Wednesday 10 June 2015

Sierra de Loja, Granada Province and Laguna Chica, Malaga Province.

A morning in the mountains and the afternoon at Laguna Chica.
Day two with Lynn and Tim.

Today we were heading up into the Sierra de Loja looking for upland birds and butterflies, we started off by going up the track to the small quarry and checking the slopes there and the crags. We soon had Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) on the list along with Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Southern Blue (Polyommatus celina),  False Ilex (Querquera / Satyrium esculi) and Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Mancha Azul / Satyrium spini), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Spanish Marbled White (Medioluto Inés / Melanargia ines), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), False Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus tripolinus), Large Psammodromus (Lagartija colilarga / Psammodromus algirus) and Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica).
From here we drove across the mountain to the pool of Charca del Negra, on the way we saw Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). We parked near the pool and had a look at what was left of the water and had views of several Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl) and a couple of male Blue / Common Emperors (Anax imperator). On the surrounding crags and grassland we saw and heard Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). As we could not find the target Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) we continued on to another set of crags where we soon were having very nice views of both male and female birds of this uncommon and shy species. In the same area we picked up a fine female Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), more Black Wheatear's, Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) and Thread-winged Lacewings (Nemoptera bipennis). We retraced our way down the hill after some time watching these cracking birds but did not get very far as we stopped to check an area of rocks which have the uncommon Erodium cheilanthifolium growing on them, this is the laval foodplant of the uncommon Spanish Argus (Aricia morronensis). As the the plant was present we thought we might as well have a look for the butterfly in the area and soon had a small insect flying around one of the plants. Tim cracked off a couple of shots which later proved that we had in deed found the Argus we were looking for.
Again we continued on down stopping around half way to photograph some Thread-winged Lacewings and also picked up Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).
Our last stop on the Sierra was at an area of Broom scrub where we had views of a very flighty Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) and Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla).
As we drove down the last bit of the track we heard and saw Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Bonelli's Warbler Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Our next stop was at Laguna Chica where we hoped to track down a few dragonflies as well as boost the bird list a bit, on the water we saw several Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and from the reeds we heard Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and a Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) and finally in the air came European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba). We spent most of the time around the margins amongst the reeds where we found large numbers of Dainty Damselflies (Coenagrion scitulum) along with lesser numbers of Scarlet  (Crocothemis erythraea) and Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Black-tailed (Orthetrum cancellatum) and Long Skimmers (Orthetrum trinacria), Lesser (Anax parthenope) and Blue / Common Emperors and Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum) as well as Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). From here we headed back to the house.

Photographs from the top: Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Mancha Azul / Satyrium spini), Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius), Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida), Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica), Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), 2x Spanish Argus (Aricia morronensis), Thread-winged Lacewings (Nemoptera bipennis), Tim and I photographing the Lacewings, Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) and male Scarlet Darter  (Crocothemis erythraea).

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