Monday, 18 May 2015

Woods North of Siresa and Refugio de Gabardito, Aragón, Pyrenees.

Our first day in the mountains above the Hecho Valley.
Deb and Renate Day Ten.

We got up and went down for a nice breakfast before heading north along the road from Hecho towards the head of the valley a good few KM further on but did not get very far before we stopped in a small lay by to photograph the stunning blue Wild Aquilegia's (Aquilegia vulgaris) which was growing commonly in the woods. We also found a couple of spikes of Lesser Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera bifolia), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia), Bastard Balm (Melittis melissophyllum), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone),  Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Bonelli's (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Small White (Artogeia rapae). Just a short way up the road again an we turned off on to the road up to the Refugio and parked on the side on the grass to check another specie of Orchid, this time the Green-winged Orchid (Androrchis morio) the Northern counterpart to our Androrchis olbensis. In the same area we had very nice views of a male Red-backed Shrike (Alcaudón Dorsirrojo / Lanius collurio) which watched us from a nearby Hawthorn bush and had very distant views of an adult Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture (Quebrantahuesos / Gypaetus barbatus) as it flew along a distant high ridge along with a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus). We again continued on up the hill stopping again to look at several spikes of Langes Orchid (Androrchis langei). Once we were at the car park we followed a largish group out towards a rock face a couple of KM away but soon lost them as we were soon at work with the cameras on the many wildflowers on the track side. These included Alpine Gentian (Gentiana alpina), Spring Gentian (Gentiana verna), the first of hundreds of Elder-flowered Orchids (Dactylorhiza sambucina), Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis), Cowslip (Primula veris), Oxslip (Primula elatior) and Pyrenean Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium ssp. pyrenaica).
After a while we turned a corner and came across the group who had headed off ahead of us, most of who were watching a large chimney of rock looking for the Wallcreeper (Treparriscos / Tichodroma muraria) and after just a few minutes we were watching two birds clinging to the side of the large slab of rock. They flew in to the cliff several times passing over our heads each time giving us really nice views and whilst we were watching these little beauties a second Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture (Quebrantahuesos / Gypaetus barbatus) came in along a nearby ridge along with good numbers of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) some carrying nest matterial and a soaring Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos). In the same area we heard Black Woodpecker (Picamaderos Negro / Dryocopus martius), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and a barking Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus). 
The group headed back down the hill but we decided to carry on up the hill and we were soon seeing both yellow and red variates of the Elder-flowered in large numbers and Pale-flowered Orchid (Orchis pallens), Rock Soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides), Rock Jasmine (Androsace villosa) and Creeping Globularia (Globularia repens).
In the bushes near a mountain stream I heard a couple of singing Dunnocks (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis) along with Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus).
We reached the bottom of the waterfall where I left my scope at the bottom of the slope before we checked out the rockery above us, there were loads of Elder-flowered Orchids and many other species, half way up the slope I decided that I would have to drop back down to the scope but Deb and Renate carried on to the top of the slope and out on to the Alpine meadows above. After a while they returned after seeing a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and we had very nice views of a male Citril Finches (Verderón Serrano / Serinus citrinella) next to the stream. We started to drop down the track towards the car adding Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Common Treecreeper (Agateador Norteño / Certhia familiaris), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and once back at the car we had another small group of Citril Finches which were feeding around the car park. After getting some nice views of these birds we dropped back down towards the road in the bottom of the valley, during the drive we had a Black Woodpecker flash across the road and away amongst the trees not to be seen again, whilst we were searching for this bird we picked up Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris).
From this spot we headed back down to Hecho and had a couple of coffees to top up the cafine levels, whilst we were sat out side we had nice views of a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
After the drink we drove back up the valley to Boca del Infierno and straight away we found several spikes of the stunning Pyrenean Saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia) flowering on the main cliffs with Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus) plus several more species which still need names and a couple of Marsh Fritillaries (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri). We also had views of another Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture which flew over head, Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus).

Photgraphs from the top: Wild Aquilegia's (Aquilegia vulgaris), Red-backed Shrike (Alcaudón Dorsirrojo / Lanius collurio), Wallcreeper (Treparriscos / Tichodroma muraria), Alpine Gentian (Gentiana alpina), Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis), Spring Gentian (Gentiana verna), Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture (Quebrantahuesos / Gypaetus barbatus), Pyrenean Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium ssp. pyrenaica), Pale-flowered Orchid (Orchis pallens), Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus), 2x Elder-flowered Orchids (Dactylorhiza sambucina), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Globularia punctata and 2x Pyrenean Saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia).


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