Sunday, 24 May 2015

Old road Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

A cloudy day looking for Butterflies with Mette and Bent from Denmark.

I headed up to the City where I met up with Mette and Bent, we were going to cover the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada looking for Butterfly species and sods law it was the first cloudy day in weeks.  we started of with a short walk in the pine woods at the begining of the road out to El Porche seeing a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Mountain Peony (Paeonia coriacea), Polygala boissieri, Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and Chimney Sweeper Moth (Odezia atrata). We continued on and turned off down the old road going back down the hill towards Güejar Sierra, our first stop was at an area of grassland amongst the surrounding Pine woods. We searched the area but as it was still cloudy and cool we did see any butterflies but added Lizard Orchid (Himantoglosum hircinum), Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus), Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis) and Drab Looper Moth (Minoa murinata). Again we dropped down the road stopping a couple of times before we reached the bottom of the valley picking up Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus). 
Just above the river we stopped again after seeing a couple of buterflies of some roadside Hawkweed flowers, these turned out to be Marsh Fritillaries (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri) one of the species Bent had particularly wanted to see. In the area we found a couple of dozen adults at least and large numbers of Larve feeding on the surrounding plants. Again we dropped downwards and stopped by the river where we checked an area where I have seen large numbers of insects coming down to take minerals but today it was quiet but we did still find a nice fresh looking Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia), more Marsh Fritillaries, Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Southern Blue (Polyommatus celina), a couple of Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus boeticus) and a fine Fiery Clearwing (Pryopteron chrysidiformis).
Next we dropped down the road a short way to another track which took us down to the Rio Genil where we had Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea).
Birds in the area included a Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). 
We finished in the mountains and dropped back down past the City and out towards La malaha stopping at a semi abandoned Cortijo where we watched several Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). 
We moved on tothe fields between La Malaha and Ventas de Huelma adding a nice soaring Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos). Out on the fields one of the first birds was a second Golden Eagle followed by Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). The rest of the afternoon was spent on the road between Ventas and Cacin where we picked up the third Golden Eagle of the day and more Booted Eagles, Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon). We made our way back to the City and I dropped Bent and Mette back near their accommodation before heading back home. It was a butterfliy day but due to the weather we struggled but things went well generally and Bent has now booked to come back for a few days in July which should produce a few more species.

Photographs from the top: 3x Marsh Fritillaries (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri) adult upperwing / underwing and Lavae, Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia), Fiery Clearwing (Pryopteron chrysidiformis), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon).

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