Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Hecho Valley, Jaca and Tena Valley, Formigal, Portalet and road to Urdués, Pyrenees.

Another Spanish lifer for us all and along with plentiful orhcids and wildflowers.
Deb and Renate Day Eleven.

After breakfast we hit the road at 08:30 and just out side whilst loading the car we had the usual Red Kites (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
We dropped down the valley through Hecho and just before we hit the main Jaca road I caught a glimpse of a small raptor sat on the wires at the same moment as Deb did. Almost instantly even though I had just a seconds view I knew we had got a male Red-footed Falcon (Cernícalo Patirrojo / Falco vespertinus) so we turned around at the first opportunity and pulled up on the road just opposite it behind another birder who must have seen it seconds before us. The bird showed well on the wire and we got some nice shot so we moved on but only made it 100 meters up the road to where we found a second male also sat on the same wires. We again spent a while getting shots before continuing our journey and just before Jaca we made another stop when I saw several orchids growing on the roadside that looked a bit different from what we had seen so far. We parked and walked back a short way to find several stunning spikes of Military Orchid (Orchis militaris) along with several Lady Orchids (Orchis purpurea) and some spikes of Ophrys Riojana.
After passing through Jaca the brakes went on again when we spotted another falcon on the wires but this time it was a fine looking female Red-footed. We parked and walked back as the road was much busier than where the first birds had been but by the time we reached the spot the bird had moved on. We did get some nice views of several Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Red Kites but no photo's of the female and during the rest of the drive we also saw Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
We took the road heading up in to the hills again and managed to keep going except for a coffee stop all the way up to a spot near the Embalse de Lanuxa when we again saw several tall purple Orchid plants on the roadside which I had thought were going to be a Dactylorhiza species but after looking at the shots they were identified as Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula). Again we headed higher up the hill and spent some time searching the fields in the area looking for more orchids, we saw thousands of the beautiful Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) in both yellow and red forms but nothing else. Birds included Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Green (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citrinella), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis), Red-backed Shrike (Alcaudón Dorsirrojo / Lanius collurio) and Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula).
We finished the drive with a coffee in the town nearby before starting on up the hill again but we did not get very far before we swung into a parking place and a minute or so later we were looking at a magnificent clump of Lady's Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium calceolus) these plants were one of the main reasons for todays trip and after being told by a local lady that we were to early we were over the moon to find this group and quite a few other single spikes. In the same area we found a few heads of the pretty Bird's-eye Primrose (Primula farinosa) and a lot more Elder-flowered Orchids
Again we continued on up hill but as usual it was just a few Km before we were stopped again this time watching a pair of Lammergeiers / Bearded Vultures (Quebrantahuesos / Gypaetus barbatus) over the town of Formigal and on the opposite side of the road amongst the skiing junk we also had a small group of feeding Alpine Chough (Chova Piquigualda / Pyrrhocorax graculus) and several Red-billed (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). At this point the weather took a turn for the worst but this did not stop us and just a short way up the hill we came across a very interesting wet flush which had a nice display of the uncommon in Spain Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), Alpine Bartsia (Bartsia alpina), Horned Pansy (Viola cornuta), Large-flowered Butterwort (Pinguicula grandiflora), Globeflower (Trollius europaeus), Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) and Broad-leaved Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza majarlis).
Further up the mountain right on the Spain / France border we parked gain and searched a nearby hill side in the rain and soon started to see new species including Dragonmouth (Horminum pyrenaicum), Pyrenean Fritillary (Fritillaria pyrenaica), Anemone narcissiflora
and loads more species that still need names.
We also saw Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Alpine Chough, Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
We decided after searching the slope for a while that the weather was not going to get any better so we started the drive back towards the Hecho Valley, on the way we stopped to watch a very fat looking Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota). We dropped down and past Jaca and then North back up the Hecho Valley until we reached the turning to Urdués where we decided as we were back a little earlier due to the weather to have a look. After a short drive we parked by some tall cliffs and checked the crags and 
surrounding woodlands, added Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and in the woods nearby there were several spikes of Greater Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera chlorantha), European Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), Yellow-flowered Onion (Allium coryi), Thyme Broomrape (Orobanche alba), Thalictrum tuberosum, Shrubby Restharrow (Ononis fruticosa) and a Sticky Catchfly type plant.
We continued on along this narrow road seeing Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Small Woodcock Orchid (Orquídea abejera becada / Ophrys picta) and Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera). We later returned to the hotel and another nice evening meal before turning in.

Photographs from the top: 2x male Red-footed Falcons (Cernícalo Patirrojo / Falco vespertinus), 2x Military Orchids (Orchis militaris), Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea), 3x Lady's Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium calceolus), Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula), Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota), Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina), Broad-leaved Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza majarlis), Pyrenean Fritillary (Fritillaria pyrenaica) and 3 plants needing names.

2 comments:

Bas said...

prachtig wat een natuur dit is subliem.

LojaWldlife said...

Dank u Ik ben op het punt om een tweede reis naar de te beginnen met een lange rit naar Barcelona morgen te maken.