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).

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Moraleda and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

The first of two days with Lynn and Tim from Hampshire in the UK.

Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice).
Lynn, Tim and I headed out towards the fields near to the town of Moraleda and on the way over we started the list off with Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
Ornate Shieldbugs (Eurydema ornata).
Once we were out on the fields the good birds just kept coming with Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), 3+ Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), a cracker of a Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Ornate Shieldbugs (Eurydema ornata).
As well as the birds we saw Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia), 100s of Ornate Shieldbugs (Eurydema ornata) and their eggs on Caper Plants (Capparis spinosa) and what looked like the lavae of  Striped Lychnis Moth
Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia).
We returned to the road and dropped down into the Cacín Valley and stopped at a point along the river where we had a short walk which took us quite a while as we kept on finding cracking species. The best of which was a pair of Western Demoiselles (Calopteryx xanthostoma) which up until now I had only seen a single female of this species so I was surprised to find these two perfect insects here. After checking with a couple of Spanish experts on dragons and their distribution I was very pleased to find out that this was the first record in the province since 1911. 
Chlorophorus trifasciatus.
In the same area we also had White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Mercury Bluet's (Coenagrion mercuriale), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera) for the insects and birds included Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Melodious (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Reed  (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur).
Lavae of  Striped Lychnis Moth,
Our next stop was at the Contraembalse just up the road, the water level was quite low but there were still good numbers of birds to be seen including Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei). We also had Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto) and a flushed Ni Moth (Trichoplusia ni).
Western Demoiselle (Calopteryx xanthostoma).
We continued on down the road towards Cacín a short was and stopped to look at some roadside Scabious plants which had a good number of butterflies necturing on them and these included False Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus tripolinus), Clouded Yellow, Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Southern Blue (Polyommatus celina), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and on the opposite side of the road we watched a stunning female Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) egg laying on the Fennel Plants.
Western Demoiselle (Calopteryx xanthostoma).
Whilst we were there we headed a Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) calling from some river side trees so we took our lunch down and found a spot near the River and had our food whilst looking for the bird, we did not see it but added Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
We again continued on down the valley down to the gorge where we had great views of a pair of Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia).
After the gorge we headed back up the Valley and were very pleased to see a fine female Northorn Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) as it dropped off a roadside pylon. 
Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea).
Our final stop of the day was at Balsa de Rigedor a small lake on the side of the A92 motorway, here we saw several of the water species we had seen earlier. The main reason for calling here were the dragonflies which included Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum) and Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum). From here we headed back to the house where later we sat and listened to the calling Red-necked Nightjars (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis).