A new Orchid for our Granada Lists.
Juan and I set off from the usual meeting point at Aki and drove down to Motril and on to the sea watch point near Torrenuavo, on the way we had some nice views of a pair of Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) which were flying close to the side of the motorway. Once we reached the spot for the sea watch we made the decision to stay slightly off the top of the hill as it was a bit breezy up there. Birds were few and far between which given that the wind was coming inland was a bit of a surprise, we recorded just 5 Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) all in one group heading west, a single Kittiwake (Gaviota Tridactila / Rissa tridactila) which was also heading west. Juan did not see either of these species as I had shouted that they were heading east by mistake and sent him looking in totally the wrong direction (Sorry Juan). Other species seen included Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). Juan picked up a Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) and what was probably a Arctic Skua (Págalo Parásito / Stercorarius parasiticus) both of which I missed even with the correct directions from Juan. A female Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) past in front of us a few times, the first it was eating prey whilst in flight. Other species seen included Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We then made our way to a site in the mountains where we were looking for Orchids with the main target being Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica). We parked near the site and finished off by walking along a dirt track and on to the slopes of a steep sided ravine where we started to find good numbers of Pink Butterfly (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea), Mirror (Espejo de Venus / Ophrys speculum subsp speculum), Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), Dense-Flowered (Neotinea maculata) and Sawfly Orchids (Abejorros, flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera). After around an hour and a half of searching I heard the distinctive sound of a very pleased Spanish Orchid hunter calling me from down on the lower slopes and guest that Juan had found our Target. I reached him and he showed me a short nearly opened Ophrys atlantica which was a cracking find and a new Orchid species for my Granada list but was not the best specimen for photograph. After another few minutes Juan again came up trumps with a couple of spikes which were in full bloom and in perfect condition. We spent quite a while getting some nice shots of this beautiful orchid before making our way back to the car. Birds in this area included Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Nightingale, Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and quite a few Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica). Other wildlife was made up of a few butterflies, Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus), Moroccan Orange Tip (Anthocharis belia), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli) and Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) plus the usual common whites. In a small deposito on the slopes there were a lot of tadpoles of Common Toad (Bufo bufo) and in the grass on the slopes there were a couple of Large Psammodromus (Emys orbicularis) which rushed for cover very quickly.
We then started the drive down towards Charca del Suarez but we soon realized that we were not going to be there on time so Juan phoned Manuel the warden and between them sorted out our access to the site for the afternoon. Up till this point the weather had been pretty kind to us but this was not going to last and once we were looked in it took a nose dive. Soon we were getting heavy rain storms passing and the wind just went from strength to strength which did not help with the birding let alone photography. Anyway we did have some nice views of the Baillon’s Crake (Pollueta chica / Porzana pusilla) from the same hide as last week along with 15 Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) in flight as they moved on east, Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Yellow-legged Gull, Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) later we saw an adult with two very young chicks and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta). In the air over the pool there were large numbers of hirundines and Swifts including Red-rumped and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia) and Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus). After hoping the Baillon's might come and site out in the open nicely for about 2 hours we gave up and went around to the main hide to look for last weeks Little Crake (Polluela bastarda / Porzana parva) but the wind was just lashing across this pool and any self respecting Crake was tucked up in a nice thick stand of Iris’s and staying well out of view. We did however see a singing Sedge Warbler (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) only in flight, Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and heard Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus). We later walked back around the reserve towards the main gate to be let out at 18:00, on the way we saw a single adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) in the usual roosting area, another Bonelli’s Warbler, White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major). We also heard both Iberian Water (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) and Stripeless Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis) during the rain storms.
We then made the trip back up the motorway to Aki where I dropped Juan at his car and started the journey back home, on the way I added Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and a fine male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) to the day list.
Photographs from the top: Pink Butterfly (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea), Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), Dense-Flowered (Neotinea maculata), 2x Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) hanging on for dear life during one of the breezier moments.