Saturday, 29 June 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

First day with Gretchen and Wendy from Utah in the US.

I headed up into Granada and met up with Gretchen and Wendy before we all headed up towards El Porche just off the main road up to the top of the hill. As soon as we stopped we could hear but did not see a singing Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) which was not a great problem as we had some good views later just up the road in the same Pine woods. We started to walk along a track out in to the woods where we quickly picked Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and in the air just down the hill we could hear at least two Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea) singing their distinctive tune. In the more open areas we found our first butterflies which included Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). Wild Flowers were going past their best but we did see Polygala boissieri, Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi), Salvia lavandulifolia subsp vellerea and Red Phlomis (Phlomis purpurea). We moved on down through the pines and walked back towards the car on the way we had good views of Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) all of which were Lifes for both Gretchen and Wendy. Once we were on the road again we turned away from the car and walked back down to the junction with the main road where we saw the beautiful Spanish Rusty Foxglove (Digitalis obscura) growing out of the rocky sides of the road. From here we could still hear the Woodlarks but again we could not see either of them, along with these we heard but did not see Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra). We turned around and walked back up the road where we picked up a Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), a Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and once we were up passed the car we heard a calling Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and on our third attempt we found a Woodlark sat in the top of a Pine Tree singing. Further up the hill we found a Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and during the walk back down the hil towards the car we saw several immature Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and in the air a fine pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which gave really good views right over head. We also saw several more butterflies which was the main thing Wendy had come for, they included Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
From here we drove up to the car parks near the barrier at 2500meters, on the way we stopped near on of the disused ski lifts and picked up Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). We parked near the carpark and walked out towards the large green military building, here we soon had good views of a nice male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), several Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and a couple of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). We walked up passed the building and started out on the track towards the Barranco de San Juan but our way was blocked by a large slab of lying snow, in the area we saw a few flowers starting to bloom as the snow was melting, these included Galium pyrenaicum, Cliffhanger (Chaenorhinum villosum), Mucizonia hispida, Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula), Pterocephalus spathulatus, Putoria calabrica along with a couple of Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica). We decided that crossing the snow was not a good idea so we made our way back along the track towards the car, on the way we had good views of a displaying Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), both Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus) and Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) were seen along with the none flowering succulent leaves of the Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii). Once back at the car we dropped down through the town to a spot at the start of one of the tracks out onto the slopes, we walked out along here for a while looking for both Birds and Butterflies. Birds included Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and the butterflies were Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus hypochionus), a single Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) a species only found here, Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Satyrium spini) and Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe). We again returned back to the car and started to drop down, we turned off and took the old road down the rest of the way through Guejar-sierra but on the way we called and got a baguette for our lunch. A little later we stopped on the roads side and had our food sat under some nearby Pine trees, whilst there we saw several more species including Cardinal Fritillary (argynnis Pandora), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines), Berberis hispanica, Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Pine-cone Knapweed (Leuzea Conifera), Salvia lavandulifolia subsp vellerea, Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum) and as we were so far from water we were surprised to see a male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) and a female / teneral Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) both of which passed by quickly. We moved on from here and made a few more stops on the way down, near the river we picked up several more butterflies and birds including Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri), Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae), Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Crag Martin, Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) heard only, Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes) a quick flyby and only seen by me and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). Wild flowers included Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Curry Plant (Helecrisum stoechaes), Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Pistorinia brevifolia and Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa). From here we headed back down to the city where I made arrangements to meet Gretchen tomorrow for more of a birding day.
Photographs from the top: Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula), Gretchen and Wendy in one of the wooded lanes on the lower slopes, Galium pyrenaicumPterocephalus spathulatus and Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri).

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