Tuesday 9 April 2019

Sierra de Loja and the western slopes, Granada Province.

Low cloud, Rain, High Winds and just a Tad of sun made for a mixed day.

Torcal Toadflax (Linaria anticaria).
I met Pauline, Niki, Anne and Andy at the Abades service area and even though the weather was not great we gave the Sierra a go and started off with a walk up to the second quarry. As we walked we saw a couple of Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), a male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Viola dementria, Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis) which were not in flower, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba), Torcal Toadflax (Linaria anticaria), Rusty-back Fern (Ceterach officinarum), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Field marigold (Calendula arvensis), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Andalusian Storksbill (Erodium recorderi), Southern Early Purple (Androrchis Olbiensis) and Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea).
Lichen on the sierra.
We returned to the car and the drove right out to the far side adding several Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) including a rather soggy youngster and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae). As we continued on the weather really closed in and the cloud and rain became so bad that we decided to cut our looses and turn round and drop back down the hill adding a fine singing male Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
In the woodlands lower down we found Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Rabbit (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus), Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera subsp tenthredinifera), Buckler Mustard (Biscutella frutescens), Spring Rockcress (Arabis verna), Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata) and Eruca (Eruca sativa).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
Down lower near the motorway we had several spikes of Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana). 
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
Our next stop was unplanned but we had a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) fly across in front of us and as we watched that we picked up 8 passing Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which we saw again further down the valley a little later.
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
Next we stopped at an area of fields along the western slopes of the sierra and had fantastic views of more than a dozen Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), this was truely brilliant birding experience. We also had House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus),
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) as well as Bath (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Small White (Pieris rapae).
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis Papillionacea).
Just down the road from this spot we stopped on the roadside and took pictures of a group of Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orchis Papillionacea) and found Common Asphodel (Asphodelus albus), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides) and Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major).
Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus).
Down the valley we made another stop in amongst the Oaks and soon found several species of Orchid including Yellow Bee Orchid, Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia), Conical Orchid (Neotinea conica), Giant Orchid and Southern Early Purple Orchid as well as a really annoyed Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus) which was flashing it crown at us as we walked through it's territory.
Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus).
We again moved further down the valley to an area of disused Almond groves in a large area of terraced grassland where we again found several of the same orchid species along with Mirror Orchid ( Ophrys speculum), Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis colina), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) and Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major).
Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea).
We headed back North up the valley and made one last roadside where we found several spikes of Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orchis Papillionacea) and another spike of Sawfly Orchid.
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orchis Papillionacea).
Conical Orchid (Neotinea conica).
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis colina).
Mirror Orchid ( Ophrys speculum).

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