Friday, 26 July 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

A bucket load of new species for Sue.

Jayne, Sue, Sam and I set off up the Sierra Nevada for a days birding, botany and butterfly hunting, our first stop was along a small road side flush where we were looking for plants, we started the list with Myosotis decumbens subsp teresiana, Nevada Mullien (Verbascum nevadense), Prunella vulgaris, also amongst the plants we found dozens of the beautiful spider Aculepeira armida and butterflies seen included Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus).
We next stopped on the road side above the ski resort where we had some very nice clumps of the endemic subsp Digitalis purpurea subps nevadensis, the low growing Omalotheca supina var pusilla and plenty of over with Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis).
We then continued on up to the carpark near the barrier at around 2500 meters on the way up we started the bird list with Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). Once there we started off by watch a JCB digging a ditch which impressed Sam no end before starting a walk out along one of the nearby trails, straight away butterflies were being added to the species list, the first two were Apollo (Parnassius apollo
subsp nevadensis) and Cardinal Fritillary (argynnis Pandora) both of which were feeding on some Jurinea humilis. We continued on and soon found lots more plants including Arenaria imbricata, Chickweed (Cerastium boissieri), Biscutella glacialis, Dianthus subacaulis subsp brachyanthus, Ptilotrichum spinosum, Eryngium bourgatii and Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii). We moved on along the track and we found a small area of snow remaining just below the track and Sam wanted some snowballs so I carefully shuffled my way down the slope and got him three, one for him to throw at each of us!!! Further on still we saw several more species of butterfly including Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Iberian Marbled White (Medioluto Ibérica / Melanargia lachesis), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus hypochionus), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea). The Plant list grew again with several new species including Astragalus sempervirens subsp nevadensis, Lotus corniculatus subsp. glacialis, Leontodon boryi, Digitalis purpurea subps nevadensis, Anarrhinum laxiflorum, Sideritis glacialis and a good many others. Birds seen along the far end of this track included Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) which was mobbing a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax). On the walk back to the car we added Galium nevadensis and Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula / Violeta de Sierra Nevada), Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata).
From here we dropped down to a nice spot in some pine woodland where we had a picnic sat on a large rock. Whilst here we had a flyby Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe) and down on a patch of thyme there were several Sage Skippers (Muschampia proto), a Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) and Small White (Artogeia rapae). After the picnic we went back into the town and parked near one of the closed hotels and had a walk out along another one of the many tracks and straight away we found a new orchid for Sue's list in the shape of a spike of Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata) we
later found several more spikes not yet in flower. In the same area we also had views of a Forester Moth species which remains unnamed at the moment, several blue butterflies including loads of Silver-studded, Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera) and possibly a quick view of Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis), in the same area we also saw our first Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe), Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). Further along the same track we saw our first Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius) which was feeding on a small patch of Thyme along with a Niobe Fritillary, Silver-studded Blue and an Apollo. A little higher up we saw a single male Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus subsp golgus), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) and Meadow Fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides). Plants included the rare and beautiful Aquilegia nevadensis and Black Sedge (Carex nigra / Carex negro). Birds included Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes).
After Sam had seen the Cable Car he wanted to have a ride so we went down into the town and Sue and Sam went for a trip up to the upper station whiles Jayne and I had a walk around the area. In the flower beds I found a couple plants including Chenopodium foliosum, Sedum alba and Sedum Acre. When Sue and Sam came back down we found a bouncy castle in the town and Sam had a good finish to his busy day.
Our last stop was on the way down at a largish wet flush to look at some more Robust Marsh Orchids which were quite different in structure with the spike being tight and flat topped. In this area we saw a lot more Aculepeira armida and several more plants including Santolina rosmarinifolia subsp canescens, more Myosotis decumbens subsp teresiana, Veronica anagallis-aquatica and Erigeron frigidus.
From here we headed back down the hill and home by which time Sam was fast a sleep in the back of the car.
Photographs from the top: Aculepeira armida, Digitalis purpurea subps nevadensis, Eryngium bourgatii, Jayne, Forester Moth Species, Sue photographing the Marsh Orchids, Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus
 subsp golgus), Aculepeira armida on the Marsh Orchids and Sam at the end of a busy day.


Anonymous said...

een heerlijke serie weer en ach hij had zijn rust wel verdiend.

NickMorgan said...

Great to hear that you saw so many species of butterflies in the Sierra Nevada. I am hoping to visit one day in July when we will be on holiday west of Malaga. I hope I am as successful as you were. There are so many unusual species there. I am still trying to find out where the best area to visit will be.