Tuesday 3 July 2018

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

A day on the windy Sierra with Pam and John from Norfolk, UK.

Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) male.
Pam, John and I set off up to the 2500 meter or there abouts mark on Sierra Nevada, on the way we started the day list off with a juvenile Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), several Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) perched on the roadside wires along with the commoner Collards (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and in Huétor before we reached the motorway lots of screaming Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) belting around between the houses.
Up nearer to Granada we had Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) which flew across the road in front of us at Santa fe and large numbers of Feral Pigeons (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia).
Libelloides longicornis,
Our first stop in the mountains was next to the Visitor's Center where we checked an area of roadside thistles which in a normal year would be shoulder high and covered in Butterflies but as everything appears to be several weeks behind up the sierra they were only just above ankle high and the only butterflies we found were singles of Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) and Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea).
Birds in this area included a family party of Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), a singing Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula / Violeta de Sierra Nevada).
Further up the hill we stopped at the parking area for the Botanical Gardens where we checked the grassland around the edge of the pine woods seeing several more Clouded Yellows, Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines), Small White (Pieris rapae) as well as several of the brilliant Thread-winged Lacewings / Spoonwings (Nemoptera bipennis) and a good number of the quick flying Libelloides longicornis, a species of Owlfly which was new to me.
Our next stop was for a second breakfast in the ski resort, which without the snow always looks extremely tatty and rather ugly but the coffee and toast with tomato was rather good and set us up for our short walk out along the barranco de San Juan trail. It was shorter than expected due to the amount of snow still there and because it was blowing a gale.
Butterflies were few but we managed more Clouded Yellow, Small, Bath (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Large Whites (Pieris brassicae), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and the first of a small number of Nevada Blues (Plebicula golgus).
In this area we also found Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), a family of Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) at least three male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis).
The wild flowers were noticeable by there absence but I did find several including Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum minutum) which were not quite out, Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula / Violeta de Sierra Nevada), Ptilotrichum spinosum, Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Minature Wild Plum (Prunus prostrata) and St Bruno's Lilly (Paradisia liliastrum).
John at 2500 meters.
Lower down we called in at one of the tracks out on to the ski slopes but again as at the last site we did not find many butterflies even though the wind was much reduced here. We did add a single Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron), more Clouded Yellows, Nevada Blues, Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and a Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) which flew past rapidly.
We had a late lunch and then called at our last location in the El Purche area on the way down the hill, on the slopes John and I searched the scrub and Thistles whilst Pam again got the paints out again in the shade of a roadside tree.
On the bank and along the road we added quite a few species including Cardinal Fritillary (Argynnis pandora), Lang's Short-tailed (Leptotes pirithous), Holly (Celastrina argiolus) and Long-tailed Blues (Lampides baeticus), Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Blue Spotted (Mancha Azul / Satyrium spini) and False Ilex Hairstreaks (Satyrium esculi), Small (Coenonympha pamphilus) and Dusky Heaths (Coenonympha dorus), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Rock Grayling (Hipparchi alcyone) and Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto). Also seen were Spiny Restharrow (Ononis spinosa), Spanish Thistle (Scolymus hispanicus), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) which were over and Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) not yet in flower. We moved on and made our way back to the house.

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