Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

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Philzoid
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Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby Philzoid » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:05 am

Moving on from my last stop, the A-402 road doubled back on itself and in ½ a mile I was pulling-in again at a higher elevation with the scrubby woodland still present. Scrambling down a small embankment I found myself among the thick scrub hopeful of encountering another Cardinal. No Cardinal but another butterfly did show up:- a cryptically coloured Tree Grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus (sub-species?) and third lifer for the day :D . Although the first pic shows it on a tree (as you might expect to find it) it was initially on the ground but I couldn’t get near enough for a decent photo. Its seemed easier to approach when it was on the tree bark plus the shade helped with the photo. Like ‘our’ H. Semele Graylings it was doing its “you can’t see me routine”, keeping its forewing tucked in behind the hind-wing and blending in with its background. In all I saw three or four of these butterflies with their fast jerky flight followed by dropping to ground. The third shot shows an eye-spot flash (only partial in this pic) when Graylings feel their camouflage has been rumbled.
A 2017.08.15 IMG_9505 Hipparchia statilinus, Tree Grayling, off A-402 between La Alcaiceria & Alhama de Granada t.jpg
B 2017.08.15 IMG_9513 Hipparchia statilinus, Tree Grayling, off A-402 between La Alcaiceria & Alhama de Granada t.jpg
C 2017.08.15 IMG_9528 Hipparchia statilinus, Tree Grayling, off A-402 between La Alcaiceria & Alhama de Granada t0.jpg
D 2017.08.15 IMG_9531 Tree Grayling habitat, province Alhama de Granada.jpg
Tree Grayling habitat

While searching the thicker shadier part of the scrub I saw another brown butterfly but was only able to get this blurred record shot. I’m certain it is Maniola jurtina hispula the Meadow Brown. I’d seen this sub-species in the Ariege region of Southern France.
E 2017.08.15 IMG_9542 Maniola jurtina hispula, Meadow Brown, off A-402 between la Alcaiceria & Alhama de Granada.jpg

Climbing back up the embankment and walking inside the crash barrier to get back to the car I spotted yet another Brown butterfly this time noticeably smaller. Again, it dived into the shade for cover and settled at an obtuse angle. This was another lifer, Coenonympha dorus, the Dusky Heath :D .
F 2017.08.15 IMG_9554 Coenonympha dorus, Dusky Heath, A-402 on way to Alhama de Granada t.jpg
G 2017.08.15 IMG_9558 Coenonympha dorus, Dusky Heath, A-402 on way to Alhama de Granada.jpg


Continuing on I arrived at Alhama de Granada a sleepy picturesque town in the heat of early afternoon.
H 2017.08.15 P1280470 Alhama de Granada.jpg

There was barely any sign of life (time of day) until I went into a bar for lunch and walked into a ‘wild-west saloon’, a vibrant and colourful atmosphere of noise and activity :o . The Spanish are very sociable people in their restaurants & café bars. The serrano ham; olives and battered King Prawns were delicious and reasonably priced too, being away from the coastal tourist areas :) .
Body re-hydrated and appetite satiated I continued my journey along the A-402 then onto the A-338 through the rolling hills stopping wherever I thought I might encounter butterflies and to take pictures of the countryside. 8)
After leaving the A-402 and taking the A-338 My next big stop was by a reservoir at Panatano de los Bermajales. The water was a bright cerulean blue and the evidence suggested that it had retreated substantially from where it’s normal level would be.
I 2017.089.15 P1030579 Tower at Emblase de los Bermajales.jpg
J 2017.089.15 P1030574 Embalse (Resevoir) de los Bermajales, Adonis blue territory.jpg

In blistering heat, I searched the parched ground and scrub, encountering loads of grasshoppers the odd fly-by Small Whites but not much else. Eventually persistence paid off when I came across a blue butterfly which initially excited me as I thought I was onto something new. However, it turned out to be a male Adonis blue, (Polyommatus bellargus), a first for the holiday. His wings remained clamped shut with only the briefest glimpses of the blue as he gyrated his hindwings wings in the way that many of the small lycaenid butterflies often do. The butterfly was smaller than the ones I see at home with larger spotting and (perhaps) bolder black banding on the fringes.
K 2017.08.15 IMG_9570 Polyommatus bellargus, Adonis Blue, Emblase de los Bermajales t m.jpg
L 2017.08.15 IMG_9581 Antlion, Emblase de los Bermajales.jpg
Antlion imago’s seen frequently on my forays

The heat was starting to take its toll again so I made my way back to the car, and then came across another butterfly a Scarce Swallowtail, (Iphiclides podalirius absolutely no doubt about this one). I followed its somewhat lazy effortless floating yet progressive flight, as it sailed over the tops of scrubby trees, looking like it would land but not doing so :( . Unfortunately, I would have to wait for another time to get a picture. This species I had seen in France again without a confirmatory picture, …. but definitely not a lifer.

