Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Up amongst the raptor's and endemic Wildflowers.

I dropped Jayne off for a few hours of retail therapy while I made my way up to the car park near the barrier at 2500 meters. On the way up there were swathes of Santolina rosmarinifolia subsp. canescens on the roadside. I parked up and took around 5 steps then I noticed a huge bird soaring over a near by ridge, thinking it was going to be a Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) I raised my bins to have a look and soon realized that it was in fact an immature Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture (Quebrantahuesos / Gypaetus barbatus). Anyone who knows me knows that this body is not designed for speed but I was across the open area between me and the ridge where it was circling like a flash (well quite quickly anyway) and the bird continued to soar nearby. I watched this magnificent bird for Nealy an hour at distances down to 2 meters right over head. It came in close enough that I got some bad shots of it on my little 5x zoom coolpix.
The bird drifted off after some time and disappeared down towards Granada City so I carried on along the track that I had started along and almost straight away I hit a large slab of snow which I needed to cross to get to the spot I was heading for to see the plants I wanted. Almost straight away I found flowering clumps of the beautiful endemic Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii), Eryngium bourgatii, Erigeron frigidus, Arenaria pungens, Anthyllis vulneraria subsp pseudoarundana, Silene boryi, Sideritis glacialis, Leontodon boryi and Draba hispanica subsp hispánica. I moved on along the track and made my way on to the area of borreguillies, on the way I saw the days first Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) butterflies along with several Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Grayling (Hipparchia semele) and lots of Silver-studded Blues (Plebejus argus hypochionus). Just as I reached the wet area I met a young chap from the Junta who was doing some work with the butterflies, we only had a brief chat as he was desperate to get back along the track to get some views of the Vulture which had reappeared over the distant ridge. In the same view as we looked back we also had 2 Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), a single Griffon Vulture  and two tiny specks which were mobbing the Lammergeier which turned out to be Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) once I had them in the bins. I said good luck to him before walking out into the area of wet flushes and searching for more endemic plants, the first and most obvious were hundreds of spikes of both Gentiana sierrae and Pinguicola nevadensis, next came Starry Saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris subsp robusta), Myosotis decumbens subsp teresiana, Lotus corniculatus subsp glacialis, Digitalis purpurea subps nevadensis on the drier rocky areas, Black Sedge (Carex nigra / Carex negro) and the tiny uncommon Moonwort (Lunaria menor / Botrychium lunaria) which was growing on a small ridge just out of the wetter areas. A little further down towards the bottom of the flushes I came acroos a nice patch of the Gentiana sierrae and a couple of larger blue trumpets which turned out to be a new plant for my list, they were the beautiful Alpine Gentian (Gentiana alpina). Just up above this spot I came across several spikes of St Bernard's Lily (Anthericum baeticum) and down in the water there were several flowers of  Viola palustris subsp palustris, Anarrhinum laxiflorum, Alchemilla glabra and just at the start of the walk back Linaria aeruginea subsp nevadensis. I then walked back along the same track towards the car adding a family party of  Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) to the day list along with Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris).
Once I reached the car I dropped down through the resort and parked up again. From here I started to walk out on one of the many tracks out on to the slopes along side the Ski Resort, as soon as I got on to the track I started to pick up new butterfly species for the day, the first was a very nice Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea) but unlike last year when I saw a couple of hundred of this species during this walk this and three or four others were my lot, however there were good numbers of the endemic Apollo along here again, dozens of the beautiful Silver-studded Blues, Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cardinal Fritillary (argynnis Pandora), Iberian Marbled White (Medioluto Ibérica / Melanargia lachesis), a single Meadow Fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides) and Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). Birds were less numerous but I did locate Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis) and a singing Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis). Several more species of wildflower were seen along the edge of the track and on the banks and streams, these included Aquilegia nevadensis, more Digitalis purpurea subps nevadensis, Nevada Mullien (Verbascum nevadense), Veronica anagallis-aquatica and Lactuca tenerrima.
From here I started to make my way down the hill back towards Granada to pick up Jayne but noticed a group Dactylorhiza type orchids in a small wet area which looked slightly odd so I stopped for a look. In the area there were several spikes of what will probably just be elata but they looked very different in structure, looking more compact, flat topped and with tightly grouped flowers and much more variable in colour ranging from pale pink through to dark purple. Also here there were lots of the spider Aculepeira armida whos webs covered most of the gapes between the clumps of Juncus.
From here I dropped down and Jayne and myself went for some lunch and then headed home.
Photographs from the top: 2x Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture (Quebrantahuesos / Gypaetus barbatus), Gentiana sierrae, Alpine Gentian (Gentiana alpina), Pinguicola nevadensis, St Bernard's Lily (Anthericum baeticum), Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii), Leontodon boryi, Apollo (Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) and Aquilegia nevadensis.

The Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture was released back in June 2012 in Sierra de Segura and is called Encina.









1 comment:

Nic van Es said...

hele mooie bloemen,maarrrrr de gier steelt toch wel de show.