Friday 30 March 2012

Iznajar Dam, Malaga Province.

Wildlife Walk No 2. 
Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata).

Today another 15 of us set out for the second of the walks at Iznajar Dam, this time we started by going out over the dam first looking at the wildflowers growing in the cracks in the road (hope they don't go to deep). Wildflowers along here included Cliffhanger (Chaenorhinum villosum), Cut-leaved Valerian (Centranthus calcitrapae), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), White Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Hispanicum), Small Melilot (Melilotus indica), Star Clover (Trifolium stellatum), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Purple Vipers Bugloss (Echium lycopsis), Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba ancistroides), Sticky Catchfly (Silene nicaeensis) and Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris). 
Grey-leaved Cistis (Cistis albidus).
Birds were being seen all the way across, first were a pair of Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) out on the Embalse, House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) which were nesting in large numbers under the overhang of the dam wall, Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) which flapped over slowly. 
On the crags at the far end just before the tunnel we added a nice male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a trio of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), a pair of Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) which was heard singing. 
Photographing the Orchids.
We then went out on to the cliff walk and down to the view point over looking the river, here we saw Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonero Común / Parus major), a singing male Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) which we all had nice views of through the scope, Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and a pair of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) which flew in to a hole in the dam wall. 
We also added Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Rock Phagnalon (Phagnalon saxatile) and Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa). 
Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria hispanica).
We then made the walk back towards and past the cars and started off down the road to Cuevas de San Marcos where we quickly located the Italian Man (Orchis italica) and Sawfly Orchids (Ophrys tenthredinifera) we saw on Tuesday, the Man Orchids had come on and were perfect but the Sawfly had gone past its best. 
On the walk down to the junction we added Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata), Nonea vesicaria, Warty Spurge (Euphorbia squamigera), Field Madder (Sherardia arvensis), 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). 
The birds included Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) heard only, Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), a nice male Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki). 
Narcissus baeticus.
At the junction we turned right and headed off down the road towards the dam where we saw more Giant Orchids and then one of the ladies spotted a single spike of Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca) which was good as it meant the group did not need to scale the steeper banks that we did on Tuesdays walk, I then found a couple of spikes of Ophrys subfusca and then a single spike of Mirror Orchid (Ophrys speculum) was found right on the road side. 
Other plants include Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria hispanica), Narcissus baeticus, White Mignonette (Reseda Alba), Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Dwarf Red Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae), Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Doves-foot Cranesbill (Geranium Molle) and Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia). 
Female Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes).
We turned around and headed back up to the junction were we had a look at the rarest of today’s Orchids the Bumble-bee Orchid (Ophrys bombyliflora) which had come on well and there were half a dozen or so spikes in flower. 
We walked back towards the car park along the steep banks, on the way we had a look down at a bend in the river using the scope and picked another Grey Heron, Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
We continued on but we did not add any new species to the list but did pick up another Mirror Orchid. Butterflies included Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Large White (Pieris brassicae), a female Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Small White (Artogeia rapae), a very nice Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) which we had a look at in the scope. We arrived back at the cars some 3 hours after setting out and then made our way home.

Thanks for all those who came on the two walks and I hope that you enjoyed what we have seen.

Travelling to Iznajar Dam, Malaga Province.

A few more birds for the year list.

Sun rise through the Poplars.
I left home this morning and had a quick look down on the fields at Huétor Tajár on my way over to the Dam on Embalse de Iznajar. The sun coming up through the Poplar plantaions made for a pleasant sight and gave me hope that the forecast rain would hold off till after the walk. The only birds of interest on the fields were a flock of around 40 Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) which were spirraling down to feed on a newly flooded Lucerne field near the town and a male Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) which was sat up on the wires near the railway (first of the year). I headed over towards Iznajar and then as I had plenty of time I took the road/track along the southern side of the lake. In amongst a small piece of Oak woodland I had two more year ticks, a Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli). Both birds were singing from right at the top of a large tree, but as the road was quite high on the hillside I was level with the tree tops and this gave me nice views. Other species seen on the way included Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea).
On the return journey I picked up a single Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus) and a male Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus).

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Izanjar Dam, Malaga Province.

Wildlife Walk.

Showing the differences in two Orchids.

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. 
Ophrys subfusca.
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). 
Cliffhanger (Chaenorhinum villosum).
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 (Himantoglossum 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 Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) 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. 
Dwarf Red Valerian (Fedia cornucopiae).
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.
White Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Hispanicum).
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). 
Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
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.
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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).
Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina).
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.

Monday 26 March 2012

Near El Turro, Granada Province.

A couple of hours in the field.

Brenda and Janet.
Two friends (Brenda and Janet) from over Ronda way who were coming on the Orchid walk tomorrow arrived at ours at around 15:00 and we had a drink before heading out for a couple of hours birding on the agricultural plains near El Turro. We went in Janet’s 4X4 which made life easier as we could have a look at some of the tracks that I can not do in the Ford Fiesta. On the first track we picked up several singing Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), a pair of Thekla’s (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). Out on the normal track we stopped at the ruin of a Cortijo and searched for the Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which again eluded us. Brenda was pleased with a couple of wild flowers that were seen growing on the field margins including Red-horned Poppy (Glaucium corniculatum) and Hypecoum imberbe
Hypecoum imberbe.
We then continued out on the dirt tracks and found our way through to a patch of rough ground where we saw several spikes of Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis collina) growing amongst the broom scrub. Birds included my first Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus) of the year, a nice male, Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus). We then retraced our steps and on the ridge of one of the fields we picked up a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which was strutting his stuff of any watching ladies that happened to be nearby, it seemed to be working as both Brenda and Janet were well impressed with him. 
Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis collina).
On the way round we also recorded several butterflies including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli). A single moth was seen and after checking the shots at home I identified it as Thistle Ermine (Myelois circumvoluta cribrella). We then made our way down along the side of the Solar Panels and then had a drive along a track out into one of the almond groves where we found considerable numbers of Fan-lipped Orchids. We then heard and saw at least 5 Great Spotted Cuckoos (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which was a lifer for both Brenda and Janet, after having great views of these birds and hearing several Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) we continued a short way along this track and had views of 2 of the Curlews as they flushed from amongst the Almond trees. 
Thistle Ermine (Myelois circumvoluta cribrella).
We then started to make our way back towards our house adding Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) which we heard but it remained out of sight in the olives.