Friday, 2 May 2014

Sierra de Loja and Zafarraya Road, Granada Province.

Up in the local hills and Valley's.
GRANADA WILDLIFE'S Spring Tour.
Day Seven.
Again I picked the group up from the Cortijo de Tajar and again the first comment was about the great food, once we were all loaded up we headed for the hills, well one of the local Sierra's. We set off daown th A92 and up Sierra de Loja, on the first stretch of track we started the day with a Red Squirrel (Sclurus vulgaris), followed by Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Blackbird  (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). A little further along we parked and walked up to the small quarry, on the first section we picked up Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus). There were also good numbers of wildflowers on the track side including Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Viola dementria, Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus), Tragopogon angustifolius, Rosy garlic (Allium roseum), Navel-wort  (Omphalodes commutata), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), Centaurea boissieri and Pyramidal Orchid (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia). As we walked up the slope we had good views of Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spectacled (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata), Melodious (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) and Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). At the top near the quarry the scopes came out and we had great views of an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) which was sat on the entrance to it's nest platform on the high crags above, also in the area we recorded Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus). Also seen on the high tops of the quarry were a couple of Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica) which walked slowly off up the hill. In and around the quarry we also had Linaria anticaria, Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Silvery Paronychia (Paronychia argentea), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis), Rusty-back Fern (Ceterach officinarum), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys), Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus) and Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia). During the walk back down to the van we spent quite a while watching a skulking warbler in a small Hawthorn bush, most of the group were getting glimpes of the bird but Nick kept on commenting on the orangish legs but none of the rest of us could see this colour on the bird, eventually a nice female Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis) shot up and then out of the bush. It did not have orange legs, it was at this point we guessed that Nick was actually watching a different bird to the rest of us which later he decided was a Spectacled after we had closer better views of one further up the hill. We reached the van and headed up along the crags stopping about three quarters of the way up to check the Hawthorn bushes, here we picked up Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), more Spectacled Warblers, Western Dappled White (Euchloe crameri), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera) and Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). We moved on again adding several Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and the first of quite a few Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) to the day list. Our next proper stop was at Charca del Negra, we pulled off the track near the pool and checked the area over, in the water we soon saw several Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl) which kept coming to the surface briefly to breath. On the near by crag we had very nice views of a male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) which was singing nicely, good numbers of noisy Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), more Rock Buntings, several Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) which were coming down to drink and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). Also at this spot we saw Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Bitting Stonecrop (Sedum acre), Buckler Mustard (Biscutella frutescens), Chickweed (Cerastium boissieri), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Little Robin (Geranium Purpureum), Saxifraga Camposii which was not quite in flower and Sarcocapnos pulcherrima. We continued on around to the next corner but we did not add to the list but had nice views of Blue-rock Thrush, Black and Black-eared Wheatears and on the way back towards Charca both male and female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes. The morning had flashed by and lunch was calling so we started to drop back down towards Loja, on the way we saw much the same species but added Paeonia coriacea, Red Phlomis (Phlomis purpurea) and Ptilotrichum spinosum.
Once we were down the hill we went and had lunch at the bar in Venta del Raya before going to a nearby area of cereal fields looking for Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) which we found easily, whlst at the spot we watched a couple of males and a female both perched and in flight. We then moved on down the road a short way to an area of Oak woodlands looking birds but also Orchid species, birds seen included Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) heard only, Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) heard only, Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus). Other species seen were Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Lorquin's Blue (Cupido lorquinii), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Conical Orchid (Orchis conica), Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana), Lange's Orchid (Orchis langei), Sawfly Orchid (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia), Yellow Bee Orchid (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea), Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi), Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca), Warty Spurge (Euphorbia squamigera), Spanish Thistle (Scolymus hispanicus) and Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum var discolor).On the drive back to the hotel we finished the day list off with Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Short-toed  Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus).

Photographs from the top: The Group on Sierra de Loja (Lynda, Judy, John, Nick and Mike), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis), The Group again near Charca del Negra, Sawfly Orchid (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera), Lange's Orchid (Orchis langei), Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and Lorquin's Blue (Cupido lorquinii).

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