Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Grazalema Area, Cadiz Province.

Day two and three new Dragonflies for my Spanish List!

After a good but warm nights sleep we were up in time to leave with Sue and Sam for the trip up to Grazalema so the Sam could join Clive before going to school. On the way up there were several early morning Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) up over the nearby crags. We met Clive and then went and had some breakfast at one of the bars in town. Later we all jumped into our car and headed up the hill out of town to visit a small lake that Sue had visited a week or so earlier and had recorded some good Dragon and Butterfly species. On the way I mentioned to Sue that I had never seen the local endemic Grazalema Poppy (Papaver rupifragum) so we did a quick change of direction and were soon on a roadside car park and starting a walk up the nearby mountain. On the way we saw lots of Iberian Marbled Whites (Melanargia lachesis), along with Brown Argus (Aricia agestis cramera), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto). After around 20 minutes we reached a rocky out crop where we soon found several flowering plants of the poppy, a week or two earlier and the spot would have been covered going by the number of seed heads. In the same area there we also recorded several more rare plants including Mountain Catchfly (Silene andryalifolia), Spanish Crassula (Pistorinia hispanica) and Campanula specularioides. In the same area we picked up a Large Skipper (Ochlodes venatus), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi) and Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus). On the way back down we also found a couple of Orchids, first were a small group of the none fragrant Bug Orchid (Orchis coriophora) and the other was a single spike of Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) out on the road side. A new water trough had been put in at the site and around here we found a couple more butterfly species including a possible Dusky Meadow Brown (Lobito / Hyponephele lycaon) but as usual when your not sure they do a quick exit, Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and the day flying Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum).
Our next stop was at the original lake or at the top of a track which takes you down to it, straight away we were swamped by Iberian Marbled Whites, they were seen during this walk literally in their hundreds. Heading down hill we saw another Grayling species which did not sit around long enough for me to get a good enough look at it, a moth on the underside of a plant called Lasciocampa trifolii and lots of the white Thistle called Cynara baetica, a single plant of Achillea ageratum and some Meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum subsp glaucum). We then reached the lake where a small Skipper species was seen and photographed and later Identified as Olive Skipper ( Pyrgus serratulae) and along with a female Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) this made for a good start by the lake but it was about to get even better. A little way along the eastern shore Sue spotted a Dragonfly settled in a gorse bush eating a rather large Mayfly type thing, this turned out to be the second new Dragon for my Spanish list on this trip. It was a fine male Pronged Clubtail (Gomphus graslinii) and it did not want to fly so we had a great chance to get some nice shots of this cracking insect. After spending quite a while admiring the Clubtail we continued on along the shore line to some reeds where Jayne sat her self down on a nice shaded rock while Sue and I continued the hunt. Here we also recorded White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), a couple of male Violet Dropwings, a male Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum), another Clubtail and then the second gem of the morning. I had spotted a second Pronged Clubtail up in a tree along the track above where we were sat, so Sue when up to get some shots and on her way back down found a tandem pair of the uncommon Orange Featherlegs (Platycnemis acutipennis) which I did not get shots of but Sue managed to get one which she has kindly let me use here in the blog. We then had two more glimpse of species that will remain unknown, a smallish all dark looking dragon which reminded me of yesterdays Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) and also a tandem pair of Skimmers which managed to give us the slip even though we were both certain that we knew which clump of Rush they were in.
We then started the walk back up towards the car, on the way we saw Dusky Heath (Ninfa de Esper / Coenonympha dorus) and Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora). Once we reached the car we decided that we would head for some lunch with a quick stop near the sewage treatment work below Grazalema, here we soon had the main target species under the belt there were at least two male Broad-bodied Chasers (Libellula depressa) along with an egg laying female. These were accompanied by several Southern and Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma), several male Blue / Common Emperors and an egg laying female.
Our next stop was lunch at a bar nearby, after eating we decided to visit another lake near by that Sue had again been to a week or so earlier and had recorded some interesting species. We arrive and were greeted by the calls of Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), the chipping of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and singing Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans). We walked for a while through some Oak woodlands before reaching the man made lake in amongst the trees, on the margins we saw several Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) which were coming down to drink. Jayne again found a nice shady spot and Sue and I went looking to see what was about,, we soon added a good number of Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum) and a nice male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) to the list. In a small out let pool several male Violet Dropwings were being chased around by a couple of Blue / Common Emperors but we could not find much more so we returned to Jayne who pointed out a huge male Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) which she had been watching taking a mud bath on the far side of the lake. On the water there were good numbers of Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra) but little else but of more interest was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) on the muddy margins. In the woods a Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) was heard and Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) were all seen.
We then walked back to the cars and said our goodbyes to Sue and started the Journey home, which apart form several Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and a couple of Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) was uneventful.
Photographs from the top: Grazalema Poppy (Papaver rupifragum), male Brown Argus (Aricia agestis cramera), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Spanish Crassula (Pistorinia hispanica), Campanula specularioides, Lasciocampa trifolii, Cynara baetica, Olive Skipper ( Pyrgus serratulae), female Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Mantis species, Pronged Clubtail (Gomphus graslinii), Orange Featherlegs (Platycnemis acutipennis) and Jayne relaxing in the shade.

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