Saturday 9 June 2012

Day one. Sierra Morena, Jaen Province.

In search of Mammals and more.

Rio Guadalen.
I left home quite early for the drive up to Sierra Morena in Jaen Province where I was meeting up with the Atchison family, I had been contacted by Dan about spending a couple of days in the area looking for the Iberian Lynx. I had explained straight away that it was far from the best time of the year and that the chances were slim but he was happy to have ago. As I drove down the road at the Huétor end of the journey I started the list off with a flyby Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was perched on the top of a telegraph pole.
I arrived early in the area as I was not meeting Dan till lunch time, so I spent the morning along the near by Rio Guadalen and I was very pleased that I did as I added a new Mammal to my list, I had very nice views of an Otter (Lutra lutra) as it was feeding amongst the rocky pools near the Dam. Also seen were several Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), lots of Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and two rather large looking Iberian Hares (Lepus europaeus / capensis) and on the bird front I had some very nice close views of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) coming down to the picnic tables, Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). I also picked up a few early morning butterflies which included Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus).
Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia).
I then returned to the Hostel and the meeting point where I added 6 Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) to the list before I met the group.
The first thing we did was to go and have some lunch as it was warm and we felt that it was better to eat early and stay out in the field as late as possible. After a very nice meal we went out along one of the local roads which after a few km turns into a dirt track before it reaches the Embalse de Jandula, as we drove along we made quite a few stops.
The first was to have a look out along a large fire break which runs along the top of one of the higher ridges, we found our first Fallow Deer (Dama dama) here and quite a collection of butterflies which were coming down to the thyme plants on the road side. They included Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba).
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).
We continued on to a point amongst the Oak where we again stopped, this time we had decent views of and heard a male Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) which spent quite a while circling us through the trees. We also added Woodchat Shrike, Golden Oriole, Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Little Owl and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) to the Atchison’s list.
We also increased the butterfly count by seeing Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines) and Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia). We eventually reached the dam and fairly quickly picked up several Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus). We had a walk across the dam and through the tunnel on the far side and out into the woodland the other side.
Along the very edge of the track Matt or Dam found several well preserved prints of the animal we were looking for in the very fine mud, they were so detailed that the hairs between the pads could be seen. Along here we also saw Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). On some damaged Fennel spikes there were some Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) dragonflies, conveniently there were an adult male, adult female and a teneral insects all in a row.
We then retraced our tracks back through the tunnel and out on to the dam where we scoped a distant Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) nest on a crag on the far shore of the Embalse and had brief but good views of a couple of White-rumped Swifts (Vencejo Cafre / Apus caffer) which disappeared off down the river.
View out over the area.
We then moved back up into the sierra and made a couple of stops along the dirt track on the way back. At the first stop we found a single Mouflon (Ovis orientalis) which was hiding in a small cave away on the next ridge and also picked up a very nice Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) as it soared away towards the Embalse. We then got our only view of a Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) of the trip which just bobbed up above the ridge for about 20 seconds and then went back down out of view.
We moved on and stopped again further on, this time we had extensive views out over the surrounding countryside so we stayed for quite a while scanning the clearings and tracks. Whist we were here we did added a couple more species to the bird list including Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) with several drifting low over heard, Dartford (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and Subalpine Warblers (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis). We did not get any sighting of the Lynx but saw some cracking Birds, Butterflies and Mammals before we headed back to the accommodation and had our evening meal.

Friday 8 June 2012

Near Huétor Tajar, Granada Province, Spain.

Moth Trapping.

9454 (2384) Hoplodrina ambigua (Vine's Rustic).
Again I ran the 15 Watt Actinic trap in the garden and caught a reasonable haugle, most were the usual but a couple were new but are away (the photo's not the Moths) with Penny Hale for her to cast her expert eye over.
10015 (2206) Mythimna vitellina (The Delicate).
Other more interesting species were 3498 Mirificarma eburnella, 8211 (1716) Rhodometra sacraria (The Vestal) this was the first for a while, 9140 (2407) Eublemma ostrina (Purple Marbled) usually quite common but again the first for some time and singles of 9454 (2384) Hoplodrina ambigua (Vine's Rustic) and 10015 (2206) Mythimna vitellina (The Delicate).
7961 (1664) Aplasta ononaria (The Rest Harrow).
Penny also confirmed a couple of new species this week, they were Archips xylosteana (Variegated Golden Tortrix), Earias albovenosana and the one I had not been able to do was 7961 (1664) Aplasta ononaria (The Rest Harrow).