Driving across a dam bridge into a Pantano de los Bermajales I considered stopping again but there were a lot of people cars and cyclists around so I decided it would be better to keep moving. The A-338 turned onto the GR-3302 and I had a drink stop in Jayena at the hostal restaurant El Nota, where I was twice served Tapas with my cokes but refused the second one not realising they were free :oops: . The serrano ham went the bin :shock: .

I planned to take the GR-3302 to the junction with the A-4050 then head south to eventually get back on the A-7 “Autovia del Mediterraneo” heading west. In between Jayena and the A-4050 junction whilst driving through a landscape criss-crossed with olive trees, I found another place to pull in and look for butterflies.
In the dry exposed areas, except for a lone Brown Argus there was nothing but grasshoppers. However, under the shade of a tree, I came across lots more Brown Argus obviously sheltering from the heat :o . A few metres further on were some small bushes, the flowers which looked like Alyssum. One bush in particular was attracting Common and Adonis Blues and (Southern) Brown Argus.
M 2017.08.15 IMG_9593 Aricia aegestis (cramera), Stop-off on the GR-3302 t.jpg
N 2017.08.15 IMG_9598 Scrubby allysum & Lycaenids, GR-3302 stop-off.jpg
O 2017.08.15 IMG_9602 Polyommatus bellargus, Adonis Blue, GR-3302 stop-off t.jpg
P 2017.08.15 IMG_9606 Polyommatus bellargus, Adonis Blue, GR-3302 stop-off.jpg


On the A-4050 the Olive groves had given way to conifers and rocky scrub land. Some of the conifers showed signs of being fire scorched. I pulled into the Restaurant Refugio de Piedra (again an oasis of unexpected human activity in a landscape of seeming emptiness) for yet another liquid top-up before making my way across the road to explore the ‘conifer heath’. Noticeable straight away was the fact that all the conifer trees in the vicinity were being tapped for their resin :o . The collecting buckets contained small volumes of the resin and varying amounts of “crud”. I believe it’s used for Turpentine production for both for the paints and pharmaceuticals industries.
Q 2017.08.15 IMG_9623 Resin tapping of conifer, off A-4050.jpg

It wasn’t long before I put up a large ‘ground butterfly’ but this time it wasn’t a Tree Grayling but a rather more handsome looking Striped Grayling, Pseudotergumia fidia, my 5th lifer for the day :D .
R 2017.08.15 IMG_9628 Pseudotergumia fidia, Striped Grayling, conifer heath off A-4050.jpg
Throughout my searching of that area I probably came across 4 different Striped Graylings. They showed typical Grayling behaviour in as much as once airborne, they would try and land somewhere where they could rely on their camouflage. This habitat offered them plenty of choice. Sometimes they ‘blended-in’ with the rocks but once found were easier to photo. Others went into the brush were difficult to get to and avoid the annoying strands of herbage that spoils many a shot :| .
S 2017.08.15 P1030586 Striped Grayling habitat off the A-4050.jpg
Striped Grayling habitat
T 2017.08.15 IMG_9632 Striped Grayling A-4050 stop-off t.jpg
U 2017.08.15 IMG_9640 Pseudotergumia fidia, Striped Grayling in the brush, off A-4050.jpg
V 2017.08.15 IMG_9642 Pseudotergumia fidia, Striped Grayling, off.jpg

There were the usual suspects like Brown Argus present too, plus a strange looking plant that looked like a pine cone growing directly out of the ground (any ideas :?: )
W 2017.08.15 IMG_9637 Aricia agestis Brown Argus, off A4050 t.jpg
X 2017.08.15 P1030603 Cones growing out of the ground, conifer heathland off A-4050.jpg

Another large brown butterfly was to capture my attention and add another to my life list: - a Rock Grayling Hipparchia alcyone :D perched halfway up a tree trunk (the Tree Graylings I’d seen earlier in the day spent most of their time on the rocky ground).
Y 2017.08.15 P1030605 Hipparchia alcyone, Rock Grayling, conifer heath off A-4050 t.jpg
taken with the FZ-72 on zoom .. I couldn’t get near it

The heat wasn’t so bad by then but I still had a long way to go to get back to Las Farolas so I decided it was time to call it a day. Most of my Striped Grayling shots were not quite ‘on the money’ or the examples had wing damage (like the one below) so in hindsight I wished I’d squeezed in a bit more time with them :| .
Z 2017.08.15 IMG_9654 Pseudotergumia fidia, Striped Grayling, off.jpg
ZA 2017.08.15 P1030624 Pseudotergumia fidia, Striped Grayling, conifer heath off A-4050.jpg


