Saturday 12 March 2022

Cerro Hacho, Loja, Granada Province, Spain.

A walk around the lower loop looking for Orchids.
Ebird List, 32 Species of Bird and 6 Orchids.

Giant Orchid (Himanthoglosum Robertiana).
I parked up by the Quarry and and did the loop in a clock-wise direction, starting by having a look at the Giant Orchids (Himanthoglosum Robertiana) in amongst the Pines, I have no idea how many there are in the area but just in this patch I counted 90 flowering spikes and there must have been 5x as many blind rosettes.
Giant Orchid (Himanthoglosum Robertiana).
In this area I also saw Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca / foresteri), Wild Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and as I started to approach the Puddle I had several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) fly over.
Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca / foresteri).
Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca / foresteri).
As I walked on I found
Broad-leaved Iris (Iris planifolia), Conical Orchid (Neotinea conica), Fan-lipped (Anacamptis collina) and Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis olbienis) first of the year, Clouded Yellow (Colias corceua), Small White (Pieris rapae), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Cirl (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes).
Fan-lipped Orchid (Anacamptis collina).
Fan-lipped Orchid (Anacamptis collina) var. flavescens.
As I started to drop down towards the road I could hear a Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) singing, Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) and a double spike of the Fan-lipped Orchid (Anacamptis collina) var. flavescens.
Conical Orchid (Neotinea conica).
Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis olbienis).
As I walked along the road and then back up to the car I added Field Marigold (Calendula arvensis), Erophila verna, Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) and Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).
Wild Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum).

Friday 11 March 2022

Huétor Fields, Granada Province, Spain.

A walk along the Arroyo.
Ebird List, 38 species.

Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) female.
I parked in the usual spot and walked my regular route, almost straight away I had the best bird of the walk when a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) which flew straight across the fields flushing everything as it made it's way North up the Valley towrds Montefrio.
Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) female.

Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) female.

Other species were a nice male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), more newly arrived Spanish (Yellow) Wagtails (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) but there was no sign of the Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) today.

Thursday 10 March 2022

Sierra de Mijas and Guadalhorce Pools, Malaga Province.

A morning Orchid hunting with Kiersten, Annette and Bob and later watching an American Gull on the coast.

Photographing a very smart Atlas Orchid that Kiersten found.
I arrived early and checked out one of the sites I planned to isit later to see if I could find a spike or two of the rare Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica) but I didn't find any Orchids at all at this side which was very worrying as in years gone by there were several hundred spikes of a few different species.
Anacamptis x dafnii.
Ophrys x Peltieri.
I gave up at this site and went to the meeting point in the Sierra de Mijas and after a short while Bob Hibbert arrived, It had been a while since we had seen each other so it was going to be good to catch up and Bob very kindly gave me a copy of the Orchids of Europe and the Med which I will put to good uses, a few minutes later Kiersten and Annette arrived and we got on with the search.
Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys Scolopax).

Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys Scolopax).
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
Almost straight away we found the first interesting plants but unfortunatley the two spikes of
Anacamptis x dafnii which is the hybrid between Fan-lipped Orchid (Anacamptis collina) and Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) were passed their best so I will have to come back next year a tad earlier.
Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica).

Atlas Orchid (Ophrys atlantica).
In the same area we also saw several spikes of
Woodcock (Ophrys Scolopax), Pink Butterfly Orchid and Ophrys x Peltieri our second hybrid of the morning.
Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).

As we walked through the trees Kiersten made find of the day when she came across a very smart spike of the Atlas Orchid, the species I had looked for but could not find it earlier and thought we would miss out on today, very happy people.
Mirror Orchid (Ophrys speculum).
We saw and heard Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus) and Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius).
Ophrys x castroviejoi.
Ophrys x castroviejoi.
We continued on down to the main track, o the way we added
Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera), several passed their best Fan-lipped (Anacamptis collina), a few Mirror Orchids (Ophrys speculum) before we found the spot for another hybrid, this time it was Ophrys x castroviejoi (O.Speculum X Scolopax).
Ophrys x castroviejoi.

