Friday 2 April 2021

West Of Sierra de Loja, Granada Province, Spain.

A couple of hours in the Campo looking for Orchids.
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) male.
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) male.
I drove through Loja and went to a spot where I had the privilege to watch 19 or so Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) displaying and heading out to hunt. Unfortunately the area has changed since my last visit and the area which is suitable for the birds to breed has been much reduces and is now about a third of what there was in previous years.
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) male.
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) female.
I am not sure what the concentration the birds con breed in but suspect that some of these beautiful birds will have to move on unfortunately. During the couple of hours watching these stunning birds I also recorded
Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Iberian  (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea).
I moved on and parked in the woods further along the valley and then had a walk finding a few species of Orchid in the grassland amongst the Oak trees, the commonest were Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea) and Conical Orchid (Neotinea conica) as well as Southern Early Purple (Orchis olbienis), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia), Fan-lipped (Anacamptis collina) and smaller numbers of mostly over with Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum Robertiana).
Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
In the same area I watched a newly arrived
Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) calling and singing from a dead branch in one of the Oaks.
Conical Orchid (Neotinea conica).
As I walked through a large area of grassland I could hear a couple of singing
Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and back up in the Oaks there were several Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) shrieking and squawking loudly, Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and a singing male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea).

Butterflies were few due to the strongish cool wind but I did see a few Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Small White (Pieris rapae), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).
Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli).

Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli).

Again I continued on down the valley, just before Zafarraya I turned out onto the fields where I checked several of the more naturalized Irrigation pools finding Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Zitting Cisticola, White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata).
Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia).
I eventually reached Zafarraya and then took the road back North stopping at an area of abandoned Almond groves on the way finding lots more over with Giant and Fan-lipped Orchids as well as some very smart
Pink Butterfly (Orchis papilionacea) and a few spikes of Small Woodcock (Ophrys picta) which were not quite in flower.
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum Robertiana).
Wild flowers included
Common Asphodel (Asphodelus aestivus), Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Neapolitan Garlic (Allium neapolitanum), Shepherds Needles (Scandix pecten-veneris), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata) and White Mignonette (Reseda Alba).
Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina).
Birds included Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), a female Cirl Bunting and Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus).
Also seen were Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus baeticus), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) and a Iberian Brown Hare (Liebre ibérica / Lepus granatensis) which broke cover from right under my feet scaring the hell out of me.
Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) female.

From here I drove home, on the way I saw several roadside spikes of
Italian Man Orchid (Orchis Italica) and could not resist having another hour watching the Montagu's Harriers.

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