Saturday 9 February 2013

Grazalema and Montejaque, Cadiz Province.

A morning of crafts and an afternoon of Narcissus.

Sue, Jayne and I had a steady start and made our way up to the Visitor Centre in Grazalema to have a go at some of the crafts being carried out. Before we left I had a quick look in the garden seeing Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus). Once we were at the centre Jayne had a go at a couple of the crafts that were being shown, the first was some thing with plastic rings and wood which eventually turns into a bobble hat or some thing similar, next came the potters whell which Jayne enjoyed this as it was fun and messy. The final test was on the huge carpet making loom, this was hard work but great fun. Well with the fun bit out of the way so Sue, Jayne and I headed out to Montejaque where we had some lunch while we waited for Eva (of Ronda Mountains) to meet us. We then went to a site a few KM away where Eva had been given information about the very rare subspecies of the Narcissus Confusa / Bugei which has still to be give an official name but it may be Montejaquensis or something similar. Eva had seen a single flower which was not quite out a few days earlier but she now had another site to check and once there we soon found two cracking flowers and then along the same track we found several more plants. In the same area we also had Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis). After taking lots of shot we headed to another just off the Libar Valley, on the way we saw lots more Griffon Vultures, a male Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). We then all piled into Eva 4x4 and she took us up to a spot above the valley where she was going to show us another Narcissus species. We parked and walked a short way out to a small ridge where we saw hundreds of multi headed spikes of Narcissus Beaticus along with Wild-leaved Iris (Iris planifolia) this made a fine sight. We also saw the Bonelli's Eagle again, loads more Griffons and down on the ground there was a nice carpet of the beautiful Andalucian Storksbill (Erodium recoderi). We then went back down into the town for a coffee and then made our way back to Sue's house for something to eat.

Photographs from the top: Jayne on the potters wheel, Narcissus Confusa / Bugei x2, Sam taking a shot, Narcissus Beaticus x2, part of Sierra Libar and Andalucian Storksbill (Erodium recoderi).

Friday 8 February 2013

Laguna Dulce, Malaga Province and Grazalema, Cadiz Province.

A few days with good friends Sue and Sam.

Linaria tristris.
Jayne and I set off for Sue's campo house near Grazalema, on the way I saw a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) which flushed up from the ditch along the road near the house, Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) all of which were seen before we even reached Huétor Tajár. Further along the way we had a largish flock of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) which flew over the motorway, White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). We stopped off breifly at Laguna Dulce where I had a scan from the hide.
Crags near Montejaque.
Out on the water there were loads of Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), a few Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and at least two Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) these were joined by good numbers of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and around 30 White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala). Also seen but in smaller numbers were both Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera). Along the margins several Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) were feeding along with a few winter plumaged Reed Buntings ( Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and loads of Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Narcissis fernandesii.
Out on the flooded fields there were more Northern Lapwings joined by a few Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia), several Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and a surprise roosting Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia). Other species seen at this site included Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
We then continued on our way towards Ronda, finding that we had to use the old road past Teba as the new one had calpsed again. On the detour we did however pick up Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and a little further on nearer Ronda a couple of Jays (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) which flew across the road moving between Oak woods.
We then spent a couple of hours in Ronda town during which we had a walk along the cliffs and gorge where we saw a single Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), several Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Feral Pigeons (Columba livia domesticus) by the thousand and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
Intermediate Perriwinkle (Vinca difformis).
We then started the last short part of the trip up to Sue's via Benaojan where we had some lunch before going on through Montejaque and the out to the main Sevilla road. Along this route we saw loads more Griffon Vultures, Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) along with Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Narcissis fernandesii, Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus), Linaria tristris and Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia). As we approached Sue's along the final sretch of country road there were a couple of spikes of Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana), lots of Intermediate Perriwinkle (Vinca difformis) quite a few tall spikes of the beautiful Asphodelus ramosus. We then reached Sue's and after a very welcome coffee and a good chat we had a quick explore of the garden seeing Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) which was singing nicely, Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla). During the evening we had another good rattle and sorted out some of my unidentified Butterfly shot adding a new species to my list Idas Blue (Plebejus idas) which was seen back in July up in the Sierra Nevada.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Above Trabuco, Malaga Province.

Birding in a chill wind but with end to end blue skies !!!

Jayne was again going to here craft group meeting so I went with her and then continued on birding in the local Sierra's. Up in the pine woods above the town I spent some time watching what come into the water tanks which top up the goats drinking troughs. The first bird seen was a fine male Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which spent some time calling from the trees before spending some time on the top of the water container drinking. After a few minutes it was joined by two females and a couple of Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), a Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) and several Common Chaffinchs (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). In the surrounding area I also added Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
I then moved up to the higher point a little further along the track I soon picked up a few Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) which were perched together in a large Hawthorn bush, a couple of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which drifted off to the east and a Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos). I then dropped down and had a walk along the upper reaches of the Guadalhorce where it skirts along the side of La Sierrecilla, along here there were good numbers of Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
On my walk back to the car I picked up a pair of dispalying Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) on the ridge of La Sierrecilla and in the same area I saw another two riffon Vultures, one of which lacked a tail and around half of its primaries and secondries which made it lok very odd and as if it was making hard work of flying. On the slopes there were a small number of Spanish Ibex (Cabra Monte / Capra pyreaica hispanica) including a really nice male. I then went back to Trabuco and picked up Jayne before we went back home.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Hacho, Loja, Granada Province.

An evening stroll.

Wild-leaved Irises (Iris planifolia).
Juan and Beatriz came over to our house for our weekly language lesson, while Jayne and Beatriz did the English part of the afternoon, Juan and I went just up the road to Hacho. Hacho is a small sierra just to the North of Loja.
We parked just off the side of the road between Loja and Ventorros de San Jose, as soon as we were out of the car Chika, Juans dog was off and running and did not stop for the next 3 hours or so. Juan and I started along the track at a far more sedate and found the first patch of the many thousands of Wild-leaved Irises (Iris planifolia) including a good number of white plants, some growing in quite large clumps.
Ophrys forestieri.
We continued on up to the pine woods, on the way several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
 Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
On the way up to the woods we found several spikes of the early flowering Ophrys forestieri growning on the track side bank and in the pine woods we guested that there were at least 200 Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) with quite a few more forestieri and loads of rosettes of species to come. Also on the slopes we found a single flower of Sierra Nevada Crocus (Crocus nevadensis) a species I have seen up on the Sierra Nevada and on Sierra Loja.
Sierra Nevada Crocus (Crocus nevadensis).
We then dropped down into the Mediterrainean scrub picking up Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilargo / Sylvia undata), Brambling (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla).
Wild-leaved Irises (Iris planifolia).
We started to walk back down to the car but on the way we spent a while stood watching the Northern crags of Hacho, here we soon added Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and just on dark we heard the target an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) calling from a hidden crag but eventually it flew into view and called again from another large rock. We then went back to the house and had a cup of tea.