Friday 15 August 2014

Guadix area, Granada Province.

An almost dragon free day, almost !!

Alcazaba de Guadix.
Jayne, Lynn, Steve and I headed west to Guadix where we were going to have a look around the cave houses and town. We arrived and weaved our way up to the hieghest part of the town and parked near the Church and had a look from the viewpoint before having a look in the church.
One of the many Chimneys aove the town.
A little later we all had a ride on the mini train down through the town to the Cathedral and the main square which was the high light of the day for Jayne. We later caught the train back up to the top and headed out of town to Purullena to have a look around the ceramic shops. 
Cave houses in Guadix.
Next we headed back west a short way out in to a rather desolate dry area of fields where we were hoping to find a late staying Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) but we were out of luck. We did however catch up with Black (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black-eared (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) and Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and three or four very nice and unexpected Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger) dragonflies which were cruising up and down the edge of a Walnut plantation. From here we headed back home via Granada.
Jayne and Lynn coming out of a Cave house.

Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax).

Thursday 14 August 2014

Laguna Chica / Grande, Malaga Province.

A morning with the Trabuco Ladies group and an afternoon Dragon hunting.

Male Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra).
I started the day off by giving a wildlife talk to the Ladies group in Trabuco about species found in Malaga Province. The talk went well and after dropping Jayne off at the afternoon craft group I headed to Laguna Chica to meet up with Steve and Lynn who had been there for a while but had not see a great deal. Steve commented that there were far fewer dragons than a few days earlier so we did not cover Laguna Chica again but continued on along a track to Laguna Grande.
Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii).
On the way we picked up Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) and Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum). 
Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata).
Birds seen included Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki). 
White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes).
We also saw a few butterfly species as we walked the margins of Laguna Chica and even more as we passed through the woods and scrub on the way over to Laguna Grande, these included Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) and Great Banded Grayling (Rey Moro / Kanetisa circe).
European Mantis (Mantis religiosa).
Steve spotted a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) feeding on the ground and in the lower branches of a large broom bush, we also added Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) to the bird list before we reached the second pool. We dropped straight down to the water but found that the margins were full 
Wasp Spider (Arana Tigre / Argiope bruennichi).
of high juncus clump at this point and which made getting to the water difficult. However we did see a quite amazing sight, a European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) which was chewing the head off a young Large Psammodromus (Lagartija colilarga / Psammodromus algirus). It looked a bit gruesome but very interesting. We also found quite a few Wasp Spiders (Arana Tigre / Argiope bruennichi) in the same patch of Juncus before working our way back up the bank to the Oaks and around to the far side of the pool to a clearer area of shoreline. On the way we saw several Purple Hairstreaks (Quercusia Quercus) flashing around the lower branches and watched a male Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis) picking small catapillar´s off the leaves.
Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi).
Once we were back on the water side we started to see dragons again but all very much the same species as we had already seen at Chica but then I found a nice male Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) which was our main target species for the day, Steve got some shots but then it flew out into the lake and perched on a dead stick in some quite deep water. The only option was to start to wade out to it but just as I got in close it flew to the next stick and I started to think that I might have waded up above my waste for nothing but when I reached the next stick the little beauty sat nicely and allowed me to get some nice shot. I made my way back to the shore and Steve took a few more shot. Out on the pool the only new species seen was Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus). I left Steve and Lynn at laguna Grande and walked back to the car and went to pick Jayne up from Trabuco and then met Steve and Lynn back at the house later.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Malaga Rivers, Malaga Province.

Another day out and about with Steve while the girls were shopping.

Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma).
Jayne, Lynn, Steve and I headed off down to Malaga where Jayne and Lynn were going to spend the day having a wander around the city whilst Steve and I were checking out some of the rivers to the North. Our first stop was on a short stretch of river which we had visited last year and had great success at but things had changed, the flow of water was reduced and there was a lot more marginal vegetation. We spent quite a while searching the area and saw good numbers of Scarlet Darters (Crocothemis erythraea), Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), a couple of Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus), Iberian Blue-tails (Ischnura graellsii), Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) and a new species for the site for me a Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii).
Bee Species.
All the time we were at the site we could hear the rattling of a flock of Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) along with Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).
After a couple hours Steve was down river a bit and I had moved slightly further upstream again to where we had seen some good species last year when a male Ringed Cascader (Zygonyx torridus) flew in and did two passes infront of me before heading off down stream in pursuit of a female and was not seen again.
Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea).
A while later we decided to head slightly further north to the Guadalhorce near Pizarra, we walked down stream to a fast flowing section and quickly found our second Cascader of the day which was patrolling a short section of rapids but access was difficult so we moved across the rapids and made our way down stream on the calmer western bank. Along here we saw Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus), Scarlet Darters, Orange-winged Dropwing, Epaulet Skimmers, Blue-eye (Erythromma lindenii) and Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum). We eventually found a gap in the tamarisks through to where the Cascader was patrolling and managed to get superb views and Steve managed a few flight shots.
Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii).
Our last stop of the day was at the junction between the largely dried up Rio Grande and the Rio Guadalhorce where we just had the time for a quick look along the short shallow arm of the Grande, we had good views of most of the species we had already seen and added Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria), White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) and Small Red-eye (Erythromma viridulum) to the dragon list and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Western Cattle  (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) to the bird list before picking the girls up in Malaga and heading home.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Rio Turón, Ardales, Malaga Province.

