Saturday 31 May 2014

Jimena del la Frontera, Cadiz Province.

 Day one of the big Dragonfly hunt with Steve Jones from the UK.

Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii).
Today actually started yesterday when I picked Steve Jones up from Malaga airport just after 23:00 and we drove down to Jimena, by the time we got there it was well into today and we settled down to try and get some sleep roughing it in the car. This did not happen, with the traffic and people walking around at all hours we were woken up regularly, so at 06:30 we got kitted up and started what I had thought from descriptions give would be a hard slog out to the site. 
Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii).
I was pleased that it had been made to sound much harder that it was and we were soon at the spot we needed to be, on the way we heard a fantastic chorus of song which included many Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and as we reached the spot one of a good number of Iberian Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Ibérico / Phylloscopus brehmii) was calling loudly.
Summer Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes aestivalis).
We had a good search around the bushes and trees in the very very out side chance of finding one of the target Splendid Cruisers (Macromia splendens) hanging from the vegetaion before having a chance to warm up enough to fly. We did see a single Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) and a female Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) during this first search.
Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba).
Whilst down in a small opening in the river between all of the Oleander (Nerium oleander) bushes I found just two spikes of the uncommon Summer Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes aestivalis) which I was very pleased with as it was only the second site I had found them at. Steve continued searching the bushes and trees on the far side of the river and I checked out a couple of clearings on the original side and then made my way down to a pool at the far end of the main area. 
Unnamed Beetle.
After some time I picked up a smallish dragon moving along the far bank which I soon worked out was a very smart male Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) and was the first of around half a dozen seen during the day. Whilst I was enjoying the Emerald another larger insect flashed through my bins and even though I had never seen one before I instantly knew it was out target species the Splendid Cruiser, I quickly relocated it and confirmed my first thoughts as well as identifying it as a male. This magnificent insect then continued to fly from one end of this pool to the other for the next 6 hours, it disappeared for a few minutes every now and then but never landed as far as we could tell which was hellishly frustrating when you want to get some photographs but it was such a privilege just to see this extremely rare dragon (thanks Steve).
Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens).
We both tried and Steve succeded in getting some flight photographs of the Cruiser, I did rather better with the Emeralds but only managed a dodgy shot of the Cruiser
At times we both went and checked out the clearings when the insect disappeared and during the walks we added Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Orphean (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Subalpine (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) and Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) to the bird list.
Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus).
Once it warmed up a bit Butterflies started to fly and they included False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Small (Artogeia rapae) and Large White (Pieris brassicae), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) and Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera). Back at the main pool and in the clearings we also saw a good number of other dragon and damselfly species which included Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), both Large (Onychogomphus uncatus) and Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus), Pronged (Gomphus graslinii) and Western Clubtails (Gomphus pulchellus), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi) and Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma).
Large Pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus).
Late on in the afternoon the Cruiser disappeared as did most of the insects so we decided to make our way back during this walk we found a couple of Darter type Dragons which looked as though they may be teneral Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale) but still need to confirm this, however we did have a couple of definate Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) and a very fresh Large Pincertail
Other species seen during the day along the river included Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) and Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto). 
Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) caterpillar.
Once back at the car we went and checked another area al little up stream which we had crossed on the way in last night, here we only added White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) to the dragon list but also saw White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). After last nights bad attempt at roughing it in the car we decided to book into a bungerlow on a camp site just out side the town, on the way there we saw a couple of Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and a group of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). We checked in at the site and dropped the kit off before photographing a Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) caterpillar on the wall of the cabin and then went and had an evening meal in Jimena.

Monday 26 May 2014

El Purche and Old Road to Guejar- Sierra, Granada Province.

A day practising with the new lens with mixed results.

Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri).
I dropped Jayne off for a mornings retail therapy in the city and headed up to the woodlands around the road out to El Purche and along the old road to Guejar-sierra.
Fragrant Bug Orchid (Orchis coriophora subsp fragrans).
I parked on the roadside and walked a track out in to anarea of open pine woodlands, on the way I either saw or heard Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).
There were also quite a few wildflowers along the way including Berberis vulgaris, Small Pink Cistus (Cistus crispus), Spanish Rusty Foxglove (Digitalis obscura), Galactites tomentosa, White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), Iberis pectinata, Large Blue Flax (Linum narbonense), Onosma tricerosperma ssp granatensis, Paeonia coriacea, Polygala boissieri, Salvia lavandulifolia and a few spikes of Fragrant Bug Orchid (Orchis coriophora subsp fragrans).
Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum).
Butterflies and Moths were also present and included Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi), Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Knapweed (Melitaea phoebe) and Marsh Fritillaries (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri) and Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum).
From here I continued on up the hill for a while then dropped back down on the old road to Guejar-sierra calling at a few spots on the way, the first was an open roadside grassland area where I quickly found several more new species of butterfly for the day list including Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Mallow / False Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae / tripolinus), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Satyrium spini), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) plus quite a few more Marsh Fritillaries.
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri).
Birds were quiet but I did add Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
Around the plants and amongst the scrub I had several Carpentor Bees (Xylocopa violacea), Hornet (Vespa crabro) and a very nice male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) which was hunting well away from any water.
Small-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis microphylla).
Again I dropped down the road and made a second stop at a roadside stream and water hole, in the ditch I found several spikes of yet to flower Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata) and a little further down the hill both Small-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis microphylla) and Epipactis fageticola which were no where near ready to bloom.
On a dead spike in a hedgerow I had a very nice male Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) and several more species of butterfly in the same area including Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) and Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).
I stopped just a short way down the next hill and found several spikes of over with Barton's Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis) as well as Water Avens (Geum rivale), Southern Polypody (Polypodium cambricum), Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Little Robin (Geranium Purpureum), White Bryany (Bryonia cretica), Rush Loosestrife (Lythrum junceum) and two day flying moths the Latticed Heath (Chiasmia clathrata) and Synaphe Moldavica.
I then dropped right down to the Rio Genil and checked out a track that I have seen some nice species on before, almost as soon as I got out of the car I started to see Marsh Fritillaries and by the time I had finished I must have seen a couple of hundred.
Small White (Artogeia rapae).
I walked down to and crossed the river and up a track on the far side, during this walk I added Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis) and Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) to the bird list and Marbled (Carcharodus lavatherae) and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Cardinal  (Pandora / argynnis Pandora) and Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia) to the butterfly list. 
 Along the track side I also saw a hanging clump of Dianthus lusitanus.
Dianthus lusitanus.
I then had a quick look on the meadows near the bars just below where I was parked but only added Small White (Artogeia rapae), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) and Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines) to the list before going and having lunch with Jayne down in the city.