Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Irati woods, Achar de Alano and travelling, Hecho, Pyrenees.

A bit of a wash out but we still saw some good species.
Deb and Renate Day Twelve.


We got up at normal time and headed out for the most distant spot we were going to visit over in Navarra at Irati where we were looking for Woodpecker species including Black  (Picamaderos Negro / Dryocopus martius) and White-backed Woodpeckers (Pico Dorsiblanco / Dendrocopos leucotos). We drove across trying really hard not to stop every five minutes to lookat something interesting on the roadside but as the journey went on the weather got worse and the temprature dropped quickly getting down to just +1 as we passed over a ridge just before the woodlands. On the way we did see Lady (Orchis purpurea), Pyramidal (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia) and Greater Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera chlorantha), Red (Milano Real / Milvus milvus) and Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and in the sleet and rain as we crossed a ridge near to Irati a surprise in the shape of a Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) which was running along the road.
Once we were in the woods we started the search but the heavy drizzle did not make things easy and we dipped on the Woodpeckers but we did see Goldcrest (Reyezuelo Sencillo / Regulus regulus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blue  (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Crested  (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Common (Agateador Norteño / Certhia familiaris) and Short-toed Treecreepers (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and in the less wooded areas as we approached the ridge a pair of Bullfinches (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula) which flashed across the road. In the woods we also had a few wild flowers including the smart looking Purple Toothwort (Lathraea clandestina).
Up on the ridge we had views of a couple of very damp looking Water Pipits (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) and a male Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and as we dropped down the other side we checked out a scrubby slope and a grassland area adding Monkey (Orchis simia), Green-winged (Androrchis morio), Tounge (Serapias lingua), Burnt (Neotinea Ustulata) and Lange's Orchids (Androrchis langei) to the list along with Red-backed Shrike (Alcaudón Dorsirrojo / Lanius collurio), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus). As we got into the valley and were approching the site we had a small group of Alpine (Chova Piquigualda / Pyrrhocorax graculus) and Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), a dozen or more Citril Finches (Verderón Serrano / Serinus citrinella) and Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus).
We drove through the rain to a car park in the middle of nowhere below the very impressive looking Sierra de Alano where we had our first view of the large gap in the ridge called Achar de Alano way way above us which was our target spot. The three of us set off on the track and took the shorter route up on the dirt tracks and ignored the main vehicle track. On the way we saw several Citril Finches, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citrinella), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), 1000s of Elder-flowered Orchids (Dactylorhiza sambucina) as well as Cowslip (Primula veris), Large-flowered Butterwort (Pinguicula grandiflora), Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella alpina), Daphne mezereum and many more. Once we were out on the slopes we continued to climb, I was starting to fell the climb in my legs and lungs and was struggling not to be embarrassed by having 80 year old Renate over taking me on several occasions. Eventually we reached the lower parts of the scree and quickly found the first of several Alpine Accentors (Acentor Alpino / Prunella modularis), more Alpine Choughs and then a stunning Wallcreeper (Treparriscos / Tichodroma muraria) which gave us nice views as it moved around amongst the larger bolders on the bottom of the scree. As were watching this superb bird the weather then came back to remind us it was not yet summer in the pyrenees, the rain soon turned to sleet which soon turned into a full blown blizzard of snow, so we decided to end our attempt of making it to the ridge and started down the hill. We eventually reached the car again and made our way slowly back to the hotel calling in at a spot on the road side to photographs a nice looking Lady Orchid and at the same spot we found our only spikes of both Fly (Ophrys insectifera) and Man Orchids (Orchis anthropophora).

Photographs from the top: Purple Toothwort (Lathraea clandestina), 2x Monkey Orchids (Orchis simia), Burnt Orchid (Neotinea Ustulata), Renate during the climb, Sierra de Alano, Deb in the snow, Sierra de Alano, Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella alpina), Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera) and Man Orchid (Orchis anthropophora).

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