A morning along the Western valley.
|Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) with a Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) snack.|
We watched these birds for quite a while before moving on down the valley to the first of our Orchid stops, straight away we found large numbers of the common but beautiful Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea) and nearby a couple of spikes of Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) which were still in nice condition.
|Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia).|
Birds were also seen and heard here including Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) heard only, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and a fine male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
We spent a short while sheltering under a large Round-leaved Oak (Quercus rotundifolia) as a brief but heavy squall passed over.
|Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).|
On the field margins we found several new plant including Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Shepherds Needles (Scandix pecten-veneris), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Warty Spurge (Euphorbia squamigera), Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Spring Rockcress (Arabis verna), Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia) and Field Madder (Sherardia arvensis).
We continued on to a larger clearing and then into another area of Oaks where we quickly found quite a few spikes of the just about flowering Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and a couple of nice pink Southern Early Purple Orchids (Orchis olbiensis).
|Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus).|
Our next stop was at the disused railway line above Venta de Zafarraya where we were looking mainly for birds, on the way we had both Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) sat on a wire fence. Once at the railway we got off to a good start with a male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) sat on a rock near the car park, several Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) over the main crag, Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) all recorded before we reached the tunnel.
Near the tunnel we saw several new plant species including Bitting Stonecrop (Sedum acre), Crambe filiformis, Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Rusty-back Fern (Ceterach officinarum), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and a couple of butterflies Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). We did not see anything new on the far side of the tunnel but had better views of a Rock Sparrow.
|Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).|
Our final stop was on the way back just North of Zafarraya where again we were mainly targeting Orchids, on the way we made a short stop in the village while we watched a very nice Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) drift by. Once at the next spot we started off with a field full of Yellow Bee and a few Mirror Orchids (Ophrys speculum), here we also had more Common Blue Butterflies and a very nice Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina).
We walked a short distance and looked for some spikes of Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta) but all we found were blind rosettes. Just over the next rise we came across a fantastic show of the beautiful Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) with around 30 spikes growing close together in a small clearing. From here we walked slowly back to the car adding Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Bath White (Pontia daplidice) and Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) to the butterfly list. Once back at the car we took a slow drive back to the meeting point picking up Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) on the way.
|Graham, Lisca, Sheila and Roger.|
Thanks to Lisca, Graham, Sheila and Roger for supporting Granada Wildlife and the great comments at the end of the tour.