Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hacho, Moraleda area, Western side of Sierra de Loja and Sierra de Loja Quarry, Granada Province.

A days Orchid hunting with Steve ans Sue from the UK.

The Ladies were having a rest day but there is no rest for the busy and I was out for a days Orchid hunting with Sue and Steve who were on holiday from Bristol in the Uk. We started by meeting on the side of the road below Hacho and took a walk along the track to the rear of the hill where we soon found Conical (Orchis conica), Yellow Bee (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea), Giant  (Himantoglossum robertiana), Fan-lipped (Orchis conica), several spikes of  Southern Early Purple Orchids (Chupaeros / Orchis olbiensis) and just as we got back to the car we saw a couple of none flowering spikes of Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) which were a good way from flowering.
We moved on to a spot near to Moraleda where I had found a few spikes of the locally rare Dark Spider Orchid (Ophrys incubacea) a few days earlier, we again found the three original spikes with half a dozen spikes of Ophrys forestieri. We then went to another nearby spot and found 40 more spike which had been located by friend Juan Pérez Contreras a couple of days earlier. In the same area we had more Yellow Bees, Fan-lipped and Mirror Orchids (Ophrys speculum subsp speculum). Birds in this area included Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and a calling Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which remained out of sight. We moved up on to the fields and stopped in an area of abandoned Almonds and photographed a flowering Pink Butterfly Orchid which was growing amongst several Mirror Orchids and a very bright Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus). We could hear Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) calling in a nearby grove, in the same area we also had Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica).
We headed back down to the motorway and then took the road which runs down the western side of the hill and stopped at a spot just out side of Venta del Raya where we had stunning views of at least 5 male and 4 female Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) which gave us fantastic views as they displayed over a large crop field.
Our next stop was in amongst some road side oaks where we had our lunch and then searched the woods for Orchids finding more Conical Orchids, Southern Early PurpleSword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and a couple of still good condition Giant Orchids. We moved on again a little further down the road to another spot amongst an abandoned Almond grove where we saw more plants of the above orchids
 with a stunning patch of Pink Butterfly Orchids.
We retraced our steps back up through the Valley seeing Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) on the way. We took the track up the Sierra to the small lower Quarry where we parked and checked out the Gorse covered slopes and found Small Early Purple, Sawfly Orchid (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera), Man Orchid (Orchis anthropophora), Conical and Mirror Orchids.
In the same area we also had a good number of Southern Wild Tulips (Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis), Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus), Viola dementria, Gynandriris sisyrinchium (Barbary Nut), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), Common Asphodel (Asphodelus albus) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Once we had finished here we headed back to the meeting point where we went our own ways after a very successful day.
Photographs from the top: Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea), Sue and Steve, Southern Early Purple Orchid (Chupaeros / Orchis olbiensis), Conical Orchid (Orchis conica), Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea), Dark Spider Orchid (Ophrys incubacea), Viola dementria, Man Orchid (Orchis anthropophora) and Gynandriris sisyrinchium (Barbary Nut).





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