Ophrys x castroviejoi.
Back in 2011
Juan Pérez Contreras and I found a single spike of this stunning plant which turned out to be the first record of this Hybrid to be recorded in Andalucia, so today it was nice to see it again and at least 6 spikes.
Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla).
Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla).
We returned to the cars seeing a single Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) on the way and headed to a spot near to Coin where we parked and checked a wooded bank near a large quarry and we quickly found several spikes of Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla) and further up on the bank good numbers of both Man (Orchis anthropophora) and Italian Man Orchids (Orchis Italica) and a single spike of well over with Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca).
Italian Man Orchid (Orchis Italica).
Man Orchid (Orchis anthropophora).
Our last stop in this area was at the site which I had visited earlier and Orchid wise we had no more success but things had warmed up a little so we did see several butterfly species including Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Small White (Pieris rapae), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) and a tatty lookng Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) along with Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina).
We all returned to the meeting point, Kiersten and Annette headed off home and Bob and I dropped down to the coast to visit the pools at Guadalhorce where we were hoping to find at least one of the two uncommon Bonaparte's Gulls (Gaviota de Bonaparte / Larus philadelphia) which had been around for a few days.
Bonaparte's Gull (Gaviota de Bonaparte / Larus philadelphia).
After a slight wrong turn leading to some rather tight streets in Mijas village we reached the site and walked out to the main hide over looking Laguna Grande, on the way we saw
Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and a single Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger).
Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia).

Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus).

From the main hide we soon found some nice species including
Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Eurasian Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia) x2, Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) x6, Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and a Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) which was sat on an old tree stump for the whole time we were there. 
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
We scanned through the large numbers of Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) out on the water and eventually found the adult Bonaparte's Gull (Gaviota de Bonaparte / Larus philadelphia), in the same gull flocks we found several Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus).
Other species seen from here included
Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus).
From and on our way to the next hide we had
Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala). Bob and I then walked back to our cars and then headed off home after a very successful day which I hope everyone enjoyed as much as I did.

Wednesday 9 March 2022

El Temple and Cacín Valley, Granada Province, Spain.

Out on the far side of the patch with Steve and Elena.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) x3.
I met friends Steve and Elena at the Cortijo de Tajar hotel where we had a coffee before heading along the A92 to Moraleda and then out on to the fields which are now just a small part of the area due to the massive over planting of Olives and Almonds that has happened over the last few years. 
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).

This is a bad enough distruction of habitat but more resently in nearby areas huge parts of the countryside have be destroyed by being covered in massive solar farms so that the electricity companies can make more profits selling the electricity over seas.
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We took to the tracks near Moraleda where we made a couple of stops finding Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), an Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) along with Fan-lipped Orchid (Anacamptis collina), Common stork's bill (Erodium ciconium) and Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca).
Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) in the Almond Blossom.
Out on the more open fields we could hear Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) calling in every direction and around the ruin we had the first of a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), at least 3 Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and 4 very smart Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew in and landed in an area of newly planted Almond trees.
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
We drove off the fields and then took the road out towards Chimenears getting another Little Owl on the way as well as Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
From Chimenears we took the road along to La Malaha making a couple of stops and added severl Great Spotted Cuckoos (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) at different points, a very distant Iberian Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) sat on one of the large Pylon's being mobbed by a Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua)Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) which were heard in the Olives, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) big numbers of White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and a passing female / ringtail Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus). 
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
At La Malaha we headed to Ventas de Huelma where we stopped for a drink and Tapas before continuing on to the Cacín Valley on the way we saw Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis).
We drove through Cacín and then went north up to the Contra-embalse where we parked and scanned the lake, the water level was low so we had several
Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), a couple of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and lots more White Wagtails and a couple of Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), another 3 Marsh Harriers and a Common Buzzard.
Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
We drove further up the Valley and checked the Cliffs below Moraleda but only nanaged to add Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) to the day List.
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
Our final site of the day was back on the Huétor Fields where we walked part of the way along the furthest length of the Arroyo nearest to the Railway bridge, as we walked we saw Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and the male Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) which has been around for a few days.
Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) male.
Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) male.
Steve and Elena then dropped me back to the hotel and we all made our ways back home but as I needed a bit of a walk still I had a look at the Lucerne fields but only managed to add Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and calling Perez's Frogs (Rana Común / Pelophylax perezi) before I finished.