A review of my wildlife year.
In general 2012 was a cracking year for new species and totals in general with one main exception to this being Orchids. After the extremely dry and cold winter the numbers of plants were down by around 90% in a lot of sites, with some species just not flowering at all. Embalse de Iznajar was a classic example, in the summer of 2011 the number of plants was so high that to reach some spots you had no choice but to walk on the odd spike of another species or two but in 2012 there were virtually no plants with just a handful of the common species showing up and most of the rarer plants not bothering to flower at all !! Even with Juan Pérez Contrera's help I failed to see any new species but did add a couple of Hybrids to my list including a couple of spikes of Ophrys Tenthredinifera X O. Picta, one down near Mijas which was nice but even better was a spike found on the Andalucian Bird Society meeting at Sierra de Loja in Granada Province. Two more Orchid highlights for the year were seeing the very rare Ophrys Atlantica (Atlas Orchid) and Spiranthes Spiralis (Autumn Ladies Tresses) in Granada Province for the first time.
The birds were right at the other end of the scale as I saw more species in 2012 than in any other year since arriving in Spain, reaching 251 by the end of December. New species seen during the year included Baillon's (Pollueta chica / Porzana pusilla) and Little Crakes (Polluela bastarda / porzana parva) both seen at Charca del Suarez during the spring Northward migration, Rufous Bush Robin (Alzacola / Cerotrichas galactotes) and Desert Wheatear (Collalba Desértica / Oenanthe deserti) a fine adult male and Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) both seen down at Cabo de Gata. Dotterel was added to my Granada Province list later in the year, other new Granada Province species included Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), Common Scoter (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra), Iberian Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Ibérico / Phylloscopus ibericus), Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana), Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) and a cracking immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial / Aguila adalberti).
Butterflies were also seen in good numbers and by the end of the season I had identified over 90 species in 2012. July and August were by far the best and the Sierra Nevada was the place to see them, on a visit I made with Steve Powell and his wife Elana we had 50 species in a single day. Some of the new species we saw were Niobe (Argynnis niobe), Dark-green (Ardynnis aglaja) and Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia), Escher's Blue (Agrodiaetus escheri) and Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis). Other species which were new were Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe) and Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris) both of which were seen up in Andujar area whilst searching for the Pardel Lynx (Lynx pardina). Other interesting species seen included Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus ssp golgus), Spanish Brassey Ringlet (Erebia hisania), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Lorquin's Blue (Cupido lorquinii) and Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea).
Dragon and Damselflies also featured highly during the year with several new species being found, some of these records being new species for the sites and the Provinces which is less surprising than it sounds as the coverage in this part of Andalucia has been quite thin. One of the better finds was a small number of Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) dragonflies which were found at Laguna Chica on the Granada / Malaga borders. Also found at the same site were good numbers of Dainty Damselflies (Coenagrion scitulum) and Long Skimmers (Orthetrum trinacria) the latter was a new species for both Sue Eatock from Grazalema and Steve Jones over from Cornwall. I visited Sue over in Grazalema at the end of June where I added several more species to my Spanish list including a cracking Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) on the river in her garden. We visited several other sites where I added Pronged Clubtail (Gomphus graslinii) and Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis).
The Moth trap was also run on a regular basis and new species were added almost every night, these included Crassicornella agenjoi, Eastern Bordered Straw (Heliothis nubigera), Metopoceras felicina, Aplasta ononaria and Gnopharmia stevenaria. There is a lot more work to be done on the moths in this area, it is made harder by needing a permit to trap out side your own garden. This is difficult as the Spanish environmental authorities do not seem to want to make it easy to get one.
Mammals were as usual difficult to find, with just the regular species being seen. I only made a single trip up to Andujar area this year for the Pardel Lynx (Lynx pardina). But it was at the wrong time of the year (June) so I was not surprised when only one member of our group had views, although brief.
Amphibians are something that I do not see a lot of, so when Sue Eatock showed me a few species during our second visit of the year in November I was very pleased. We found several
Natterjack Toads (Bufo calamita), lots of young Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) and Parsley Frog (Pelodytes punctatus) which we did not see but heard during some very wet and blustery weather.
Over all I had a cracking year and look forward to 2013, not only for the species I will see but also for the fact that Granada Wildlife my new venture goes on line offering Wildlife tours here in Western Granada Province.
All the very best to all and thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings, regards Mick.