A day around Grazalema day looking for Orchids with Juan Pérez Contreras.
I was up and about early getting sorted to met Juan at the Hotel Cortijo de Tajar, on my way down there I had a Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) sweep across the road in front of the car and a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) sat on posts on the roadside.
Juan and I headed off along the A92 to Antequera and then on to Laguna Dulce for our first stop of the day, on the way we added Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) to the list.
Once we were at Dulce the list grew quickly, the commonest species was by far Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) these were joined by a good scattering of Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina) and Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), a single male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and singles of Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) and Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus). Whilst scanning we also saw several Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
We continued on and our next stop was at a riverside location near Indiana on the road toward Benaojan where we were hoping to see the summer visiting Isabeline / Western Olivaceous Warbler (Zarcera Pálido / Hippolais pallida), we arrived at the spot and quickly picked up Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and a little way along the road from where we parked we had some very good views of the target warbler as it sang from a dead branch hanging over the river. In the area we also had Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) and Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). In the river we heard and saw several of both Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) and Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi).
From here we headed over to Sue Eatock's where we dropped of some bits and pieces and had a look down in the lower parts of her garden at a Serapias species which I still have not put a name to with any certainty. In the garden we also saw Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Spanish Marbled White (Medioluto Inés / Melanargia ines), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Yellow Lupin (Lupinus luteus) and Small Pink Cistus (Cistus crispus) before headed out to a nearby spot for the rare Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid (Serapias cordigera).
Once we had parked we walked out across a couple of goat filled fields until we reached a scrub covered area where we searched in the clearer areas of the Orchid which after a short while we found. In total we located around 7 spikes in varying states but a couple were in fairly good condition. In the same area we also found several spikes of Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua), a family of Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi) and a single European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis) in the stream at the far end of the site.
We then drove towards Grazalema stopping at a roadside boggy area and finding 20 or so just going passed there best Lax-flowered Orchid (Orchis Laxiflora) and a single Small-tongue Orchid (Serapias parviflora). Again we continued on along a narrow road away from Grazalema and out to a site a couple of KM along a dirt track off the road. We parked and walked to a fabulous grassy meadow which was full of orchids including a 100 plus spikes of Lax-flowered, Small-tongue, Tongue, Pyramidal (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia), Bee (Ophrys apifera) and Sawfly Orchids (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera). On a small pool at the top of the site there was a cracking male Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) and amongst the grasses I also saw Meadow Brown, Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri).
Next came a site which I had visited on a few occasions in the past and had had very nice views of the Broad-bodied Chasers that occur there but had never had a decent chance of photographs, today however a stunning male performed unbelievably well and allowed me to approach to with in a couple of inches. Also seen here were a few very nice Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum), Western Dappled White (Euchloe crameri), Isabeline / Western Olivaceous Warbler (Zarcera Pálido / Hippolais pallida) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus).
Next came lunch which we had at a small bar on the Ronda road nearby, whilst eating we watched a pair of Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) entering their nest hole with food several times and a Short-toed Treecreeper which was moving around in an Oak tree in the car park.
After lunch we dropped down towards Grazalema and checked a roadside meadow out which Sue had given us details of, in the area we found two spikes of Ophrys Dyris, hundreds of S. lingua and several of S. parviflora. along with Common Stonechat, Meadow Brown and Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba).
The grasslands of La Rana were our next target but proved to be quite disappointing from the Orchid point of view with just Small Woodcock Orchid (Orquídea abejera becada / Ophrys picta) being found, plus a family party of Nuthatches, a flock of European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and a Southern Grey Shrike.
Our last wildlife site of the day was on the banks of a nearby river where in the past I have seen some cracking Dragonflies and Orchids, today the only orchid species was Lange's (Orchis langei) but the dragons were much better and included the beautiful Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) along with Green Woodpecker, Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) and Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus).
Our last two stops of the day were to visit friends, the first was just up the road where we spent a while chatting with Sue and then a little later with Sam, Little Elle and Clive who came up from the village.
Photographs from the top: Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Serapias species at Sue's, Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid (Serapias cordigera), Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua), Lax-flowered Orchid (Orchis Laxiflora), Juan photographing the Orchids on his new Phone, Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) and Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus).