Monday, 3 June 2013

Sierra Huétor, Granada Province.

Butterflies in the lower Sierra's.
(Pam and John, Day Two).

The three of us set off towards and then passed Granada on the A92 heading for the beautiful Sierra Huétor. We came off the motorway just at a junction signed Los Mimbres and parked nearby before strolling off into the pine woods that surround the site, here we were looking for Orchids and Butterflies. Almost as soon as we started off we found the first of a great many over with spikes of Dense-flowered Orchid (Neotinea maculata), a couple of Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea) still in good condition and several large spikes of Barton's Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis) which again were still in a reasonable state. In the trees above us we could hear and see Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla). We walked further into the woods but failed to find any of the Orchis Cazorlensis plants I had seen here with friend Juan Perez a couple of years earlier, we did however see our first butterflies of the morning which included Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus) and Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina). We continued searching the area for a while but in the end decided to head back towards the car, just as we got back to the road we stumbled up on our target Orchid way out of the area where we had seen them before. We found just a single spike of this beautiful plant growing in a bear area covered in pine needles. Once we were back on the track we saw another Spanish Festoon which was quickly followed by a very nice Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) and Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice). along the verges here there were also lots of wild flowers including Bellardia trixago, Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Large Blue Flax (Linum narbonense), Linum campanulatum, White Flax (Linum suffruticosum), Pale Flax (Linum bienne), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus), Yellow Phlomis (Phlomis lychnitis) and Rosy garlic (Allium roseum). From here we jumped back on to the A92 and continued on for a short distance before exiting and coming back on our selves to a spot called Venta del Molinillo where we parked and walked along the Prado Negro, right at the entrance we spent some time scanning the Poplar trees and rocks. In the trees we could see and hear Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus). Up on the rocks we soon had Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), plus in the air there were good numbers of both Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). We followed the river where we could but unlike last year when I visited Dragnflies were few and far between and we only managed to see a single male Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) during the whole walk. Butterflies on the other hand were very numerous, they included Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis), Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera). From here we drove further into the Sierra and paid a visit to one of the recreation areas where there is a nice woodland walk from the back of the car park, we saw less butterflies here that expected but we did added Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli) and Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia). In a damp flush and under the pine trees we found quite a few spikes of Lange's Orchids (Orchis langei), Narrow-leaved Cistis (Cistis monspliensis), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum) and Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum). From here we drove through the park hoping to get something to eat at the venta in the woods near the aboritum but when we arrived we found to be closed so we ended up dropping down into the town below where we got a very nice meal before retracing our way back up into the hills again. We stopped on the roadside half way back up after seeing a fine male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) sitting on a sign post. here we checked out the butterflies and soon had Western Dappled White (Euchloe crameri), Oriental Meadow Brown (Hyponephele lupinnus) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba). From here we moved back to the area around the Venta where we walked a couple of the woodland trails, birds included Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto). On the walk we also added some new butterfly species to the day list including Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). Our last stop before heading back to the house was on the track again near the disused quarry, here we added Grayling (Hipparchia semele), a single Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius) and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum).
Back at the house we had nice views of a flock ofAzure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) whilst we sat up on the terrace sorting out the notes.

Photgraphs from the top: Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Orchis Cazorlensis, a view of Sierra de Huétor, Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Pale Flax (Linum bienne), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes) and Pam and John.

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