Thursday 7 June 2012

Malaga area, Malaga Provinve.

The Mystery Trip.

Botanical Gardens.
Well today was an unusual event as we were going on one of the very well organised and thought out trips with the Amiga’s de casa group that Jayne is a member of, but we did not know where to. We got on the coach did a couple more pick ups and then headed down the motorway towards Malaga and then turned off towards Torremolinos and then quickly off onto a very minor road and in through a narrow gate (well done to the  driver) and stopped at an out of the way restaurant for breakfast.
Botanical Gardens.
While we were here I had a quick look in the garden once I had eaten and had a coffee but only saw a couple of Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) butterflies. From here we drove a few hundred yards and went into the small but very good Botanical Gardens who’s official name is "El Molino de Inca Botanical Jardin".
One of the sadder sights at the Botanical Gardens.
Here we spent a very interesting hour and a half looking around; I was diverted away  from the plants by several Dragonfly species that were on the pools in the Japanese garden, they included Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), Epaulet  Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and both Violet (Trithemis annulata) and Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi).
Ian in the Glass and Crystal Museum.
Jayne and I continued on around the Gardens and enjoyed it very much; the only slight down side for me were the caged raptors, especially
the female Snowy Owl which just look so out of place in the heat of Spain. We then left this spot and went back onto the motorway and into Malaga city where we were dropped off for a few hours to do our own thing and get some lunch, later we all met up again and did a walk to our final visit of the day which was quite funny for me and Jayne as it was the Glass and crystal museum which is part owned but good friend and Orchid expert Ian Phillips and is a place we had been several times before.
Some of the Glass.
This was not a problem though as things are always changing at the museum and it was good to see Ian and catch up on a few things as we had not seen each other for some time.
A Court yard at the Museum.
After being given the very interesting guided tour by Ian we walked back down through the city and caught the coach back to Trabuco. As usual the trip was great and we were given just the right amount of time at each stop to do them justice, thanks for a well organised day.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Sierra de Loja and surrounding areas, Granada Province.

Up in the hills again.

Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba).
I meet Claude and Bernadette who were holidaying near by from Belgium and wanted a days wildlife watching. We started off by going up Sierra de Loja looking for mountain species, at the disused quarry above the town we started the list with a cracking male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) which was singing from the top of the mail crags. We also picked up several European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) which were passing over quite high, both Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) which were in the main quarry and good numbers of Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) which were all feeding over head.
Our next stop was near the Broom and Hawthorn scrub towards the top of the Crags track, in the grassy areas here we saw lots of butterflies including Spanish (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and Southern Gatekeepers (Pyronia cecilia), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea) and Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice). Along the tops of the crags there were good numbers of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and the much more aerobatic Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) which showed very well.
Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis).
Down below us in the scrub there were a couple of Subalpine Warblers (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) singing from the dense cover of the Hawthorns but a male Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) performed much better sitting right in the top of a Broom plant and singing for quite a long time. Other birds here included Rock Bunting, Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and both Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata). We then moved out onto the tops where we quickly had the second new bird of the day for Claude (the Spec being the first) a nice well behaved Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) which was perched on a track side rock. Up passed the marble quarry we started to see the first of the days Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) several of which were absolutely stunning males, we also added Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). A few more butterflies were recorded along the way including Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Mancha azul / Satyrium spini), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
We next stopped off at Charca del Negro and had some good views of the Rock Sparrows we had heard earlier and also saw another male Spectacled Warbler and a pair of Common Whitethroats (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis) the male had been bathing and look rather scraggy. On a small bush near by a pair of Orphean Warblers (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) showed very well along side a female Black-eared Wheatear. In the pool there were lots of tadpoles of the large Sharp-ribbed Salamander (Pleurodeles waltl) and eventually we managed to get views of an adult just hanging in the water. Over the pool the air was patrolled by at least 3 male Blue / Common Emperors (Anax imperator) which was quite unusual as they are a very territorial insect and I have found the remains of defeated males on the surface several times in the past. In the thistles there were several Knapweed Fritillary’s (Melitaea phoebe), Large Whites (Pieris brassicae) and Small Coppers (Lycaena phlaeas) seen. We then moved further on around to and passed the Goat Cave and on to the next crag where we had some nice views of both male and female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) they were both carrying food in there bills and going into a small crack in the cliff and feeding there young.
Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe).
In this area we had very brief views of our only Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) of the day, nice views of Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus).
From here we turned around and started to drop back down the sierra, on the way we had very good views of a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which soared around in front of us before landing beside the track and then again spent 5 more minutes flying around quite close. During the drive down we also saw a large green Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) and several Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
We then went and had lunch in the small bar on the main through the village of Venta del Raya before continuing down the road towards Zafarraya, we first stopped in an area of old Oak woodland hoping to see Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) which would be another new species for Claude. We walked into the area seeing several spikes of Lizard Orchids (Himantoglossum hircinum) and some washed out Pyramidals (Orquidea pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia). Before long we had a singing Bonelli’s Warbler in one of the Oaks and Claude had some nice views, as we were moving back towards the vehicle we flushed two Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) from the side of the field and had views of a singing Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea).
Other species seen here included Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla). We also had a couple of Iberian Scarce Swallowtails (Iphiclides feisthameli), Grayling (Hipparchia semele) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).
Male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis).
We then went on passed Zafarraya and out on to the fields to theEast where there were several species of Lark to be found, two Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) were lifers for Claude and these were seen along side more Crested and Thekla’s plus Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
Our last stop of the day was along the Salar road at a ruined Cortijo which was being used by good numbers of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and Rock Sparrows. In the area we also added Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) to the day’s list before heading back to the Motorway services at Loja. Thanks Claude and Bernadette for a very pleasant day.

Monday 4 June 2012

Near Huétor Tajar, Granada Province, Spain.

Moth Trapping.

7765 (1937a) Peribatodes ilicaria (Lydd Beauty).
The trap went on again for the night and due to a cooler night the moth numbers were lower but I still added five new species to the Garden list, I am fairly sure that I have caught the first two before here but they have gone unrecorded.
8062 (1690) Scopula imitaria (Small Blood-vein).
7765 (1937a) Peribatodes ilicaria (Lydd Beauty), 8062 (1690) Scopula imitaria (Small Blood-vein), 5652 (1413) Hypsopygia costalis (Gold Triangle), 0488 Reisserita chrysopterella and 5875 (1460) Apomyelois ceratoniae (Locust Bean Moth).
5652 (1413) Hypsopygia costalis (Gold Triangle).
Other uncommon moths in the trap were 4166 Dyspessa ulula, 9128 Odice arcuinna subsp pergrata and 2938 (0871a) Oegoconia caradjai.
0488 Reisserita chrysopterella.
These came with the regulars like 0661 (0234) Trichophaga tapetzella (Tapestry Moth), 1525 (0464) Plutella xylostella (Diamond backed Moth), 1655 (0720) Ethmia bipunctella, 2965 Symmoca nigromaculella, 3498 Mirificarma eburnella, 6604 (1361) Pyrausta aurata, 6690 Palpita vitrealis, 8186 (1714) Idaea degeneraria (Portland Ribbon Wave), 8509 (1825) Eupithecia centarueata (Lime-speck Pug), 8965 (2465) Tyta luctuosa (The Four-spotted), 9100 (2415) Acontia lucida (Pale Shoulder), 9425 Caradrina proxima and 10351 (2087) Agrotis segetum (Turnip Moth).
4166 Dyspessa ulula.

9128 Odice arcuinna subsp pergrata.