Saturday 29 June 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

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

Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula).
I headed up into Granada and met up with Gretchen and Wendy before we all headed up towards El Purche 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).
Gretchen and Wendy in one of the wooded lanes on the lower slopes.
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).
Galium pyrenaicum.
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 (Pontia daplidice), Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron ), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Spanish Gatekeeper (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).
Pterocephalus spathulatus.
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, Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Spanish 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), 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.
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri).
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 / False Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae / tripolinus), Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus), 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.

Friday 28 June 2013

The Cacín Valley, Granada Province,Spain.

A day tour in the valley with Geoff and Sue Tucker from the UK.
Sue and Geoff on the bridge over the Cacín.
We started out from Sue and Geoff's accommodation just to the North of Ventorros de San Jose and dropped down towards Huétor Tajár, on the way we had our first of many Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), along with Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We went down passed our house and out onto the fields below where we added Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata). 
From here we went out on to the Agricultural area near Moraleda, on the way in to the site we picked up a very nice Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) which flew along the field edge disappeared by the time we stopped and got out of the car. Whilst we were looking for this bird we had nice views of a 1st summer male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), close flight views of a Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and a singing Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla).
Once we were out on the fields we soon realized that an awful lot of muck had had been spread on the fields and that 3/4 of the worlds population of flies had come to take advantage which made birding quite unpleasent at times. How ever we quickly located a flock of 9 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and several more Short-toed Larks.
We continued on through the site to a spot where we watched a pair of beautiful Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) which were nesting in a hole in a dead tree. In the same area we saw another pair of Montagu's Harrier's and a male Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) which kept buzzing the adult Rollers. In this area we also had views of Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Swift, European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). We then moved along side the nearby solar panel on our way back up to the old cortijo hoping for the elusive Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) to put in a visit but we did not get lucky so we retraced our tracks back down towards the Panel farms.
On the way we saw a couple of immature Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which were sat under a small Olive tree, we had great views but all to quickly they moved further down the row of trees where we continued to watch them. We later moved back along the panels where we had good views of a family party of Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and a couple more Little Owls which were sat out on rock piles. From here we drove down into El Turro seeing several more Crested Larks, Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) which were perched on the wires.
We drove down the valley and stopped near the bridge across the Rio Cacín and walked along the track towards the dam of the Embalse de Cacín. Straight away we had good views of both Common and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) flying together which gave us a good chance for comparison and we also saw two or three Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) mixed in with the hundred or so birds.
A little further on we saw our first Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) of the day. Once we reached the large White Willow where the track splits we scanned through the trees and here I saw and heard a male Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis) but both Sue and Geoff missed this one but we all heard but did not see a calling Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla).
Up near the dam we saw another pair of Golden Orioles, Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Blackcap(Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
In the river we could hear Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) and the reeds there were a few Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) Dragonflies and a single Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator). Butterflies were also seen during this part of the trip and they included Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cardinal Fritillary (argynnis Pandora), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) and Small White (Artogeia rapae).
We walked back down to the car and just as we reached the vehicle we picked up a stunning Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) which gave us pectacular viewshere and down by the dam which was our next stop. The lake was quite quiet but we did find small numbers of Common Pochards (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) which flew from the shallows and landed on the far bank.
On the muddy margins we found a couple of returning Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), a pair of Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and out on the dead bushes in the centre of the lake a single White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). On the far side of the lake we could see several Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) basking on a log and in the road we saw a Large Psammodromus (Lagartija colilarga / Psammodromus algirus) run for cover.
 We moved on further south along the valley and called in at the bar in Cacín where we got some lunch which we took away with us. We drove on up the hill on the road towards Ventas de Huelma where we had brief views of a Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) as it flew of one of the Pylons and further along the road we had a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
We turned off the road and headed down one of the dirt tracks but after a short way we had to make our first stop to view a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) which was sat on a pylon but was hard to make out as the day was wareing on and the heat haze was building up. At the end of the track we parked up and scanned the ridges seeing another pale phase Booted Eagle, some distant Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and we could also hear a distant Little Bustard which remained out of sight.
From here we retraced our way back down to Cacín and then headed back north along the valley to the crags just below Moraleda where we picked up a few more European Bee-eaters, Jackdaws, Common Kestrels and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) the only new species for day list. From here we headed back in towards Ventorros.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Near Grazalema and Montejaque, Cadiz Province.

Our last day with Sue and Sam.

