Wednesday 12 March 2014

Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

A couple of hours on the loacl patch with Juan Perez.

Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild).
Juan and I headed down onto the fields to see if we could see the Jack Snipe (Agachadiza Chica / Lymnocriptes minimus) again, we arrived at the spot and walked the irrigation channel along side the track and crossed the road to Mesia and checked the continuation of the channel on that side of the road.
We saw a single Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), a single Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), lots of Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), 2x Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), a few Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and just as we turned around a single Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) did a fly over.
Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba).
We made our way back to the small pools and followed the ditch across the fields but all we saw were 5/6 more Snipe, Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) but no Jack Snipe this time. Back at the car we noticed a good number of hirundines feeding low over a nearby field, the flock included Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia).
From here we had a quick look along the Rio Vilano on the lower stretch and added Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis). We then decided to head back up to the house for a brew.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Around Bonanza Saltpans, Cadiz Province and travelling Home.

Goodbyes in Grazalema and a longish round trip home.

Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax).
Again we were all up and about fairly sharpish to be ready in time to walk down to the bus with Sam and say bye to him as we were heading off before he would be home. We then went back up to the house, packed the car and said thanks and goodbye to Sue, we had a great time staying with them both as we always do. 
Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres).
We then drove over to Jerez and found the very large shopping centre on the western side of the city where I dropped Jayne and then headed off to Bonanza Salt Pans.
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
I was surprised to find that it only took me 25 minutes to get there, on the way I picked up several species including Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula).
Once I was in amongst the pans I quickly started to increase the list with a good many wader species including Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax), Kentish (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Common (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta) and Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina).
Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa).
Also on the main drive way but on pans further back I could see good numbers of Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Slender-billed Gulls (G aviota Picofina / Larus genei), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), a small number of Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and and at least two roosting Caspian Terns (Pagaza Piquiroja / Sterna caspia) mixed in with lots of Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
At the T junction at the far end of the main drag I turned right but unusually this track was very quiet and except for a few Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) I only saw more the same species. So I turned around and went the opposite direction which I usually find to be quite but on this occasion it turned out to be the best spot on the site. I took the side track and had some much better views of a small flock of Greater Falamingo's and added Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) and Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) to the day list.
Lesser Short-toed Lark (Terrera Marismena / Calandrella rufescens).
On my way back the species just kept coming with a pair of Lesser Short-toed Larks (Terrera Marismena / Calandrella rufescens) showing well on the track, three Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus) roosting on a back off to the right of the track, Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) on the wire fences and a low flying Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) upsetting everything. In the drainage ditch along side the track I also saw a couple of Dragonflies, a single male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and a couple of Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope). 
I had wanted to try and get some shots of the Slender-billed Gulls but so far they had all been out of range on the working pans, as I drove back along the main track I saw someone working in one of the pump house so I stopped for a word with him. In my broken Spanish I got over what I wanted and he opened the chain and said as long as I stayed in the car and put the padlock back on when I had finished I could go and get my shots, which I did thanks to this very helpful chap.
Slender-billed Gull (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei).
Once I had secured the chain I left the site and went to try and find some small pools in amongst all the green houses and small holding nearby, after a couple of wrong turns I found them and considering the amount of rubbish and mess that surrounded the pools they had some good birds in residence.
The commonest by far was Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) followed by Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) and Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser). The best finds were singles of both Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) and Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata), the latter being bird of the day.
I then headed back towards Jerez to meet Jayne, taking the cross country route and getting well and truly lost. Eventually I found my way out of the maze of farm tracks on to a wider track heading in basically the right direction and ended up back on the road that I had arrived on in the morning.
Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata).
On my way along this wider track I had seen more Glossy Ibis, another Great White Egret and several Red Kites (Milano Real / Milvus milvus). Once back at Jerez I quickly found Jayne by Ikea and we started to make our way home taking the route North towards Sevilla and then east along the A92.
At Antequera I called in and checked the fields around Laguna Herrera after Jose Rafael Garrido messaged me of facebook asking me to check whether the Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) I had seen a week or so early was still there.
We spent some time checking the fields but could not see the Great but we did find 9 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) on the fields and on the Laguna good numbers of Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a couple of moulting Water Pipits (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) on the muddy margins. From here we headed home and hit the pit.

Monday 10 March 2014

Grazalema and Montecorto areas, Malaga and Cadiz Provinces.

Another day in the beautiful countryside around Grazalema with Sue and Jayne, (day three).

