Friday, 8 March 2013

Alhambra Hills and Dupont's Lark site, Granada Province.

A good mixed day with a bit of everything.

I headed up to Granada city, passing through the fields on the way and was very pleased to find that the wintering Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) was still about and was sat in its usual tree. On the way through I also saw Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus). I continued to Granada via the log shop to confirm it was open later as we need a few to keep us going and then continued on up passed the Alhambra car park and out into the campo above the site. I parked the car and started out along one of the tracks to an area of land which was burnt off a few years ago which cleared the scrub. This allowed the uncommon Narcissus cantabricus to flurish and this year was no different with several plants in flower. They all grow on one Northish facing slope and it looked truly superb. On the way out and back I also saw good numbers of Wall Browns (Lasiommata megera), Bath (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Along the path side I also heard several scuttling sounds amongst the shrubs, most of which were Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) but at least one was a small Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) which moved away at an incredible speed. Birds were few and far between but there were several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Dartford (Curruca Rabilargo / Sylvia undata) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Green Woodpecker (Pito Real /Picus viridis).All the way along the walk there were Hummingbird Hawkmoths (Macroglossum stellatarum) whizzing passed and searching along the banks of Field marigolds (Calendula arvensis). Once back at the car I drove further up the hill and then turned right on the tarmac road and then I parked. From here I immediatly started to hear the distinctive call of the newly arrived Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which were making the local Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica) lives difficult. Also around here there were quite a few spikes of Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera) growing under the pines, in the same area there were also Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus). I then moved back down the hill picking up Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and several spikes of Ophrys forestieri. After driving back back down the hill I went back to the wood yard again where I filled the boot and headed off to Juan Perez's. From here Juan, Beatriz and I went out birding in their very smart new to them Land rover freelander, which made going up the track to the Dupont's Lark site a lot easier. We arrived and walked around this moorland type place listening for Lark species, straight away we had Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) on the list, along with Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). After some time we got back to the car and took another track off to a small pool which Juan knew about and a rocky gorge a little further on. On the way we picked up a cracking male Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) which was a year tick for us all and in the small pool we found a couple of Natterjack Toads (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) latter we heard several toads calling, I was surprised how far the call carried. We had a little further on down into a gorge where Juan had seen Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) but we dipped on this visit but did add Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). We got back to the car just as it was starting to get cool but just before we got there we had another Natterjack Toad but this time it saw hopping across the track infront of us which gave me the chance to get some shot. We then headed back down to the city and then I went off home getting back at about 21:00.
Photographs from the top: 4x Narcissus cantabricus, Catterpillar, Ophrys forestieri and Natterjack Toads (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita).

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