Friday, 8 August 2014

Straits of Gibraltar, Cadiz Province.

Day two of Steve and Lynn´s visit with a lifer for both of us.

Jayne, Lynn, Steve and I set off at 07:00 heading down to the Straits area where Steve and I were going to meet up with Fernando Enrique Navarrete a young Biologist who lives and works down in the area. We dropped Jayne and Lynn near the Gib border crossing and then headed off to our meeting point, we were a good hour early so I gave Fernando a ring and he joined us a few minutes later. Whilst we waited we had a coffee and the took some photo´s of a flock of Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) which were just starting to take to the air after a nights rest in the surrounding pine trees. In the same area we also saw and heard Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus).
Fernanda arrived and we did the introdutions bit and then took a short walk to a nearby river where we first checked out a sandy shore line for the larva of the targets species and the exuvia. 
We found a single exuvia but no larva so we headed out on to a nearby field where after a few minutes I found a female Green Hooktail (Paragomphus genei) which was a fantastic start but Fernando and Steve soon had a cracking male insect which was just stunning. We spent most of the morning at this site seeing several females and at least two possibly three males along with Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) before having a second look at the river where we eventually found a larva in the sand and had views of a Cicarda species in a low tree over the water. Other dragons included White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), Violet (Trithemis annulata) and Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) and Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea). Other species seen included  Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Iberian Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Ibérico / Phylloscopus brehmii), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). 
Once we were both happy with the photographs of the Hooktail Fernandotook us to a spot nearby where after a bit of a search we found a few female Banded Grondlings (Brachythemis leucosticta) but not a sign of any males. Also seen here were a couple of Violet Dropwings and a Scarlet Darter
Our next stop was in the bar where we had met for a cool beer before heading to another site a few KM away, we parked on the roadside and climbed through a large gate and made our way out to what looked like a disused gravel pit. Straight away we were amazed by the number of dragons flying, they included Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii), Epaulet Skimmer, Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria), Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum) along with lots more Scarlet and Red-veined Darters and Orange-winged Dropwing
We spent quite a while at this site before heading back to the field where we had spent the morning but Hooktails were harder to find and even harder to photograph but we managed to locate a male and a couple females. We also saw a beautiful Argiope lobata spider with a web stretched out between several juncus spikes. 
Later we headed in to La Linea where we met Jayne and Lynn at the hotel before going for a wander around the town where we struggled to find anywhere to eat.

We had a great day and saw some amazing species thanks to Fernando who very kindly spent the morning with us taking us to great places, Thank you Fernando.
Photographs from the top: Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Fernando and Steve, Male Green Hooktail (Paragomphus genei), Female Green Hooktail (Paragomphus genei), Banded Grondlings (Brachythemis leucosticta), Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii), Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) and Argiope lobata.

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