Friday 6 July 2012

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Back up the hill again.

Aquilegia nevadensis.
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. 
Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania).
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. 
Centranthus nevadensis.
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. 
Arenaria imbricata.
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). 
Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe).
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 / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), 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 Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides 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 Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and Verbascum nevadense.
Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe).
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).
Odontites granatensis.
Wild flowers were also seen, several quite rare species were recorded including Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Arenaria imbricata, Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), Centranthus nevadensis, Dianthus subacaulis ssp brachyanthus, Erigeron frigidus, Eryngium glaciale, Hormathophylla spinosa, Leucanthemopsis pectinata, Linaria aeruginea ssp nevadensis, Pterocephalus spathulatus, Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii) and Thymus serpylloides.
Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia).
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
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.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Laguna Chica, Malaga Province.

The Dragon's just keep coming!!!

Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum).
As with last Thursday I dropped Jayne off at her craft group in Trabuco and headed out to Laguna Chica, where last week I had seen some good Birds, Butterflies and Dragon’s. The Birds were quite different as there were very few to be seen except for a few Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra), half a dozen Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), a single pair of Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and a dozen or so Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) the water was very quiet. It is possible that all the stuff I had seen on my last visit had moved up to Laguna Grande just up the hill. The main reason I had come back though was to look for dragonflies and I certainly was not disappointed with the numbers of these. 
Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra).
I parked under a large oak tree and walked down a Cistus covered slope to the edge of the reed beds, on the way I pushed a couple of Blue / Common Emperors (Anax imperator), a single Lesser (Anax parthenope) and another species which zipped away so quickly that for the moment it remained a mystery but I knew it was a species that I had not seen before. I reached the reed edge and found a small track through to the waters edge and on to the drying margins, out on the water lots of Broad Scarlet’s (Crocothemis erythraea) chased around, along with several Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum) and a few Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma). On the reed stems and dead water plants along the shore line lots of Damsels were seen including Common Blue (Enallagma cyathinerum), Dainty (Coenagrion scitulum) and Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum). Along here I also saw several Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and a couple of Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos). 
Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra).
In the air over the pool there were Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
On the landward side of the reeds I then started to walk west along the many tracks, the first new species for the day were several female / teneral Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii), next came a female Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria) one of around 10 seen and then another fleeting glimpse of a small blue Dragon which again did not hang around long enough for me to identify it. Further along the track I went out onto another area of dry shore line this time there were large tussocks of Rushes which gave the Dragonflies something to perch on just at camera level, straight away I came across a small short bodied Dragon which this time sat quite nicely for some shot and due to the paleness of the pterostigma and the broad hind wings I suspected that it was a Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra). 
Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto).
In the same area there were lots of young Ocellated Lizards (Lacerta lepida), a few Large Psammodromus (Emys orbicularis) and loads of Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi). Butterflies were also seen here in quite large numbers, most were Lang's Short-tailed Blues (Leptotes pirithous) which were seen on the muddy margins by the dozen, along with these came several Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba). I then moved on around to the thistle patches on the western shore looking for more butterflies but not before finding a second Black Pennant on the way. 
Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus).
In the thistles there were a few Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Iberian Scarce Swallowtail and Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea). I then started a slow walk back along the shore and the first insect seen and photographed was a stunning very fresh Black-tailed Skimmer which took some pinning down but eventually it settled and let me get some nice shots. On the way several more Long Skimmers were seen along with more Red-veined Darters, Dainty Damsels and the only new species which was Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii). I reached the point where the track went back up to the car and stumbled across a nice conditioned male Black Pennant which sat very well whilst I got some reasonable shots. 
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).
I then checked the time and was amazed to find the 5 hours that I had before I needed to pick Jayne up were all but gone so I started the walk back up the hill to the car, on the way adding Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) to the bird list.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province, Spain.