As I progressed along the A-4050 heading south to meet up with the A-7 (Autovia del Mediterraneo) the landscape changed to beautiful scenic limestone mountains as the roads skirted the edge of the National Park Sierras de Tejeda. 8)
ZB 2017.08.15 P1030638 Sierras de Tejeda national park off A-4050.jpg
ZC 2017.08.15 P1030647 Sierras de Tejeda national park off A-4050.jpg
tempted to explore ... perhaps another time?

The challenging twisty bits gradually straightened out as the road descended and soon I was approaching the A-7 ….. only with around 200m difference in elevation :shock: . No intersection, as I drove under the ‘motorway’ I hadn’t reckoned on this :? . The road then seemed to go on forever but eventually after going through Alumnecar town centre I found my way out on the N-340 back to the A-7 and westwards to home :D . An absolutely cracking day out :D :!: .
In my absence, the ladies had taken the half-price ticket for the dolphin boat trip … and had got good sightings of dolphins :D . Win win all round 8) .

Phil

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David M
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby David M » Sun Sep 24, 2017 4:24 pm

Lovely reportage there, Phil, and I'm envious of both your Striped and Tree Graylings as I have yet to see either!

Philzoid
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby Philzoid » Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:42 pm

David M wrote:Lovely reportage there, Phil, and I'm envious of both your Striped and Tree Graylings as I have yet to see either!

Thanks David :)
Our semele Grayling is one of my top ten butterflies and the ones abroad don’t disappoint either :) . Their habit of sitting tight and relying on their camouflage gives you a fighting chance of seeing them up close, and marvelling at their cryptic coloration. Also, like the skippers and the blues there’s some fun to be had for the inexperienced like me in working out what they are. I’m hoping one-day (perhaps when the kids have finished their schooling) I can take my holidays at more optimal times, or if not take a drive up the Sierra Nevada :) .

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David M
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby David M » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:55 pm

Philzoid wrote:
Our semele Grayling is one of my top ten butterflies and the ones abroad don’t disappoint either :) . Their habit of sitting tight and relying on their camouflage gives you a fighting chance of seeing them up close, and marvelling at their cryptic coloration.


Agree entirely. This genus behaves very intriguingly, and as you say, their camouflage dictates a good deal of that behaviour.

Next year, I shall be dipping my toes into Spain for the first time, and I hope I will derive as much satisfaction as you have during your recent trip.

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Wurzel
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby Wurzel » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:18 pm

This was an epic trip Philzoid, I could almost taste the Serrano ham and feel the blistering heat 8) The Striped Grayling are very handsome butterflies and topped with the cracking typical Grayling behaviour makes me wonder if they were the favourite of your trip - they would certainly make it to my top 5 :D :mrgreen: :mrgreen:, though still below anything Hedge Brown related :wink: :lol:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

Philzoid
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby Philzoid » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:42 am

That aberrant Hedge Brown takes some beating Wurzel :shock: as do those Brown Hairstreaks :mrgreen: :mrgreen: . That spot at Shipton comes up trumps year on year: it’s a shame I couldn’t make it this time :( .

It’s difficult to say which was my favourite :? . I suppose in truth it was the Swallowtail … but only just. The way it flew around me and let me get in close to photograph was brilliant :D . I only wished I’d taken some video too :roll: . All the Graylings were a challenge and fun as Graylings are. The Striped is a handsome beastie (whose coloration perfectly matched both the rocks and scrub) and comes a very close second :D .

Phil

Chris Jackson
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby Chris Jackson » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:19 pm

Hi Phil,
For your "pine cone growing directly out of the ground" mentioned above and copied here:
sans-titre.png
sans-titre.png (298.56 KiB) Viewed 158 times

I suggest Leuzea conifera
which in plain language is Pinecone Thistle.
I see this also in the South of France. They are more spectacular and glossy when they are less dried up.
Chris
https://sites.google.com/site/mespapill ... baume/home
Note: My photos are not covered by copyright. Please feel free to copy for charitable use.

Philzoid
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Re: Holiday to Spain 2017 Part 5c

Postby Philzoid » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:02 pm

Chris Jackson wrote:I suggest Leuzea conifera which in plain language is Pinecone Thistle.
Thanks very much Chris :) . The plant is aptly named. It's the flower bracts that make it look like a pine cone. I've googled it and agree that they look better in their growth phase. This one has already gone to seed.

Phil


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