Saturday, 11 May 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

A morning on the Northern lower slopes.

I headed out of Granada City after dropping Jayne in the city to visit Ford to get the car sorted but they were only doing jobs on cars that had been booked in so I had to arrange to take it back on Monday. In the mean time I headed back through the City and out on to the old road up the Northern slopes of Sierra Nevada. I was making for the Sweet chestnut woods along the upper parts of this beautiful drive. As I was driving between Guejar-Sierra a very old Spanish chap leap out infront of me and asked for a lift to a point further on which I did not know but I said yes and he jumped in and started to give me directions, a way along the road we came across a group of horse-men who were herding around 20 large cattle along the road which made getting along the road immpossible but luckily the chap wanted to go to a bar along the road which follows the Rio Genil so we turned left and made our way there where I dropped him off and turned around and headed back to the road up the hill. On the way I tried but failed to get shots of the biggest Common Toad (Bufo bufo) I was amazed how fast the dam thing could go and it was soon in the cover of the track side vegetation. Along this track I also came across the beautiful Spanish Rusty Foxglove (Digitalis obscura), Rosy garlic (Allium roseum), Bellardia trixago and Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major). I reached the road to find the Cattle had spent ten minutes resting on a large grass area but had just started off and the road was again blocked so I turned around and headed back throught the tunnels and parked down near one of the bars and had a walk along one of the tracks down to the Rio Genil across a small bridge and up the track on the far side of the river. Along here I found several species of Butterflies including Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), both Marsh (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri) and Queen of Spain Fritillaries (Issoria lathonia) and Small White (Artogeia rapae). Birds included Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica),Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus). From here I went a few hundred meters up the road where I parked up again and checked the gravel margins for mineral collecting Butterflies, first I counted another 20 or so Panoptes Blues, several Marbled Skippers (Carcharodus lavatherae), a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina). I then jumped back into the car and followed the trail of cow pats up the hill until I caught up with the herd, at this point there was a conviniant parking slot so I left the car and walked the rest of the way up to the spot I had hoped to reach. I searched and quickly found half a dozen or so spikes of Barton's Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis), lots of Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and a few none flowering Robust Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza elata). Birds included two singing Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). I turned around and started to make my way back down towards the car, by a spot that I call the stone wall site I found a few none flowering spikes of the uncommon Epipactis fagicola in a roadside ditch. Whilst I was searching for these orchids I was aware of a shuffling in the woods above the wall and soon found this to be a very large male Wild Boar (Felis silvestris) which stood looking at me for a few seconds before trotting off into the wood. Before I reached the car I saw Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Large Psammodromus
(Psammodromus algirus) and Tufted vetch (Vicia cracca). 

Photgraphs from the top: Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata) with a Bee-fly species, Marbled Skippers (Carcharodus lavatherae), a view up to the Sierra, Water Avens (Geum rivale), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and 2x Barton's Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis).

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