Aculepeira ceropegia.
We had a nice steady start and after breakfast Sue and I headed to a site not far from the house where she had seen Heart-leaved Serapias (Serapias cordigera) earlier in the year, we arrived and could hear and saw a singing Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). Insects included Aculepeira ceropegia a spider found in the grass below the Oak trees, Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus) and Thread-winged Lacewing (Nemoptera bipennis). We reached the scrubby area and Sue showed me the dead spikes of the Orchids in amongst a great many Summer Asphodel (Asphodelus aestivalis) plants, in the same area we also saw some overwith Iris filifolia, Cynara baetica and Armeria villosa ssp villosa. After checking the site out we headed back to the house and then later I headed out to Steve's Bridge near Grazalema to spend a while looking for Dragonflies before Sue, Jayne and Sam joined me later.
Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus).
I arrived and went straight into the water just down stream from the bridge and immediately I started to see good numbers of Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi) which in recent years have colonised southern Spain from North Africa, several Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma), Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), a Common Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica) which just bolted through the site and a couple of Small Pincertails (Onychogomphus forcipatus) one of which had very recently emerged. In the water there were some very large Iberian Barbel (Luciobarbus comizo) along with several species of smaller fish. 
Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma).
Birds included Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla).
After about an hour and a half Jayne, Sue and Sam turned up and we all headed out to another site over towards Montejaque, we parked on the roadside and walked along a track to a pool through some very beautiful Cork Oak woodland to a largish area of water in amongst the woods.
Stripe-less Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis).
As soon as we went through the gate we started to find butterflies including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cardinal Fritillary (Argynnis Pandora), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi) and Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina). Along the way we also had some interesting wildflowers, the commonest were the yellow form of Pistorinia brevifolia, Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Candle-stick bugloss (Echium boissieri), Mediterranean lineseed (Bellardia trixago) and many more. Once we were up by the pool we started to check out a small damp patch near the dam and we soon found lots of very young Stripe-less Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis) along with hundreds of Tadepoles which unfortunutally looked to be doomed as the water was drying up fast.
Pistorinia brevifolia.
We continued on along the lake side where we had good views of several Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) as they ran through the woods. Here we also had a good number of Hawfinches, a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra). The only Drogonflies we saw were several male Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum) which spent most of their time on longs around the margins, also seen were several Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) and a couple of immature Natterjack Toads (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita).  At the far end of the lake we checked out a very sandy gully looking for more Amphibians but all we found were several more Natterjacks.
Sue, Sam and Jayne in the Oaks.
Butterflies included Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Meadow Brown,  Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba) and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris). We eventually made our way back to the car and drove the short distance down to the bar near the Ronda road where we had a drink before saying thanks and goodbye to Sue and Sam before heading off home.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Sierra de Grazalema, Natural Park, Cadiz Province.

A new Dragonfly for the list along with several Wildflowers.
Day two with Sue and Sam.

