Thursday, 15 May 2014

Sierra de Loja and Venta de Raya Valley, Granada Province.

A day on the hill and surrounding areas with Helen and Paul Brock entomologists from the Newforest in the UK.
Day one.

Helen and Paul had arrived yesterday from Guacin on the train and after a nights rest we went through the Moth trap which I had set up on the patio out side there room. There was nothing very special in it but we did have a few species including 1655 (0720) Ethmia bipunctella, 7581 Gnopharmia stevenaria, 8904 (2460) Dysgonia algira (Passenger), 8965 (2465) Tyta luctuosa (The Four-spotted), 9100 (2415) Acontia lucida (Pale Shoulder), 9380 Chazaria incarnata, 9140 (2407) Eublemma ostrina (Purple Marbled), 9425 Caradrina proxima and a few others.
After sorting out the trap we headed off up Sierra de Loja and our first stop was at the bottom of the small quarry track where we parked and walked up to the quarry. Almost straight away we found our first of many Southern (Pyronia cecilia) and Spanish Gatekeepers (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), along with a couple of False Ilex (Querquera / Satyrium esculi) and a single Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Mancha Azul / Satyrium spini), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae), a very well behaved Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). There was a lot of other insects seen but I am still working on giving them names. Birds included Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus). Plant life was also seen Pyramidal Orchid (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia), Rabbits bread (Andryala integrifolia), Rampion Bellflower (Campanular rapunculus), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Centaurea boissieri, Navel-wort (Omphalodes commutata) and Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum). We moved on up along the crags and made a stop just round the top corner and started to try and get some photographs of the very flighty Spanish Marbled Whites (Medioluto Inés / Melanargia ines) that were zipping around between the Thapsia villosa plants and the rocks. We eventually admitted defeat but not before we saw a great selection of other insects including Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), a very nice Long-horn Beetle species and a Robberfly with a beetle in it grasp. We moved on making our way straight out to Charca del Negra where we gave the area a really good checking over, again we had some more insect species along with Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera). Whilst we walked around the site we recorded Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) and Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). On Charca it's self we had views of a male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) and a male Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) which was the first time I had seen this species at the pool. Whilst we watched the Dragons we also saw several Sharp-ribbed  Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl) come up to breath. We moved a short distance further along the track and checked out the Goat Cave where we saw Blue-rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Wall Brown and Small Copper again before turning around and heading a short way back down the hill to a roadside dell where we spent quite a while getting photographs, these included some niceones of a beautiful female Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora) which was one of Paul and Helens main target species. In the same area we also got lucky with the Spanish Marbled Whites and several other species including Knapweed Fritillary, Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus) and more Spanish Festoons, Common Blue, Small Copper, Southern Brown Argus and Red-underwing Skippers. Birds several House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and more Black-eared Wheatears.
We continued on down and stopped by the large Marble Blocks on the roadside where we again had good views of the Spanish Marbled Whites, Panoptes Blue, Mallow Skipper, Small Copper and added Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto) plus a couple of Red-billed Choughs and several Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus).We dropped down off the mountain and had a run along the road between Venta Del Raya and Zafarraya where we stopped and spent the afternoon wandering around a large area of Oak woodland seeing Lots more species including Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla),Spanish Festoon, Spanish Marbled White, Southern Brown Argus, Clouded Yellow and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris). We also had Lange's Orchid (Orchis langei), Southern Early Purple
Orchid (Chupaeros / Orchis olbiensis), Lizard Orchid (Himantoglosum hircinum), Owlfly (Libelloides coccajus), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
We then headed back up to the house, I have listed only the species that I have named but we saw a great many insects that were new to me and will still need to be named.

Photographs from the top: Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus), Paul in action with the Cardinal Fritillary, Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius), Robberfly sp and prey, Long-horn Beetle sp, Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / argynnis Pandora) and Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus).

3 comments:

Edmund Mackrill said...

Just love reading your Blog Mick, especially over breakfast on a very wet morning in Lincolnshire! So much information with excellent photos.
Today I think that the Carcharodus you have labelled as C. alceae is in fact C. baeticus. The upper wing discal markings are non-linear as opposed to the narrow,linear markings of C. alceae. Plus the general plumage appearance seems to favour baeticus.
What do you think?

stiefbeen said...

geweldig wat je allemaal niet ziet als je er even de tijd voor neemt.

LojaWldlife said...

Thanks very much for pointing that out I like things to be right, I cut and pasted the wrong name in.

Thanks again Mick.