Friday, 16 August 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Birds, Butterflies and endemic Wildflowers including the fifth Gentian!!!!
A day with Elena and Steve Powell.

I started he day by driving up the hill to the spot where I wrongly thought that I was meeting up with friends Steve and Elena for a days Butterfly photography. I had a walk around some Hawthorn scrub at the spot near the hotel where I had parked, it was still quite early but I started the butterfly list we a Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus) which allowed me some shots as it was cool and did not want to fly. A little further along the track I had some cracking views of both Rock (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Cirl Buntings (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) sat side by side on the top of a Hawthorn bush, in the same area there were several Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), a male Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater). Slightly above the parking area on an area of rocks I recorded Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and a flock of over 50 Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) which flew high over the area in one large group.
I then started to get a little concerned that it had passed our meeting time and there was no sign of Steve and Elena and they are always early, so I went for the mobile phone to find that when I changed it recently and had copied the numbers across to the sim to put it in the new phone all the mobile numbers had been deleted. Just a few minutes late Steve rang me as he knows that I am always early as well and we discovered that there had been a misunderstanding about the meeting place and they were down at the bottom of the hill much nearer to Granada. They then jumped into there car and drove up to where I was and we started our day just 15 minutes later than planned.
From the new meeting point we made our up to the car parks near the barrier and out onto the Barranco de San Juan. Almost straight away we saw our first of a few Spanish Brassy Ringlets (Erebia hispania) seen during the day, this one avoided the camera but Steve did get some nice shots of some we saw later. we soon started to find some wild flowers along the side the track which included the endemic's Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum vicentei ssp lainzii), Eryngium bourgatii, Nevada Mullien (Verbascum nevadense) but going over, Digitalis purpurea subps. nevadensis and Galium nevadensis. The temperature had risen nicely by now and we were seeing good numbers of butterflies which included several Black Satyr (Negra / Satyrus actaea), Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus hypochionus), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), lots of Oriental Meadow Browns (Hyponephele lupinnus) and a single very tatty Apollo (Apolo / Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) which drifted off down the slope. We continued on and just before we reached the borreguillies Steve saw what I had missed as I walked along the rocky track, just down by my by my left foot was a snake which I had not notices as I was looking ahead at the nearby plants. At this point I launched my self to the right and up on to a nearby rock, the snake was a stunningly beautiful Lataste's viper (Víbora hocicuda / Vipera latastei), it did not stay for long and moved away under a nearby rock but not before we managed to get some shots.
We then moved out onto the wet area just a few yards further on and soon started to find several of the great plant species which thrive here, these included the endemic Gentiana pneumonanthe subsp depressa, the uncommon Gentiana boryi, Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris), Starry Saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris subsp robusta), Eryngium glaciale and then came the best of them all which was the very small Comastoma tenellum a very small member of the gentian family. After spending quite a while here we started to walk back towards the car, on the way Steve got some nice shots of the scabbest looking Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) I have seen up to now. We checked out and saw the snake again and picked up Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia), Iberian Marbled White (Medioluto Ibérica / Melanargia lachesis), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and a single Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Mancha Azul / Satyrium spini) on the way. Other birds during the walk were House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and back at the car a single Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
We had some lunch at the hotel near the car park and then headed down to the ski area where we took a walk out along one of the many tracks, almost straight away we were seeing good numbers of Black Satyr's, Silver-studded Blue, Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis), Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe), Meadow Fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides), Wall Brown, Oriental Meadow Browns, Silver-spotted Skipper, Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto). Birds included Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Blue Tit and Rock Bunting.
From here we dropped down the hill past the visitor centre and then down the old road, after a few KM we stopped and checked out an area of rocky grassland surrounded by Pine trees. Almost straight away we added a couple of nice species to the list, the first we the small Dusky Heath (Ninfa de Esper / Coenonympha dorus), a quick moving Great Banded Grayling (Rey Moro / Kanetisa circe) and the first of many Tree Graylings (Neohipparchia statilinus). On the opposite side of the road we picked up a few more Tree Graylings and added Striped Grayling (Pseudotergumia fidia) and then the prize find which was only sorted once Steve checked his shots a fine False Grayling (Arethusana arethusa). We dropped down further along this road but we did not see any more new species as the time was going on and the light was fading, so at this point we made our way down and the off home. Thanks Steve and Elena for a cracking day with some new species for us all.

Photographs from the top: Black Satyr (Negra / Satyrus actaea), Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma), Lataste's viper (Víbora hocicuda / Vipera latastei), Gentiana pneumonanthe subsp depressa, Comastoma tenellum and Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis).




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wat een heerlijke serie laat je weer zien wat een prachtige natuur je komt er nogal wat tegen,geweldig om daar te zijn.