Friday, 18 May 2018

Sierra de Loja, Venta de Raya, Granada Province.

Up on my favourite hill with John and Jenny from the UK.

Jenny and John at the far end of the hill.
I meet Jenny and John just down the road at La Paz holiday home (Vivenda Rural) and then we made our way out across the fields near Huétor on our way up to Sierra de Loja, on the way we picked up Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) which were flying into a ruined building and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) which crossed the road with food in its bill and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
We went along the motorway and then came round to the service area calling in at a roadside spot where we had great views of a colony of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), a couple of Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) which flew in to the Olive groves above the bank where the Bee-eaters and several pairs of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) where also nesting in old nest burrows.
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis).
 Once we were on the hill and on the dirt track to the lowest quarry we saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), food carrying Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) along with several different wild flowers on the bank Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Navel-wort (Omphalodes commutata), Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Rabbits bread (Andryala integrifolia), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Rosy garlic (Allium roseum), Yellow Phlomis (Phlomis lychnitis), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba), Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum).
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis).
We made it to the low quarry and almost straight away we had a female Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) which was feeding in amongst the rock and was later it was joined by the male and a youngster. As we watched the Wheatears we had 5 Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) fly around above us and then land in some pines nearby, next came House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), more Barn Swallows, Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus).
Next we made our way up on to the main mountain and headed right over to the far side picking up Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Rock Sparrow, Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
At the furthest point along the far crags we soon found a cracking male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) which showed extreamly well along with a female which was still collecting material for the nest. We also found male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) down on the pools below us, calling Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) as well as lots of Yellow Rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) and Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis).
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We turned around and started our journey back down the hill, on the way we stopped at an area which was covered in a massive carpet of Andalusian Storksbill (Erodium recorderi) and on the rocks some nice patches of Erodium cheilanthifolium and another male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and a couple more Blue Rock Thrishes.
Along the crags we had a couple of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and a group of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
Further down the track we stopped at the pools at Charca del Negra where we saw several Sharp-ribbed Salamander (Pleurodeles waltl) coming up for breath amongst the Pond Water Crowsfoot (Ranunculus Peltatus), in the area we also found Saxifraga Camposii, White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) and Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum).
Erodium cheilanthifolium.
In a dell just down the track we stopped and checked this spot which was very sheltered and soon found the first butterflies including Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and Small White (Pieris rapae) as well as Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea), Viola dementria, Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Red Phlomis (Phlomis purpurea) and Iris Subbiflora.
Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea).
We again dropped down to near the large marble quarry where we had great views of a singing Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) which came up in a Broom bush.
Iris Subbiflora.
Our final stop on the hill was along the track near the entrance to the lower quarry, here we saw a few
Knapweed Fritillariers (Melitaea phoebe), Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), more singing Spectacled Warblers, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Pyramidal Orchid (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia), over with Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum) and right on to of the ridge above us a Spanish Ibex (Cabra montés / Cabra pyreaica). 
Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
We dropped down off the mountain and went for some lunch in Venta del Raya before heading just down the road where we had brilliant views of at least 7 male and 5 female Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) one of which was a stunning looking melanistic male bird.
Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata).
In the same area we had Turtle and Collared Dove, Hoopoe and Woodchat Shrike, Hoary Cress (Cardaria draba), Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) and lots of Small and Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).

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