Back up the hill again.
After Wednesdays day up in the Sierra Nevada seeing so many Butterflies I decided that I would go back to the same area and see if I could improve on some of the photographs I had taken. I dropped Jayne off on the edge of the city so that she could have a meander around the streets and I made my way straight up to the spot where Steve and Elena Powell and I had seen so many species two days earlier. On the drive up I had cracking views of a Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) which was soaring over some pine woods right next to the road. Once up on the tops the big difference with today was the wind which was much stronger and this kept things moving a lot more than I wanted, not just the insects but every thing they settled on which made getting shots a lot more difficult. I started in the wet flush right next to one of the hotels and quickly picked up several Silver-studded Blues (Plebejus argus hypochionus), a couple of Niobe Fritillaries (Argynnis niobe) and the first of many Meadow Fritillaries (Mellicta parthenoides). The Niobe behaved quite well and let me get some under wing shots but the sun was still quite low so it did not sit with it’s wings open at all. I then continued on along the track and started to see good numbers of Apollos (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) but even with the good numbers that were about they were not settling long enough for me to get any shots. Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis) and Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) were all seen before I turned left on to the track up towards the ski slopes. Along this track there are a couple of wet flushes which pour out on to the track and this attracts the Butterflies down to take on water and the minerals which are dissolved. Along here I managed to get some nice shots of a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Meadow Fritillary, Sliver-studded Blue and Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis). I bimbled around in this area for a couple more hours trying to dodge the herd of very large cows that seemed to like sleeping on the track near the flushes, whilst I was strolling I added Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius) and Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli) to the list. Also I was quite surprised to find quite a few plants of the endemic Aquilegia nevadensis growing on one of the grassier areas, also in the same area were lots of plants of Digitalis purpurea var nevadensis (Foxglove) and Verbascum nevadense.
I then drove up a bit higher and started to walk out along the trail to the head of the Barranco de San Juan, along here I managed to get some not great but better than I had shots of a Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania) but again it was very wind so none of the butterflies were staying still for long. On the walk out there were several Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), a fine male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). Wild flowers were also seen, several quite rare species were recorded including Anthyllis vulneraria (Mediterranean Kidney Vetch), Arenaria imbricata, Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell), Centranthus nevadensis, Dianthus subacaulis ssp brachyanthus, Erigeron frigidus, Eryngium glaciale, Hormathophylla spinosa, Leucanthemopsis pectinata, Linaria aeruginea ssp nevadensis, Pterocephalus spathulatus, Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii (Nevada House Leek) and Thymus serpylloides.
I then started to drop back down the hill but first of all I made a stop just to the West of the resort where a very rare plant called Odontites granatensis grows in a wire off area to keep the goats and sheep out. Just along the wire on the one edge a few nice plants have survived out side the fence which gave me the chance to get some shots, along with some of the very nice Ononis spinosa ssp australis. Also in this area there were several Fritillaries nectering on some Horehound type plants, there were several Niobe’s and a couple of Queen of Spain (Issoria lathonia) whilst I was taking some photos a Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe) flew past but did not settle. I continued on down the main road and made one last stop at an area which was covered in Salvia lavandulifolia which in turn was covered in Cleopatra and Black-veined White Butterflies but little else. In a damp flush near by there were several spikes of Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata). I then dropped back down into the city and picked Jayne up and went and had some lunch before heading home.
Photographs from the top: 2x Niobe Fritillaries (Argynnis niobe), Aquilegia nevadensis, Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania), Arenaria imbricata, Centranthus nevadensis, Odontites granatensis, Ononis spinosa ssp australis and Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia).