Thursday 28 June 2012

Laguna Grande, Laguna Chica and Salina's, Malaga Province.

Yet another new Damselfly.

Purple Hairstreak (Quercusia Quercus).

I dropped Jayne off in Trabuco at her Craft Group and instead of heading over to Arroyo Marin as I usually do I made my way across country to the track along side the motorway which leads up to Laguna Grande and Laguna Chic both of which I had expected to be quite dry. So when I arrived at the former I was very pleased to see it had quite a good depth of water and held quite a decent number of birds. The commonest species by far were Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) with 50+ being seen, Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) around 20 birds and 15 + Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). There were a couple of pairs of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), a single Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and 5 Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) all on the margins along with several Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). 
Carline Skipper (Pyrgus carlinae).
Over head Good numbers of Swifts were feeding quite low down over the water including Alpine (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), these were joined by House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). I then found a single female Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) on the near shore and a Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) which started off on the far shore but eventually moved around and came close in near the Pochard. The Red-knobbed Coot is a species that used to be seen quite regularly at this site but this is the first time I have seen them for around three years. 
Small Spreadwing (Lestes virens).
In amongst the dead branches that remain clear of the water along the margins there were several White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), a single Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and several European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) all perched preening. Several species of Dragonfly were also present including hordes of Broad Scarlet’s (Crocothemis erythraea), Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and Violet Dropwings (Trithemis annulata). Other birds seen included Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Bonelli’s (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Subalpine (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans), Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Orphean Warblers (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus). During my walk around the Laguna I also saw several butterfly species including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), False Ilex Hairstreak (Querquera / Satyrium esculi) and Purple Hairstreak (Quercusia Quercus).
Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum).
I then walked across to Laguna Chica and was even more surprised to find that this pool was pretty much full and held three more surprising birds, the first was my second Red-knobbed Coot of the visit, the second were a pair of Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and the third was a fine male White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) which was chasing Eurasian Coots and any of the Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) off that came to close to its patch of Tamarisk. In the marginal thistle beds I saw several more species of butterfly including a new species for my list which was a very nice Carline Skipper (Pyrgus carlinae), also there were Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli). On the edge of the reeds a little further around the pool I had a couple of Small Spreadwings (Lestes virens), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) and a few Dainty Damselflies (Coenagrion scitulum) which were new to my Dragonfly list. 
Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum).
From here I dropped back across some fields to the motorway service road and walked back to the car, on the way I saw Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) to boost the Butterfly list and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) for the birds.
Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto).
Once back at the car I headed to a spot near Salinas to look for some more Dragon’s, here I saw loads of Broad Scarlet’s, Epaulet and Southern Skimmers (Orthetrum brunneum), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii) and Mercury Bluet (Coenagrion mercuriale). Birds included a pair of Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and a nice male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus). The only new butterfly for the day was a very well behaved Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto) which sat for shots nicely. I then headed back over to Trabuco as the afternoon heat was getting a bit much and a sandwich and a drink seemed like a good idea.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Grazalema Area, Cadiz Province, Spain.

Day two and three new Dragonflies for my Spanish List!

Grazalema Poppy (Papaver rupifragum).

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. 
Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
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. 
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
On the way we saw lots of Iberian Marbled Whites (Melanargia lachesis), along with Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia 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). 
Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis).
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. 
Spanish Crassula (Pistorinia hispanica).
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 / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi) and Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus). 
Campanula specularioides.
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).
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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). 
Cynara baetica.
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. 
Olive Skipper (Pyrgus serratulae).
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. 
Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata).
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.
Mantis species.
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. 
Pronged Clubtail (Gomphus graslinii).
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. 
Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii).
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.
Jayne relaxing in the shade.
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.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Grazalema Area, Cadiz Province.

Day one of our Dragon chasing trip with Sue.

