Tuesday 28 March 2023

Sierra de Mijas, Refugio de Juanar, Azata Golf near Estepona, Malaga Province and Observatorio del Estrecho near Tarifa, Cadiz Province, Spain.

A day making my way down to Tarifa.
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).

Last week I booked to go on a Pelagic from Tarifa hoping to see Atlantic Puffin ( Frailecillo Atlántico / Fratercula arctica) but the weather forecast had changed and the wind was going to be too strong for us to go out but as the Hotel was paid for I thought I may as well go but I change the plans around a bit.
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
I set off and my first stop was in a bar just west of Alhaurin el Grande where I got some breakfast and waited for it to get a bit lighter, after a couple of Coffee's I headed just up the road to an area of Pine woodland which is well known for it's Orchids but as soon as I arrived I was aware that there were very few plants which I guess is down to it having been a very dry winter and some late frosts.
None of the Hybrids I wanted to see were where I usually expected to find the and all the commoner species seemed very thin on the ground, I did find a few spikes of Woodcock (Ophrys Scolopax) x20 in flower with many more over with, Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) x5, Mirror (Ophrys speculum) x20, Champagne (Orchis champagneuxii) x3 and Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) x15. 
Champagne Orchid (Orchis champagneuxii).
As I walked around I also saw Yellow Anemone (Anemone palmata), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
I went to another spot not far away and it was equally dry but had also been ploughed by Wild Boar (Jabalí / Felis silvestris) which did not help, here I only found Mirror x1 and Sawfly x1 but added Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes) to the list.
Mirror Orchid (Ophrys speculum).
Again I moved on and went to Refugio de Juanar, armed with some info from friend Kevin Wade I scanned the side of the road as i drove up and then parked and walked part of the way back down, on the verge I found 2 spikes of Woodcock Orchid which were in good condition but in heavy shade and a little further down 2 spikes of what I think are Ophrys Alpujata, an early (these plants were almost over) very small flowered Ophrys lutea type Orchid and a new species for me, Thanks Kevin.
In the same area I also saw Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula).
Mirror Orchid (Ophrys speculum).
Onwards to my next spot and with info from Ricky Owen and Derek Etherton I went to try and see a Baillon's Crake (Polluela Chica / Porzana pusilla) which had been found a week or so ago by Andrés Rojas Sánchez I think, anyway it was a bit of a pain and played difficult.
I arrived, got my scope and chair set up and started to scan the reeds, almost straight away I saw a female Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) right at the most right hand corner of the reeds and as I watched this cracker of a bird and another year tick there was a movement in the back ground by a large black pipe.
Ophrys Alpujata.
In the scope be hide the Bittern the Crake was about to break cover and walk into the open but the Bittern took exception to it being there and flew straight at it and flushed it back into the reeds and even though I sat there for another 2 and a half hours it did not show again but I did see
Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra) with lots of youngster of various ages, Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus).
My last stop before I went to the Hotel in Tarifa was at the Observatorio del Estrecho but it was hellishly windy so I parked and scanned from the car for an hour or so picking up around 50 Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), 20+ Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and a Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys Scolopax).
After checking in, having a shower to remove the factor 50 I went out to have a beer and some food with friend Dave Grundy who had just arrived for 3 months Moth trapping.

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