View of the hills with Branched Asphodels (Asphodelus ramosus).
Today we were all up and about a bit earlier as Sam was off to school and we need to be at the venta just down the road by 08:40 for him to catch the bus up into Grazalema.  Once Sam was safely on his way we got our kit together and went out for the day, our first stop was on a cracking little area of grassland right on the side of the road a few KM from Grazalema village.
Branched Asphodels (Asphodelus ramosus).
The commonest plant here were the beautiful, tall Branched Asphodels (Asphodelus ramosus) which covered the small hillside and attracted lots of Carpentor Bees (Xylocopa violacea), we also found several spikes of Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera), Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) and Lesser Celendine (Ranunculus ficaria). Butterflies included Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon).
Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).
In the surounding bushes and in the sky over head we saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) Caterpillar.
From here we went a short way up a track and parked on the verge before taking a short up hill walk to a nice sunny meadow area where we were looking for butterflies. Straight away we had several Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) chasing each other around the area along with several Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra) and Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus).
A little further along the track I managed to find a Festoon which was willing to sit still for a while and let me get a few photographs.
Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina).
In this area we also had a couple of Long-tailed Blues (Lampides boeticus) and a single Common (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), plus Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius).
Our next stop was down at Sue's old house where we raided the Orange and Lemon trees in the garden (with the permission of her old landlord) so that when we went home Jayne could make some Marmalade with them.
Narcissus cerrolazae.
Whilst there we had a quick walk around the garden which was almost unrecognisable due to the severe pruning of some of the trees and heavy strimming that had gone on. Some large trees had fallen down in the storms as well which really opened the place up.
We did record Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), more Festoons and a Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) Caterpillar in the Strawberry Tree but not a lot else.
Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum).
We continued on to the roadside bar near Montecorto where Jayne and I had stopped on the first day and had some lunch. Later we went out on the road back towards Grazalema to an area of meadow which has recently been used to hold some horses, on the way we saw several spikes of Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) on the roadside banks.
Narcissus cerrolazae.
Most of the plants had been chewed off in the field but fortunatully they did not seem to like the Daffs, so on the one side of the field there was a really nice show of Narcissus cerrolazae (formaly fernandesii) and Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) growing amongst the rocks.
A fast moving hungry Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum) was visiting the Paperwhites but totally ignoring the Cerrolazae and in the scrub higher up the bank there were also several bushes of Stinking Bean Trefoil (Anagyris foetida) and more Branched Asphodels
Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus).
From here we headed back to the house via Grazalema, Sam and Clive arrived a little later. Sam and I then set to work on making him a swing to fit on the frame in the garden.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Between Grazalema and Montejaque, Cadiz and Malaga Provinces.

A day in the countryside with friends, (Day two).

Narcissus cuatrecasasii.
Sue, Sam, Jayne and I had a nice steady start to the day and before headed out to the Dolmen La Giganta on the road back towards Ronda from Sue's. We parked and walked along a farm track to the gate of the site.
Somber / Dull Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca sbbsp fusca).
During the windy walk we saw a couple of spikes of Giant (Himantoglossum robertiana) and quite a few Somber / Dull Bee Orchids (Ophrys fusca sbbsp fusca).
Birds included the almost omnipresent Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Common Toad (Bufo bufo).
Once at the Dolmen site Jayne and Sam were invited through the gate which is normally locked and walked down the ice dry track to the site but Sue and I took the muddy route as we wanted to check a Spring where Sue had seen some Amphibians a few days earlier.
We got to the spring and checked the pool and the stream but only found a nice big fat female Common Toad (Bufo bufo) after a while we went and saw the Dolmen and then walked back to the gate.
The Dolmen.
On the way Sue spotted a small hole in the ground and soon showed me a female Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) hope that's the right one Sue??? From here we made our way back to the car seen a very nice Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) on the way. 
Our next stop was at a lake in amongst the Cork Oaks (Quercus suber) where we met up with local Walking and Wildlife Guide Eva Bratek and headed in to the woods.
We started by heading for the furthest point of our walk and having a look at several more plants of the beautiful Hoop-petticoat Daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium) before having a look for some Amphibians in some nearby pools. 
We did not see any adults but again found loads of Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) spawn.
Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula).
There were also a few birds about and they included Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and several Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) which were singing beautifully from the scrub.
Butterflies seen included Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
Hoop-petticoat Daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium).
On the return walk we heard a Stripe-less Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis) in a damp area below the dam of the lake, saw several Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) and I had fleeting view of a Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata).
Back at the car we could hear a singing Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) from nearby trees and also saw Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and several more Griffon Vultures.
Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi).
During the time we spent here Sam and Jayne we wandering around the woods collecting bone, by the time we were leaving Sam had quite a collection.
All but a very nice piece of Deer antler were left in a pile at the site when we moved on. Just as we were about to go for lunch Peter Jones pulled in so we stopped and had a chat for a while and the drove to Montejaque where we had a snack in one of the bars before heading back along the road to check some Orchids we saw as we drove through the gorge.
At the gorge we found several spiked of the beautiful Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis olbiensis) along with the large flowered Buttercup which I am still trying to put a name to and several Broad leaved Iris (lirio de invierno / Iris planifolia).Our next and final stop was at the head of the Libar valley where Sue and Eva showed me several clumps of the uncommon Narcissus cuatrecasasii which was flowering on the crags but luckily there were several plants lower down as well. 
Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) spawn.
In the same area we had views of Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and heard Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia).
Other wildflowers included Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus) and Intermediate Periwinkle (Vinca difformis). After taking the photo's we said goodbye to Eva who walked back down the road to the village and the rest of us headed off back to the house.