road a little to an over grown view point we saw the third species of orchid, a nice spike of Giant Orchid (Barlia robertiana) was growing behind a small shrub the old English name for this plant was Hyacinth Orchid and most of the group could see why. Further on we saw Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Doves-foot Cranesbill (Geranium Molle) and Warty Spurge (Euphorbia squamigera) along with a small flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) which stayed at the back of the pine trees and did not show well but they could be heard clearly. We walked back up on to the road again and started back towards the cars but searching on the opposite banks. I was very pleased when we found a couple of the locally rare Bumble-bee Orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora) in flower, two very short stubby looking specimens and a nice normal looking plant. In a small fire break a little further on we had a few spikes of the uncommon Ophrys subfusca a small but smart Bee-Orchid. Cherry and Dennis then called me a little further up the back to where they had found a small group of Somber Bee Orchids (Abejera oscura / Ophrys fusca) a much taller more Robust plant than the subfusca.We then made our way back past the car and started the walk across the dam from here we added House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and a single Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) which disappeared off over the pines. In the gutters on the dam top quite a lot of wildflowers were growing in the road side cracks including Cliffhanger (Chaenorhinum villosum), Cut-leaved Valerian (Centranthus calcitrapae), White Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Hispanicum), Small Melilot (Melilotus indica) and Star Clover (Trifolium stellatum). As we reached the far side a nice group of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) were feeding along the cliffs, a single Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) flew over our heads, both Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) were seen over the cliff tops, a male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) perched on a low rock singing and a couple of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) landed inside a cave and disappeared from view. Rock Phagnalon (Phagnalon saxatile) was growing out of the rocks and down in some small conifer trees we watched a small party of at least 8 Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) feeding. When we reached the end of the path where it joined the road again the decision was made to turn around and head back towards the cars, on the way a couple of Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) flew over and a female Blue Rock Thrush was seen perched right out in the open.
Other birds seen during the stroll included Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). A few butterflies were also seen including a nice Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). Even though the Orchid numbers were much lower than expected we saw a nice general scattering of the local species and I hope everyone enjoyed the 3 hours. As Carole, Janet, Brenda and I travelled home we had a cracking male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) flying over the Olive trees and whilst we were having lunch back at home on the roof terrace a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) flew over the trees behind the house.Photographs from the top: Italian or Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica), Showing the differences in two Orchids, Dwarf Red Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae), Bumble-bee Orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora), Ophrys subfusca, Cliffhanger (Chaenorhinum villosum), Cut-leaved Valerian (Centranthus calcitrapae), White Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Hispanicum), male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).