47 Butterfly species in a day and still counting.

Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe).
I was meeting Steve Powell and his wife Elena at the Service area just after the end of the Sierra Nevada Motorway, whilst I was waiting (I was very early as usual) I picked up a few bits along the Rio Genil. 
Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus).
In the near by willows a large family of Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) were feeding and flashing around between the low bushed near the road bridge and in the vegetation several Cetti’s Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) were heard and one individual sat out on a bare branch for 20 minutes preening after what must have been quite a bath! 
Small Whites (Artogeia rapae).
A dark phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) drifted along the ridge opposite and both Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) flew along the shingle shore line and an immature Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) skulked in the dense cover.
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus).
Steve and Elena arrived and after Steve had filled up and I put all my stuff in his vehicle we set off heading through Pinos Genil before stopping at Embalse de Canales. 
We picked up Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) on the crags, a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which flew down the valley towards the city and several Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). Elena also had a Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) back near the car park where we also heard and saw Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius). 
Comma (Polygomum c-album).
We carried on upwards passing Guéjar-sierra before stopping near a bar above the Rio Genil, we walked down a track to the river and stood on the bridge and immediately started to see some bird species. 
These included a juvenile Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla). 
Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis).
On the track we had the first butterflies of the day which were Marsh (Euphydryas aurinia beckeri) and Queen of Spain Fritillaries (Issoria lathonia), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Spanish (Pyronia bathsheba) and Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli).
Along the track we also had a singing Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), flight views of a male Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes), heard a calling Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) and had a couple of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) do a fly past. 
Steve by the River.
We then walked back down to the bridge and saw a Pincertail Dragonfly whizz under the bridge and away remaining unidentified, picked up Common Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica) and very nice Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus) which also flew up and down the river a couple of times before disappearing. 
Steve go shots of a very confiding Grayling (Hipparchia semele) before we walked back towards the car and having heard the Orphean again on passed to an area of dry but open grassland. 
Here there were lots more Iberian Marbled Whites, Small Skippers but there were also a couple of new species, a single Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia) which sat for a second or two on a small white Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) flower before doing a bunk and there were also several Knapweed Fritillaries (Melitaea phoebe) feeding on some large thistles.
Epipactis fageticola.
Our second stop was just a couple of KM up the road and as soon as we parked we started to see more Marsh Fritillaries and down by the river (which was at a higher level water wise than on my last visit) there were plenty more. 
I had my sandals on but Steve had proper shoes on but this did not stop him getting to see the species that were coming down for the minerals a little way down stream as he just waded straight in. 
Here we added lots of Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus), loads more Small Whites and Small Sippers, Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Comma (Polygomum c-album), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Spanish Chalk-hill Blue (Lysandra albicans), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), and a species which at the time had use baffled but from photo’s I have put down to being the first Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis) of the day.
Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris).
We then headed back to the car and headed further up the hill before stopping in the Sweet Chestnut woods at a spot I had called at about 3 weeks earlier with great success, what a contrast there was with hardly a butterfly to be seen. 
Nevada Heath Fritillary (Melitaea nevadensis).
We did hear Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla). 
On we went to our next stop which was going to be a brief look at a rare Orchid called Epipactis fageticola, we found just 10 plants before having a short walk down the road back the way we had just driven as there seemed to be quite a few interesting looking things flying around. 
The first good find was a male Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris) which eventually sat nicely for some shots; we also saw a single Passenger Moth (Dysgonia algira), Cardinal Fritillary (Argynnis Pandora), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and again more Marsh Fritillaries.
Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus hypochionus).
Again we continued up the road and stopped to look at another couple of Orchids, this time they were both a bit past their best, the first was Small-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis microphylla) which was growing right on the roadside and the second was Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata) found in a wet flush. 
The only new species added here was Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi) but Elena picked up a very nice pale phase Booted Eagle that drifted around over us for a while. 
Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus subsp golgus).
As we were driving up to the last stop before lunch we did an emergency stop for a couple of Great Banded Graylings (Kanetisa circe) which were chasing each other around a Sweet Chestnut tree. Our last stop was at an area of open grassland which was packed full of herbs which made the air smell fantastic as we walked through the area, butterflies included Blue Spotted (Mancha azul / Satyrium spini) and False Ilex Hairstreaks (Querquera / Satyrium esculi), Clouded Yellow and Meadow Brown.
Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis).
Our next stop was lunch (thanks Steve and Elena) before we headed off up to the Ski resort, we parked by one of the hotels and walked out on to the green slopes. 
At the very first damp flush we picked up new species including a new one for my Spanish list the Dark-green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) several of this species were seen along side Southern Heath Fritillary (Melitaea Celadussa), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus hypochionus) and a single Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus subsp golgus) which I sorted later from the hundreds of shots taken. 
We then walked further along the track and a fast flying Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) was the next species added followed quickly by a Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea). As we rounded the first corner we noticed a patch of Thyme about 2 foot square which was covered in butterflies including several more Apollo’sPurple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius), several more Mountain Argus and masses of Silver-studded Blues but the prize find was a cracking Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe) which was my second butterfly lifer of the day and who knows how many it was for Steve. 
We continued on along this track checking several wet flushes of the way but we did not pick up any new butterfly species but saw several nice conditioned spikes of Robust Marsh Orchid
Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea) SP.
We walked back to the car and drove up to the top car park and had a walk out along the start of the trail out to the Barranco de San Juan, on the way out we saw a couple of Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae), several more Silver-studded Blues and a couple of Iberian Marbled Whites
Birds included a very nice Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and several high level House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). 
Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe).
On the way back we picked up a couple of the days last target species the Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania) but as usual this species is a toad to get shots of and today was no different. We then walked back to the car and drove down the hill where Steve and Elena dropped me back at my car and I made my way home.
Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) SP.
I thought that Pam and John Field and I had done well getting 33 species in a day a couple of weeks earlier but we certainly shot that total to bits today finishing on 47 with a few blues still to be checked. Thanks Steve for one hell of a day.