Saturday 9 August 2014

Straits of Gibraltar, Cadiz Province.

A day out on the Straits whale watching and some Dragons later.

Long-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas).
After breakfast we dropped Jayne down at the Gib crossing and headed for Tarifa where we were hoping to head out to sea Whale watching, we arrived and found the offices of one of the companies. We booked to go out on one of their 3 hour trips which leaves the port at 11:00, we made our way down to the port from the office and were given a briefing in the port office before we were taken down to the boat.
Long-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas).
Around the port there were quite a few Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) which were by joined by Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and a single Cory's Shearwater (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) once we were out to sea. We cruised for about three quarters of an our towards the coast of Morocco until we came into a pod of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) which showed all around the boat for ages giving very nice views of both adults and youngsters.
Long-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas).
The Dolphins moved off and were replaced by several Long-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas) which again performed very well right along side the boat. I enjoyed what we saw but feel we spent too long watching these two species and did not look for other whales in the area.
Immature Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
Once we were back on dry land we when to a spot just opposite one of the Raptor watch points where we parked and had our lunch whilst looking for early passage birds but we only managed to see a dozen or so Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), a single Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and a few resident Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) so we decided to head back to the field where we had seen the Green Hooktails (Paragomphus genei) yesterday. We arrived but it was dam hot and the dragons were even harder to find than yesterday but I managed to locate a male and two females but none were happy to be photographed, in the same area there were several Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and a few White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes).
Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis).
After a while we abandoned the field and went down on to the river, on the way we saw a European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) on the track. Down by the river we had more White Featherlegs, Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), Orange-winged (Trithemis kirbyi) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and a Monarch (Danaus plexippus).
Once we had finished here we headed off to pick up Jayne and then we made our way back along the coast and then home.

Friday 8 August 2014

Straits of Gibraltar, Cadiz Province.

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

Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
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.
Fernando and Steve.
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).
Male Green Hooktail (Paragomphus genei).
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.
Female Green Hooktail (Paragomphus genei).
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).
Banded Grondling (Brachythemis leucosticta) female.

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 (Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). 
Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii) male.
Once we were both happy with the photographs of the Hooktail Fernando took 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
Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria) Male.
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
Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) Male.
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. 
Argiope lobata.
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.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Laguna Chica and Salina´s, Malaga Province.

The first days dragonfly hunting with Steve and Lynn Jones from Cornwall.

Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra).
Steve, Lynn and I headed over to Laguna Chica where we were hoping to find the uncommon Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) which would be a new species for his Spanish list.
Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra).
We arrived and parked under a large Oak tree above the lake where we could see and hear Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi) Male.
We walked down to the lake side where we quickly started to find dragons including Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum), Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and with in 10 mnutes an immature female Black Pennant which had emerged quite recently. Along a shortish length of shore we found at least another two Pennants, all of which were immature females.
Common Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fusca).
In the same area we found a nice immature Small Spreadwing (Lestes virens), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope) and Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum).
Common Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fusca).
On the water I picked up Little  (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and in the air above the pool Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum).
We continued on around the pool margin to the ruin where we found at least 4 Common Winter Damselflies (Sympecma fusca) in the shade of the walls. Further on we had good views of most of the species we saw in the first half of the walk but we also saw Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and a very smart Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus). 
Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) Male.
On the way back we picked up two of the same Black Pennants, Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and right back at the car a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta).
After having something to eat we headed to a small pool and some ditches near Salinas, on the pool we had  Blue / Common Emperor, Scarlet Darter, Epaulet Skimmer, Orange-winged Dropwing and on the narrow ditches which run along the field edges we found Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens), Mercury Bluet's (Coenagrion mercuriale), White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) and several Viperine Snakes (Culebra Viperina / Natrix maura) and Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi).