Friday, 23 May 2014

Sierra de Loja and Zafarraya Valley, Granada Province.

John and I headed off up the hill.
Day two with John Webster.

John and I headed out towards Loja and then on up the hill for some mountain species that John had not seen before.On the way we saw Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus). 
Once we were up on the hill we parked near the end of the quarry track and had a walk, almost straight away we picked up Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). Further along nearer to the quarry we had very good views of Dartford (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and more distant glimpes of Spectacled (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata). Once we were in the entrance area of the quarry we saw a very nice pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) which was hunting along the slopes and on the main crag an adult Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) which was sitting on the edge of its platform. We walked back down recording Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) on the way, as well as Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae). 
We then made our way out to Charca del Negra as the main species we wanted to see were all in that area, on the way we saw several Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).
Once at the pool we had a good look around and had good views of  Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Spanish Marbled White (Medioluto Inés / Melanargia ines), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), Saxifraga Camposii, Sharp-ribbed Salamander (Pleurodeles waltl) and Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) but there was no sign of either species of Rock Thrush so we moved around to the crags just passed the goat cave. Here we evenually had views of a male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis), plus Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and lots more Rock Sparrows. We decided then that we would start to drop back down the hill and head for the woodlands below, on the way and just before Charca we caught up with the long over due Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and even lower down in the pines we had Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus).
Once we were down off the hill we stopped at a bar in Venta del Raya and had a very nice Menu del dia (Thanks John) and then made a stop just beyond the village to check out some Montagu's Harriers that were breeding in some large cereal fields. We had two males sitting on a fence, the one was a standard looking bird but the second was much paler but flew before I had chance to get a shot and headed off up high. 
Next we moved on down the valley to the oak woodlands further south where we checked out the more open areas for birds, butterflies and orchids. Bird wise we picked up Bonelli's (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) Subalpine (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) and Orphean Warblers (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Red-rumpedSwallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) heard only, Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Butterflies included Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Lorquin's Blue (Cupido lorquinii), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) and the orchids seen were Lange's (Orchis langei), Lizard (Himantoglosum hircinum), Pyramidal (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia) and Sawfly Orchids (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera), a few spikes of not yet in flower Epipactis tremollsi and some well over with Giant (Himantoglossum robertiana), Conical Orchids (Orchis conica) and Sword-leaved Helleborines (Cephalanatera longifolia).
Once we had finished off at this site I dropped John off at the bust stop in Loja where he made his way down to Malaga and spent the rest of the week there birding Guadalhorce and other local sites.

Thanks to John for the two days birding and hope he enjoyed thema sa much as I did. Since Johns return to the Uk he has sent me a message saying that he had 22 new species during the two days, can't be bad !!

Photographs from the top: female  Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), newly fledged Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Saxifraga Camposii, Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Lizard Orchid (Himantoglosum hircinum), Lorquin's Blue (Cupido lorquinii) and Sawfly Orchids (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera).

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