Sunday, 9 March 2014

Between Grazalema and Montejaque, Cadiz and Malaga Provinces.

A day in the countryside with friends, (Day two).

Sue, Sam, Jayne and I had a nice steady start to the day and before headed out to the Dolmen La Giganta on the road back towards Ronda from Sue's. We parked and walked along a farm track to the gate of the site. During the windy walk we saw a couple of spikes of Giant (Himantoglossum robertiana) and quite a few Somber / Dull Bee Orchids (Ophrys fusca sbbsp fusca). Birds included the almost omnipresent Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Once at the Dolmen site Jayne and Sam were invited through the gate which is normally locked and walked down the ice dry track to the site but Sue and I took the muddy route as we wanted to check a Spring where Sue had seen some Amphibians a few days earlier. We got to the spring and checked the pool and the stream but only found a nice big fat female Common Toad (Bufo bufo) after a while we went and saw the Dolmen and then walked back to the gate. On the way Sue spotted a small hole in the ground and soon showed me a female Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) hope that's the right one Sue??? From here we made our way back to the car seen a very nice Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) on the way. 
Our next stop was at a lake in amongst the Cork Oaks (Quercus suber) where we met up with local Walking and Wildlife Guide Eva Bratek and headed in to the woods. We started by heading for the furthest point of our walk and having a look at several more plants of the beautiful Hoop-petticoat Daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium) before having a look for some Amphibians in some nearby pools. We did not see any adults but again found loads of Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) spawn. There were also a few birds about and they included Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and several Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) which were singing beautifully from the scrub.Butterflies seen included Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). On the return walk we heard a Stripe-less Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis) in a damp area below the dam of the lake, saw several Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) and I had fleeting view of a Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata). Back at the car we could hear a singing Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) from nearby trees and also saw Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and several more Griffon Vultures. During the time we spent here Sam and Jayne we wandering around the woods collecting bone, by the time we were leaving Sam had quite a collection. All but a very nice piece of Deer antler were left in a pile at the site when we moved on.
Just as we were about to go for lunch Peter Jones pulled in so we stopped and had a chat for a while and the drove to Montejaque where we had a snack in one of the bars before heading back along the road to check some Orchids we saw as we drove through the gorge. At the gorge we found several spiked of the beautiful Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis olbiensis) along with the large flowered Buttercup which I am still trying to put a name to and several Broad leaved Iris (lirio de invierno / Iris planifolia).Our next and final stop was at the head of the Libar valley where Sue and Eva showed me several clumps of the uncommon Narcissus cuatrecasasii which was flowering on the crags but luckily there were several plants lower down as well. In the same area we had views of Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and heard Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia). Other wildflowers included Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Branched
Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus) and Intermediate Periwinkle (Vinca difformis). After taking the photo's we said goodbye to Eva who walked back down the road to the village and the rest of us headed off back to the house.

Photographs from the top: Narcissus cuatrecasasii, Somber / Dull Bee Orchids (Ophrys fusca sbbsp fusca), Common Toad (Bufo bufo), the Dolmen, Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula), Hoop-petticoat Daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium),
Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi), Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) spawn and Narcissus cuatrecasasii.

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