Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Searching for Butterflies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Emma and Aiden, Day One.

Spanish Brassy Ringlets (Erebia hispania).
I met Ema and Aiden near Huétor Tajar and we headed straght off up into the mountains, our first stop was near the ski resort on the A395 when we picked up a raptor which we never got onto properly after we parked but in the vegetation around the pull off we started the Butterfly list with Iberian Marbled White (Medioluto Ibérica / Melanargia lachesis), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) and Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris).
We continued on up to the car parks at 2500m and found a roadside slot as the main parking areas were full being a Sunday. We got our kit together and then went for a walk out on one of the tracks nearby, luckily most of the people up there were going to the summit so this trail was relitivly quiet. As soon as we started out we picked up the first of many Spanish Brassy Ringlets (Erebia hispania) which appeared to be having a good year going by the numbers seen. We also had quite a few Apollo's (Apolo / Parnassius apollo subsp nevadensis) but most of them were quite worn and seemed to be going over early this year, probably dur to the extream heat. 
Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum minutum).
We also had good views of Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), an immature Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) which looked a bit out of place amongst the rocks and in the air Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and drifting Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia).
As we continued along the track the list of butterflies grew and included Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus), Queen of Spain (Issoria lathonia) and Cardinal Fritillaries (Pandora / Argynnis pandora), Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Idas Blue (Plebejus idas), Rock Grayling (Hipparchi alcyone), Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron subsp gordius), Oriental Meadow Brown (Hyponephele lupinnus) and Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra) by the time we reached the area of wet gullies. We also had a few interesting wildflowers along the track sides, Chickweed (Cerastium boissieri), Fox Glove (Digitalis purpurea),  Hard Fern (Polystrichum lonchitis), Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum minutum), Sideritis glacialis, Arenaria imbricata and both Eryngium bourgatii and Eryngium glaciale.
Gentiana pneumonanthe subsp depressa,
In this area we found several nice wild plants including Gentiana pneumonanthe subsp depressa, Gentiana boryi, Gentianella tenellaGrass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris), Pinguicola nevadensis but not in flower, Epilobium atlanticum, Plantago nivalis also not in flower but locally very common, Saxifraga stellaris which was flowering in the damp gullies, Euphrasia willommii, Minature Wild Plum (Prunus prostrata) and then as we walked back we found the first Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice).
Once we were back at the car we had a drink at a nearby bar and then dropped down to the thistle beds near the Visitors centre where we again boosted the list with Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Escher's Blue (Agrodiaetus escheri) and both ♂ and ♀ Hermits (Chazara briseis) as well as more Silver-spotted Skippers, Cardinal and Queen of Spain Fritillaries, Iberian Marbled Whites, Rock Grayling, Cleopatra and Spanish Brown Argus.
Gentianella tenella,
On a bend further down the hill we found Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Dusky Heath (Ninfa de Esper / Coenonympha dorus), Scarce Swallowtail, Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli).
Further down the narrow road which was the original road up and down the Sierra we stopped again near to the Entrance to the Seminario amongst the broad leaved woods. The site was much quieter that on my last vist just 10 days earlier, mainly due to the fact that the verges and many of the plants had been strimmed down. We did however see Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Small White (Pieris rapae), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and a short way further on Great Banded Grayling (Rey Moro / Kanetisa circe), Comma ("C" blanca / Polygomum c-album), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
Gentiana boryi,
We dropped further down the hill but found that as it was a Sunday it was busy with people bathing in the Rio Genel so we carried on and headed back towards Huétor but called in at Balsa de Rigedor where we had a look for some dragonflies and found Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) x3♂, Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum) x2♂, Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) x1♂ and a Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) x1♂.
Birds at this site included an immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos).
Just down the road we stopped again to check an area of Wild Capers (Capparis spinosa) but found nothing butterfly wise but added Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris).
We left this site and made our way back to the hotel where I dropped Emma and Aiden off and set up for the morning, day two.


Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma).

Hermits (Chazara briseis) ♂.


Hermits (Chazara briseis) ♀.

Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli).
Cardinal Fritillaries (Pandora / Argynnis pandora).

Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).





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