Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Gabardito, Hecho Valley, Huesca Province.

Wallcreeper day, one of the most wanted species amongst the group (No pressure).
Granada Wildlife Pyrenees Tour Day Five.

After another good breakfast we made our way the short distance to the road up to the Refugio Gabardito, on the way we saw the usual species including Red (Milano Real / Milvus milvus) and Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and on our way up the winding single track road we had views of and heard Bullfinch (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea). 
We parked at the refugio and sorted all the kit before starting the relativaly short walk out to the spot or the target species which took us through some stunning Beech (Fagus sylvatica) woodland with several speices of conifer sprinkled in amongst these stately trees. Just after starting the walk we were stopped by the unmistakable calls of a Black Woodpecker (Picamaderos Negro / Dryocopus martius) in the canopy just ahead of us but as hard as we all searched we could not find the bird and had to be happy with a brief flight view as the bird slipped away down the slope through the trees. We continued on and soon found several groups of Common Wintergreens (Pyrola minor) and White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) the first of several new orchids species for the trip which was quickly followed by Bird's-nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) and Dark-red Helleborine (Epipactis atrorubens) with the former just past its best and the latter not quite in flower. A bit further on we came out into a clearing where quite a few cows where rattling there bells, I caught up with Judy, John and Linda at the far side of the clearing. They were scanning the trees below as Judy had just seen a very smart White-backed Woodpecker (Pico Dorsiblanco / Dendrocopos leucotos) cross the clearing and drop in to trees on the far side, by the time I reached them the bird had not been relocated and remained elusive. In the same area however I did see one of my traget birds for the trip when we picked up a couple of Marsh Tits (Carbonero Palustre /Parus palustris) in the willow below us as well as Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). We eventually had to give up on the Woodpecker and continued on along the track adding Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Goldcrest (Reyezuelo Sencillo / Regulus regulus), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and a couple of cronkng Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax). We were also looking down at our feet again adding a few more wild flower species as we walked including several spikes of the uncommon One-flowered Wintergreen (Moneses uniflora) along with Alchemilla-leaved Cinquefoil (Potentilla alchemilloides), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Pyrenean Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium ssp. pyrenaica), Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus) and a couple of just hanging on Alpine Gentians (Gentiana alpina). 
A little while later we reached the spot for the Wallcreeper (Treparriscos / Tichodroma muraria) and once we found Judy and John who had over shot slightly we all settled down for what can be a long wait for this special bird but just a few minutes later we located one of the pair on the main stack of rock where I had seen them back in May. During the next hour or so we saw what was probably both birdsof the pair several times travelling between the rock face above us and the warm sun covered crags a little further up the track. In this area we saw and heard Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), both Alpine (Chova Piquigualda / Pyrrhocorax graculus) and Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and we  heard Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and a barking Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) along way below us in the woods. 
We spent quite a while watching the Wallcreepers and once everyone was happy with their views we all except for Mike L and John who decided to slowly walk back down towards the van, deceded to carry on along the same track and make our way up on to the alpine meadows above. On the way we saw more Dark-red Helleborine plants in bud along with a few spikes of what looked like they would be Broad-leaved Helleborines (Epipactis helleborine) when they eventually flowered, Pyrenean Saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia), Large Wall Brown (Lasiommata maera), Large (Nymphalis polychlorus) and Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Piedmont Ringlet (Erebia meolans), Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis) and another fly over Wallcreeper. Up on the meadow we sat on a group of large rocks and had our lunch surrounded by good numbers of Burnt (Neotinea Ustulata), Frog (Dactylorhiza viride), Fragrant (Gymnadenia conopsea) and Black Vanilla Orchids (Nigritella angustifolia) as well as Alpine Marmots (Marmota marmota), Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). We also saw several more butterfly species on the grasslands including Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). 
We retraced our steps back down the track following the same route as on the way up, on the way down we checked an Orchid which Mike H and Mary-Ann had seen on the way up which turned out to be a perfectly flowering Red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra) which was a nice addition to the days list, we found several more spike as we desended as well as a few more over with Birdsnest Orchids, Red Squirrel (Ardilla común / Sclurus vulgaris), Common Treecreeper (Agateador Norteño / Certhia familiaris) which was seen and heard and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) which was just heard but remained elusive to the waiting bins. We met Mike L and John back at the Van and all loaded up before dropping down towards the river, on the way we stopped at a nice large bracken filled clearing where we saw a big bright Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) which cruised along the side of the braked stands. In the same area we had Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus), a Burnet Moth species and Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula).
A little further down the hill we had a Roe Deer cross the road and made another stop for a very smart Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) which was nectering on a Knapweed flower.
We continued on down to the river and made a brief stop amongst the Hawthorns adding a False Ilex Hairstreak (Querquera / Satyrium esculi) to the butterfly list but as it was quite hot we saw nothing else. At this point some of the group decided that they wanted to return to the hotel and either had a rest or drop into one of the nearby bars but four of us decided to head back out to check the top end of the Hecho valley for a couple of hours. 
We drove with out stopping right to the furthest point and parked near to a shallow ford in a river where we checked the very over grased grasslands. On the damp gravel we saw a single Small Tortoiseshell, Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops), Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Broad-leaved Marsh (Dactylorhiza majalis), Common Spotted (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Lesser Butterfly (Platanthera bifolia) and Greater Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera chlorantha), as well as more Burnt and Fragrant. Birds included Egyptian Vultures, Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citrinella) and down by the river a little back down the valley both White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and a fine male Red-backed Shrike (Alcaudón Dorsirrojo / Lanius collurio) which gave just brief views before dissappearing from sight. After we had checked the river for amphibians with out any luck we decided to head back for the evening meal and to make up the days list.

Photographs from the top: The Group at the Wallcreeper spot, Common Wintergreens (Pyrola minor), White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium), the Cows with bells on, Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus), One-flowered Wintergreen (Moneses uniflora), Alchemilla-leaved Cinquefoil (Potentilla alchemilloides), the chimney, Wallcreeper (Treparriscos / Tichodroma muraria), Pyrenean Saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia), view along the valley, Black Vanilla Orchids (Nigritella angustifolia), Red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra), Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus), Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) and
Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citrinella).

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