Up to our bits and beyond !!

Me in the river.
Jayne and Lynn were having a day in the local town of Huétor Tajar and then a chill back at the house whist Steve and I headed off west again. This time we started the day at a site near Ardales on the Rio Turón where earlier in the year Steve and I had seen both Yellow Clubtail (Gomphus simillimus) and Western Demoiselle (Calopteryx xanthostoma) for the first time but neither of us had got great shots of the Clubtail and needed to see a male Demoiselle.
Female Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis).
We arrived at the spot and started to look around the shallow stretch of river and soon located several Copper Demoiselles (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) and a couple of Small Pincertails (Onychogomphus forcipatus).
Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus).
Birds seen and heard in this first spot included Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti).
Steve wading.
A little way along the track on the far side of the river we saw White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). We checked the deeper water upstream and found several more Iberian Blue-tails, a female Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii) and a male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator). 
Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi).
We continued to check the area but did not find either of the two target species so we checked another area nearby which we had spotted on the drive in. We parked and straight away we saw good numbers of Violet (Trithemis annulata) and Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum), Lesser (Anax parthenope) and Blue / Common Emperor, Small Pincertails, Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly.
Western Spectre (Boyeria Irene).
After a while I pushed through a short hedge of Tamarisks and came out into what I can only describe as a secret garden for Dragons and as soon as I was through the bushes I located loads of Small Pincertails, more Orange-winged Dropwings, Scarlet Darter, Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens), 2 or 3 Western Spectre (Boyeria Irene) and a single male Ringed Cascader (Zygonyx torridus) which flew up and down the river for a while before disappearing some where. In this area we also recorded Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). 
tandem White Featherlegs (Platycnemis latipes).
Mid afternnon had arrived so we decided to head back towards home but made a last minute detour to Fuente de Piedra to have a look at the dried out pools along the entrance road, the pools had dried out much earlier in the season so we did not really expect to find much. We checked the track side clumps of clubrush and were pleased to find several Small Spreadwings (Lestes virens), Red-veined Darter and good numbers of Keeled Skimmers.
Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii).
The main reserve was almost completely dry with just a short slither of water in the North east corner which held a hundred or so Greater Flamingo´s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and a Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna). 
From here we headed back to see the girls at home.

Monday 11 August 2014

Sierra Huétor, Granada Province.

A new species of Dragon for my Spanish list and three new one for Steve´s list as well.

Common Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica).
Lynn, Steve and I headed off west up the A92 passed Granada and in to the fabulous Sierra Huétor to the north of the Sierra Nevada. We parked and spent the next few hours checking out just a KM or so of fast flowing river. The area is in a wooded valley with some good open grassland areas for butterflies.
Male Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo subsp meridionalis).
We started to see good numbers of butterflies straight away including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Striped Grayling (Pseudotergumia fidia), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Great Banded Grayling (Rey Moro / Kanetisa circe), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis) and Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli).
Female Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo subsp meridionalis).
Steve picked up the first of the bird species when a group of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) started feeding around the nearby crags, we also sawand heard Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti).
High Brown (Fabriciana adippe).
Once we were down by the river we found a female Large Pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus) up on the grass just away from the water, down under the tree in the fast water we found Common Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii subsp algirica) which was the first new species for Steve´s Spanish list. We moved along the river slowly and eventually we found the first of several Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo subsp meridionalis) which were a couple of males and just a little further on we located a nice group of both males and females sitting on juncus spikes.
Viperine Snake (Culebra Viperina / Natrix maura).
Seveveal Common Golden Rings flew passed us both ways along the river and on the grassy banks around us we saw High Brown (Fabriciana adippe), Cardinal (Argynnis Pandora) and Queen of Spain Fritillaries (Issoria lathonia), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Spanish Chalk-hill Blue (Polyommatus albicans), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and under the trees a single Wood White (Leptidea sinapis). Steve and Lynn stayed in this spot for a while and I continued on up stream for a while where I had nice views of a Viperine Snake (Culebra Viperina / Natrix maura) which appeared to be catching pond skater.
Bridge Spider (Larinioides sclopetarius).
I also picked up a ne species for my Granada Province Dragon list in the shape of two Western Spectre´s (Boyeria Irene) and what I think is Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) which would actually be a new species for my Spanish Butterfly list. All along this stretch of river we were finding the Bridge Spider (Larinioides sclopetarius) with their large webs strung between patches of juncus and the trees. After a while Steve and Lynn caught me up and we spent some time watching the Spectre´s and Goldenrings before starting to return along the drier route through the Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) scrub.
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio).
Just as we were about to leave the river said he had an Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) which was the first of this species for the day but with in a couple of seconds he had changed his mine and had identified the insect as the much rarer Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio) which was a new species for both our Spanish lists, a very nice find. on the walk back we added Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) to the bird list along with Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Dusky Heath (Ninfa de Esper / Coenonympha dorus), Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) to the insect list.
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus).
We reached the car and could not believe that we had walked just 500m and seen so much at a fantastic spot.