Wednesday 15 July 2020

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province, Spain.

A Butterfly day in the mountains of Granada Province.

Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).
I left Home and made my way up to Granada where I was going to meet up with Steve and Elena Powell for a day in the hills looking for butterflies, on the way I started the list with Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae).
I arrived at the meeting point and found a few more bits before Steve arrived including Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
Apollo (Parnassius apollo).
Steve and Elena arrived and fully masked up we went off up to the car park at 2500 making one roadside stop on the way when we saw a pale morph Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) soaring above a nearby hill, whilst parked we also had a family party of Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), a small group of Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), a display flying Tawny Pipit (Bisbita Camprstre / Anthus campestris), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and a fly over Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
Long-tailed Blue (Lampides baeticus).
As we moved on up towards the car park at 2500m we had a herd of Spanish Ibex (Cabra montés / Cabra pyreaica) chilling on a rocky out crop.
Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum minutum).
We parked and walked up to the gate house finding Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), one of which was carrying food to a nest in a small shed nearby and as we started to walk out towards the Hoya de San Juan a flock of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) circled us several times and passed by several times during our walk.
Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania).
As we walked out we had several family parties of Northern Wheatears quite close to the path and the first Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) of the day. Further on we added Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), the first of just a few Apollo (Parnassius apollo) of the Nevada subspecies, several Long-tailed Blues (Lampides baeticus) and on a rocky scree area a female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis).
Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron).
We continued on out towards the area of Burreguiles at the head of the barranco de San Juan, on the way we had Nevada House Leek (Sempervivum minutum), Anarrhinum laxiflorum, Eryngium glaciale, Dianthus subacaulis ssp brachyanthus, Ptilotrichum spinosum, Sideritis glacialis, Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Leontodon boryi, Erigeron frigidus, Euphrasia willommii, a single Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania) which was one of the few butterflies seen in any numbers, Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), the first of a few Idas Blue (Plebejus idas) and just as we reached the wetter areas a smart Nevada Blue (Pleicula golgus) sat out on the track.
Idas Blue (Plebejus idas).
In the area of the Gullies I found lots of plants including Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Alpine Gentian (Gentiana alpina), Gentiana boryi, Gentiana sierrae, Plantago nivalis, Saxifraga stellaris ssp alpigena, Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris), Black Sedge (Carex nigra / Carex negro), the tiny uncommon Moonwort (Lunaria menor / Botrychium lunaria) and Lotus corniculatus subsp glacialis.
Nevada Blue (Pleicula golgus).
As we walked back we found Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Tawny Pipit, more Northern Wheatears, Carpentor Bee (Xylocopa violacea), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and Small White (Pieris rapae).
Robust Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza elata).
Once we returned to the car we dropped down to our next stop on one of the tracks out on to the ski runs from the resort, on the rocks near the barrier we saw a family of Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and as we walked out on to the track towards the first of the wet areas a Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) flew up the valley.
Gentiana sierrae.
I walked up the damp area I also added a couple of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), more Robust Marsh Orchids, Clouded Yellow and just down the track on the Horse Mint (Mentha longifolia) a couple of Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice), Purple-shot Coppers and further along the track the first of quite a few Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Nevada Blue, our only Dark-green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) of the day, Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxes montensis).
Gentiana boryi.
We dropped down to the area just below the Botanic gardens and checked an area of Thistles and Button Flower seeing Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe), Southern Brown Argus,  Thread-winged Lacewing (Nemoptera bipennis), a mating pair of Clouded Yellows, Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) and Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra).
Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).
We made another stop near the visitors centre checking a short area of roadside verge but a lot of the tall thistles that the butterflies usually enjoy had been hacked back so we onlt added a coupe of Small Skippers (Thymelicus sylvestris), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus), a single Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Grayling (Hipparchia semele) and another few Southern Brown Argus.
Southern  Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
Just up the road we took the old road down towards Guejar Sierra and after a few Km we pulled on to an area of grassland and on a rocky patch we had soon found a couple of new species, firstly there was a very smart Lesser-spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia), which was quickly followed by a Dusky Heath (Coenonympha dorus), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi), both Iberian Scarce (Iphiclides feisthameli) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon).
Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea).
Then on the opposite side of the road a possible Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis).
Continuing on along the narrow road we dropped down to our next stop by a roadside water fountain, as we walked back up the road we saw several Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris) which occationally dropped down and sat on the Wild Clematis (Clematis flammula), where Steve managed to get some underwing shots when perched for him. I only managed to get one that landed but instantly opened its wings full but still superb to see.
Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxes montensis).
In the same area we had Iberian Marbled Whites, Wall Brown, Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and as we drove down to the last but one stop a Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) crossed the road.
Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea) mating pair.
We again parked on the roadside and had a short walk, I checked a spot of some Orchids I had seen in the passed but both the Robust Marsh Orchids and the Epipactis Fageticola were dry and over with. 
Lesser-spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia).
Butterfly wise it was very quiet and we only added Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and the last site down near the village was even quieter and all we saw heard was a Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) before we set off back to my car and then home.
Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus).
Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus).
Nevada Blue (Pleicula golgus).
Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).
Huge Hoverfly Species.
Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).
Dusky Heath (Coenonympha dorus).
Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis).
Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous).
Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris).

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