Wednesday 3 April 2019

Sierra de Loja, Granada Province.

A rare full day on my favorate hill.

Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
I met Neal and Ronna in the Abades service area and after a coffee we set off for a good look around the Sierra starting on the track along the side of the motorway towards the first quarry. On the verge we found the first Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) as well as flocks of Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and a couple of  Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea).
Just along the track in the quarry we scanned the crags and turned up the first of several Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) as a fine looking male showed well for us whilst we were listened to a singing Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and watched several Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) in the Almonds above us.
Whilst we were there a pair of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) flew in and did a circet of the quarrey before disappearing over the pines.
As we started to climb up the first slope a Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) flew in front of us and landed on the roadside showing very well and in the back ground a Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) ran over the rocks and up a pine tree.
We got out of the car and straight away added Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and the first group of Iberian  Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) which were new for Neal.
We went just up the road and took the track up to the second quarry which was quiet but we did see several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), a couple of calling Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Rock Dove (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia) as well as Mistle Thrush again and another singing Wren, Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), a pair of Black Wheatears, Greenfinch and as we walked back down the track we saw several spikes of Southern Early Purple (Androrchis Olbiensis) and Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis colina), Field marigold (Calendula arvensis), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Andalusian Storksbill (Erodium recorderi) and Viola dementria.
Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) male.
We moved on over the hill as I wanted to get to the far side as quickly as possible so we could come back slowly, on the way out we did stop briefly a couple of times picking up several Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), a female Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) one of which was roosting but the second was definatly hunting, Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), both male and female Blue-rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and a pair of high level Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica).
Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) male.
Passing Charca Negro we went out along the far crags and right out to the flat lands further on, on the way we made a couple of stops seeing a small group of female Spanish Ibex (Cabra montés / Cabra pyreaica) and amongst the Hawthorns and added a female Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and down towards the flat land area several Subalpine Warblers (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) were singing from some of the stunted oak trees along with a couple of Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), a singing Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and a calling Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus).
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We started to make our way back stopping several times including at the pools of Charca del Negro where we had views of several Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl), Natterjack Toads (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) and a very small but smart Andalucian Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri).
Female Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).
In the same area we had a passing male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) being mobbed by several Jackdaws and a flock of around 30 or so European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) which whizzed very quickly through heading East.
Southern Early Purple (Androrchis Olbiensis).
In the same area we had a good number of Painted Lady's (Vanessa cardui), a stunning but flighty Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Yellow Rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium), Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis) and just down the track in a small dell Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), the none flowering Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea) and a young male Spanish Ibex.
We dropped even further down and spent a while watching a stunning male Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) before again dropping right down onto the crags seeing a distant Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos). On the track down the slope we parked up and spent some times watching Dartford (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) along with Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Small White (Pieris rapae) and Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes).
Young male Spanish Ibex.
We made another couple of stops as we dropped down through the pine woods and found Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera subsp tenthredinifera), Buckler Mustard (Biscutella frutescens), Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Spring Rockcress (Arabis verna), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Rabbit (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major).
Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata).
We went down and under the motorway to our last stop and found several spikes of Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) and a single flowering Somber Bee (Ophrys fusca / foresteri) and along a short track into the Oaks Rusty-back Fern (Ceterach officinarum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and Bonelli's Warbler, Serin, Greenfinch and Blackbirds.
Buckler Mustard (Biscutella frutescens).
We headed back to our start point after having a cracking day up on these stunning mountains, thanks to Neal and Ronna for their company on this day.

Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera subsp tenthredinifera).
Spring Rockcress (Arabis verna).
Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater).

Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater).

Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana).
A plate size Lichen species.

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