Friday, 25 May 2012

Arroya Marin, Salinas and above Trabuco, Malaga Province

Birds, Butterflies (21 species), Orchids and a few Dragon's(one new for my Spanish list).

After taking Jayne and her friend Carole to Trabuco where they were joining a small group of friends to do some craft work I went over to Arroya Marin near Archidona to do some birding. As soon as I entered the valley the trees along the river rang with the song of Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), there seemed to be a bird in every other tree. Common Cuckoos (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) were also heard almost continually during the morning and the fluting song and cat like scolding of the Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) was also a regular sound. Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) were also seen and heard from the areas of Oak trees, while a Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) seemed to be perched on every dead branch that I looked at all along the drive. I stopped by the first bridge hoping to see some dragonflies, except for a fleeting glimpse of a small insect which disappeared over the treetops I saw none, butterflies on the other hand were everywhere, over the grassland and broom scrub above the track there were lots of Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellows (Colias crocea), Small Coppers (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heaths (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus) and a couple of Scarce Swallowtails (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli). A Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) was joined down on the pebble beach by an immature White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), the song of a Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) coming from the stream side scrub made a change from the Nightingales and in the trees above the river both Pied (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca) and Spotted Flycatchers (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) were seen and heard. Further along the river the story was the same, no dragons but lots of butterflies, this time I added Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Common (Polyommatus icarus), Holly (Celastrina argiolus) and Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). On the back above the stream there were a couple of spikes of Man Orchid (Aceras anthropophorum) where last year there had been dozens, a very late spike of Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera) and the find of the day two spikes of the rare Mirror/Iberian Orchid (Ophrys speculum subsp lucitanica). In the trees a large family party of Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) were feeding amongst the leaves while a small family of Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) was seen just perched in the dead upper branches of a distant pine tree. On my walk back to the car I picked up Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) and then surprisingly heard a calling Eurasian Scops Owl (Autillo Europeo / Otus scops) I also heard another later near the entrance to the site. I then started to drive back to the start of the track stopping several times on the way, the first stop was by a dead tree where a cracking Woodchat Shrike was perched singing. After a while he moved on to be replace by a male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), then a singing Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and finally and probably most surprisingly by a male Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus) which sang for around 2 second, allowed me to line up the scope and then flew off. A little further on I stopped again this time amongst the Oak trees along the stream hoping to get some good views of the singing from every bush Nightingales but they must have a built in sense that tells them when a birder has got his camera ready. I could hear them right infromt of me but could I see one could I heck. I did get nice flight views of the male Golden Oriole and a female came and sat in the tree right in front of me but as usual just behind enough branches to make the shot useless. Along here I also added Bee (Ophrys apifera) and Pyramidal (Orquidea pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia) to the Orchid list and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) to the butterflies. My last stop was near the weigh bridge at the start of the track were I added a few new species to the day list including a fine Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and as a nice finish to the trip long the track a pair of Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) which soared over head calling.
I them moved on to a site near to the village of Salinas on the border between Malaga and Granada Provinces where I visited a small spring feed pool in an area of agricultural land. The first birds seen were a pair of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) which were breeding in a derelict old Cortijo along with several pairs of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). On the pool I found a pair of patrolling Blue / Common Emperors (Anax imperator), several Broad Scarlets (Crocothemis erythraea) and lots of the dainty little Iberian Bluetail’s (Ischnura graellsii). A little way along the track there is a small ditch with a small amount of running water in it which is surrounded by nice marginal weeds, in here I had a new species for my Spanish Dragonfly list, there were dozens of Mercury Bluet (Coenagrion mercuriale) slowly flicking around in amongst the Water Speedwells. Then a male Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) landed on a stick on the far side of the ditch and this was the point at which I made the only mistake of the day in thinking that a nice solid bit of grass would give me a stepping point over to the far side. Wrong, before I knew it I was up to my knee in some none to pleasant smelling mud and to make matters worse I the lost my balance and ended up with the other leg in a similar situation (this situation may remind some old birding friends of an iccident at Tichwell but with an Orchid on that occasion)! After dragging my self out of the slop I went back to the pool and had a wash down before carrying on to another small pool nearby, here the only new species were a single Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and a group of fly through European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
My last stop of the day was in the pinewoods above Trabuca, by the time I reached this point it was hot so I had not expected to see much so it was good to add a few more species, these included Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae). On the drive down a medium sized Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) was seen on the track and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Moroccan Orange Tip (Anthocharis belia), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra) were added to the days long butterfly list. I then pick Jayne and Carole up and we made our way home.
Photographs from the top: Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Mirror/Iberian Orchid (Ophrys speculum subsp lucitanica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), bad shot of a female Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), teneral Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea) 3x Mercury Bluet (Coenagrion mercuriale) and Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida).

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