Common Golden Ringed (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica).
Jayne and I set off on our way over to visit our friend Sue and her son Sam for a couple of day near Grazalema over on the Cadiz / Malaga border. On the way we passed by Laguna Dulce but did not stop but even from the car we managed to pick out Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra). 
Western Spectre (Boyeria Irene).
We made good time and fairly soon we found our selves driving down the rough track to there house where we picked up the first Dragonflies of the trip, these were a couple of Common Golden Ringed (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica) chasing each other along a fast flowing ditch at the side of the track and several Copper Demoiselle’s (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) which fluttered up from the brambles near the start of the drive to their house. We parked up and spent some time chatting with Sue and catching up with what has been going on in the garden and nearby. After a while the lure of her fantastic garden could not be resisted any longer so I grabbed the bins and the camera and headed out. 
Purple Hairstreak (Quercusia Quercus).
As soon as I was out of the house the air was filled with the calls of several Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), a noisy rabble of Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and singing Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla). After a short walk I was down on the wooded banks of the river which passes along the one edge of the garden and within seconds had encountered my first of quite a few Western Spectre’s (Boyeria Irene) which was flying low hugging the darker more shaded stretches of bank amongst the large rocks. I watched this insect of almost an hour and not once in that time did it touch down once to give me a chance of a shot. 
Female Large Pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus).
Whilst sat on the rock watching this cracking Dragon I also saw several of the larger faster moving Common Golden Rings, masses of Copper Demoiselle’s and a couple of Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) before I waded further down stream to the next pool. Here I got the first new species for the trip when what looked like an all dark dragonfly came up the river and spent a minute or so skimming around me at knee level, I soon realized that this was one of the rare Orange-spotted Emeralds (Oxygastra curtisii) Sue had been seeing. It did not land and that was to be my only encounter with this beautiful chap. 
Sue at Steve's bridge.
Continuing on down stream I came across several more Spectre’s one of which stayed perched long enough for a couple of shots but it was in a very dark spot so they are not great, a very well behaved Purple Hairstreak (Quercusia Quercus) which allowed me to get some nice shots, several more Common Golden Rings and the first of the many Small Pincertails (Onychogomphus forcipatus). Birds were constantly moving through the dense cover along the banks, a family party of Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) flew up from the water flashing their Rufous tails as they went, Blackcaps seemed to be every where and a cracking adult Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) nearly gave me a new parting (well it would have if I had any hair), it came in so low over my head I felt a draft. 
Me at Steve's bridge.
I then came up out of the river and had a walk back down the drive way where I got views and some nice shots of a female Large Pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus). In the garden butterflies were every where and included Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), False Ilex Hairstreak (Querquera / Satyrium esculi), Holly (Celastrina argiolus), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Lang's Short-tailed (Leptotes pirithous) and Long-tailed Blues (Lampides boeticus), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). 
Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum).
As I walked back up towards the house a party of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) flew over nosily, a calling Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) made its way up one of the large Walnut trees and a couple of screeching Jays (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) burst up from the bushes next to the track. Once back at the house we had some lunch and then later Sue and I headed down to the world famous STEVE’S BRIDGE looking for more dragonfly species whilst Jayne relaxed for a while back at the house with a book. 
Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus).
As soon as we were on the river we picked up several Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi) males, females and teneral insects all in the same area but as usual with this species they are very flighty and difficult to get shots of. A little further up stream we came across several Southern Skimmers (Orthetrum brunneum), a couple of Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and several White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) along with many more of both Large and Small Pincertails
Steropleurus andalusius.
We turned around and headed off down stream, the first thing of interest was a newly emerged female Large Pincertail which sat in an Oleander drying its wings which allowed us to get some nice shots, next came the a Bush Cricket called Steropleurus andalusius, followed by several females and a single male of the colourful Wasp Spider (Arana Tigre / Argiope bruennichi) and all along the river we flushed Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) which splashed into the water at regular intervals. Sue and I then made our way back to the house picked up Jayne and went up into Grazalema to collect Sam and to have a chat with Clive at the visitor’s centre on the main car park in the town. We had a look through the locally made crafts and bought a couple of bees wax candles which we found out were made by Sue. It is a cracking centre with lots of useful books and is a place full of information about the local area and is a must visit place when your in the town. 
Whilst there we saw Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and had brief views of a Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe) as I shot through the car park.
Large Pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus).
We later headed back down to the house where I was taken out for a walk around the garden by the renowned wildlife guide and Photographer Sam. We spent an hour or so working our way along the drive, out onto the track and along the smaller stream before returning through the garden. On our way around we had some brilliant views of Western Spectre, Golden Ring and Copper Demoiselle. In the garden there were Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica).
Wasp Spider (Arana Tigre / Argiope bruennichi).
We got back to the house and had our evening meal, a little later I popped back out onto the stream and just sat on a large boulder and spent 40 minutes watching a beautiful Western Spectre cruising up and down its territory. Also seen were lots of Pond Skaters which ranged in size from tiny ones about the same size as my little finger nail up to ones that were the size of a big serving spoon and looked as though if the got coordinated they could pull you under. We spent the rest of the evening entertaining Sam and chatting to Sue. A brilliant day.