Monday, 10 March 2014

Grazalema and Montecorto areas, Malaga and Cadiz Provinces.

Another day in the beautiful countryside around Grazalema with Sue and Jayne, (day three).

Today we were all up and about a bit earlier as Sam was off to school and we need to be at the venta just down the road by 08:40 for him to catch the bus up into Grazalema. Once Sam was safely on his way we got our kit together and went out for the day, our first stop was on a cracking little area of grassland right on the side of the road a few KM from Grazalema village. The commonest plant here were the beautiful, tall Branched Asphodels (Asphodelus ramosus) which covered the small hillside and attracted lots of Carpentor Bees (Xylocopa violacea), we also found several spikes of Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) and Lesser Celendine (Ranunculus ficaria). Butterflies included Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). In the surounding bushes and in the sky over head we saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Green 
Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). From here we went a short way up a track and parked on the verge before taking a short up hill walk to a nice sunny meadow area where we were looking for butterflies. Straight away we had several Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) chasing each other around the area along with several Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra) and Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus). A little further along the track I managed to find a Festoon which was willing to sit still for a while and let me get a few photographs. In this area we also had a couple of Long-tailed Blues (Lampides boeticus) and a single Common (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), plus Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius). Our next stop was down at Sue's old house where we raided the Orange and Lemon trees in the garden (with the permission of her old landlord) so that when we went home Jayne could make some Marmalade with them. Whilst there we had a quick walk around the garden which was almost unrecognisable due to the severe pruning of some of the trees and heavy strimming that had gone on. Some large trees had fallen down in the storms as well which really opened the place up. We did record Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), more Festoons and a Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) Caterpillar in the Strawberry Tree but not a lot else. We continued on to the roadside bar near Montecorto where Jayne and I had stopped on the first day and had some lunch. Later we went out on the road back towards Grazalema to an area of meadow which has recently been used to hold some horses, on the way we saw several spikes of Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) on the roadside banks. Most of the plants had been chewed off in the field but fortunatully they did not seem to like the Daffs, so on the one side of the field there was a really nice show of Narcissus cerrolazae (formaly fernandesii) and Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) growing amongst the rocks. A fast moving hungry Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum) was visiting the Paperwhites but totally ignoring the cerrolazae and in the scrub higher up the bank there were also several bushes of Stinking Bean Trefoil (Anagyris foetida) and more Branched Asphodels. From here we headed back to the house via Grazalema, Sam and Clive arrived a little later. Sam and I then set to work on making him a swing to fit on the frame in the garden.

Photographs from the top: View of the hills with Branched Asphodels (Asphodelus ramosus), Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus), Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) Caterpillar, Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Narcissus cerrolazae, Jayne, Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum), a clump of  Narcissus cerrolazae, Sue and Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus).







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