Campanula specularioides.
Today we were heading out to El Bosque for a guided tour of the Botanical Gardens by young Sam who had been there just a few days earlier with his classmates from his School in Grazalema. On the way over we made a stop just above the village to see the spectacular Campanula specularioides which was growing in large clumps on all the rock walls along side the road, also seen here were Sedum brevifolium, Sedum mucizonia, Sedum album and Sedum acre. In the same area we also heard Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) and saw Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
Sedum brevifolium.
We also saw Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
From here we carried on towards El Bosque, once we arrived at the town we took a very bumpy road up to the Botanical Gardens and then spent the next couple of hours being shown around this cracking site by Sam. We started working our way up the paths checking out many of the plants which were well signed on the way, we paid particular attention to the Bladder Senna (Colutea arborescens) bushes where we looked for but did not find the uncommon Iolas Blue (Iolana iolas) but we were not surprised as we were a couple of weeks later than planned. I amongst the rocks and plants we located a male Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica) and a couple of the bigger Large Psammodromus (Lagartija colilarga / Psammodromus algirus). 
False Ilex Hairstreak (Querquera / Satyrium esculi).
Butterflies that we did see included Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Long-tailed (Lampides boeticus) and Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), False Ilex Hairstreak (Querquera / Satyrium esculi), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra). Out in the car park I found a few species of plant growing in a wet flush running along side the track which included White Clover (Trifolium pratense ssp baeticum), Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum) and Delphinium staphisagria.
Southern Campanula (Campanula mollis).
Our next stop was just down the road where we had a look along a short length of river before going for Lunch, on the river we had a couple of Common Golden Ringed Dragonflies (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata). A little further along the track we scanned the fish farms for Dragons and found several Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi) chasing each other around.
From here we headed back towards Sue's but stopped on the way to take a few photographs of some wildflowers and butterflies on a roadside hill. These included Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea ssp grandiflorum), Pine-cone Knapweed (Leuzea Conifera), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Curry Plant (Helecrisum stoechaes), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Satyrium spini), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa).
Again we continued on back through Grazalema and stopped on the roadside near a large rockface where I got some nice shots of the very rare Southern Campanula (Campanula mollis), more  Campanula specularioides and Sedum sediforme.
A little further down the road we stopped by the side of a small stream where in the passed we had seen Broad-bodied Chasers (Libellula depressa) and we were not disappointed as we soon had a nice male flying around infront of us along with males of Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). Birds included a fine male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and an immature Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), and Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans).
Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis).
From here we headed back up to Sue's where we had a drink, I then headed out again on my own. I made my way down to the spot where we had seen the Orchids yesterday and had another look before continuing on along the stream where I was looking for a couple of Dragonfly species that Steve Jones and Sue had see a week or two earlier.
The first one that I found was Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis), a species I had seen briefly last year at a different site but I did not manage to get any shot of them, this time I found many more insects and managed to get some shot that I was happy with. A little further on I saw a few larger Dragonflies which I suspected were the second of my targets. One of them kept landing on the far side of the pool, so there was no choice but to go in, I empted my pockets and started to wade across the pool but soon realised that it was deeper than I had guessed and I was soon having to take the small camera out of my shirt pocket as I was soon up to my chest.
Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis).
Eventually I reached the spot and as expected the dam thing took off and headed down to the far end of the pool, there were however dozens of Orange Featherlegs still there so I got some shots of them.
Just as I was about to wade back to the far side of the pool the larger insect returned and I was able to get some nice shots and confirm that it was indeed a male Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus).
The Clubtail sat on its stem and allowed me to take my time to get some shots and remained there as I waded back, I was soaked right up to the collar on my shirt by the time I had stooped down to get in nice and close but it was well worth it. I then retraced my way back along the far bank to the car getting some very nice views of a small group of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus).
I then headed back up to the house and went down to our room to get changed, on the way down the stairs I noticed a shape on the floor which stood out even in the dark of the stairwell as a Mediterranean Scorpion (Escorpión Amarillo / Buthus Occitanus). I had my hands full of Camera equipment and other bits (well thats my excuse) so I called Sue who caught the thing in a cup. I then took it out side and reliesed it on a tree some way down the track away from the house and took some shots. On the way back I saw several Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Boar Thistle (Galactites tomentosa), Tolpis barbata, Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
Mediterranean Scorpion (Escorpión Amarillo / Buthus Occitanus).

Monday 24 June 2013

Sierra de Grazalema, Natural Park, Cadiz Province.

An afternoon Orchid Hunting with Sue and Sam.

Summer Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes aestivalis).
Jayne and I headed over to Grazalema to spend three days with good friends Sue Eatock and young Sam (Our guide for the second day) on the way over we picked up a few species including Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
We started by heading to the Visitors Centre on the main carpark in the town where we found Sam playing and Clive working hard trying to promote this cracking area. We spent some time with Sam before going over the far side of the carpark for a drink with Clive and Sam, after a while Sue met us there and once we had finished our drinks Sue, Sam, Jayne and I headed off to Sue's place for some lunch before heading out for an afternoon spent in the countryside. Whilst we were at Sue's I saw and heard Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus).
Dorycnopsis gerardi.
From Sue's we headed off to a site nearby where we had information about the very rare Summer Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes aestivalis) orchid and once we had parked up we had a look along the small stream at the site, striaght away I had a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) fly away and under the small bridge carrying the track. In the air over the site there were several European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) hawking insects, from here we could also hear a singing Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) and a calling Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus). We continued on along the banks of the stream and after a short while we located several spikes of the target species on a small islet in a flooded part of the stream and a short while later we had quite a few more plants in a drier part of the stream bed. We took lots of photographs of the plants before checking the area out for other species, in the scrub above the spot we found several Western Willow Spreadwings (Lestres viridis) in amongst the Hawthorn bushes, a teneral Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) which zipped away before I could get a shot and several Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).
Lavatera trimestris.
Down in the wetter area I also flushed out from underfoot several very small Stripe-less Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis) and a not so small Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) plus during the walk we flushed out a couple of Large Psammodromus (Lagartija colilarga / Psammodromus algirus) Lizard. Other birds seen included Cirl (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Elaeoselinum foetidum.
After spending quite a while we headed back up to Sue and Sams where Sam and I had a walk around the garden, during the stroll we hear and saw both Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus) and Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea). We had a look through the flowering plants and put names to a few of them with Sue's help later, they included Dorycnopsis gerardi, Lavatera trimestris and Elaeoselinum foetidum.
Sam and I then went back in to the house and we all settled for a pleasent evening.