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Llanos del Libar in March

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Offline Sue

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« on: March 25, 2009, 13:36 PM »
On a week day, to ensure tranquillity, we drove to the 'Llanos del Libar' on the eastern side of the Sierra de Grazalema. (South West Andalucía) We had a hot tip (thanks Brenda) to visit the far end of this high valley during March to see this, already impressive, meadow location adorned with blooms of narcissi and chamomile.

The earlier weather conditions favoured a major display. A damp start to the spring had flooded the meadow allowing the narcissi bulbs to give it their all. A sea of yellow flowers interspersed with glades of white spanned the area before us, edged by tightly grazed green pastures and flanked by steep limestone cliffs. Scattered through the short grasses on our approach were occasional blue Grape hyacinth and many pink Andaluz Storksbill, with one tiny lone Conical orchid that had somehow escaped bovine mandibles, as we walked, several Spanish Psammodromus' scuttled into hiding places, their sunbathing temporarily disturbed. Include with this the Short-toed eagles and Black-eared Wheat-ear which had probably just crossed from Africa, resident Griffon vultures and Southern Grey shrike, we were quite content with our findings so far, but decided to investigate the marshy area from where many Iberian water frogs were calling.

As we walked along the stream that had etched a very shallow course, several tiny frogs plopped into the water to hide. Clive noticed some spawn that was part in, part out of the diminishing water. Many of the eggs had perished in the sun but a few had recently hatched into extremely black, tiny tadpoles and had congregated in large numbers. Continuing along we found several patches of the spawn, more of which was sun baked than healthy. The singing was getting stronger as we neared the end of this meadow at a fence line. The area being flat, we could not really tell what we were approaching as we picked our way through the wild flowers. Two ponds sat side by side, one shallow with a few small splooshing frogs could not be the source of all the noise, but of course on our approach it fell silent. The second pond was over a metre deep however and flowing well with a separate cool supply of spring water. Only a small patch remained free of water plants and in this a huge tadpole swam. It took a moment to spy the many large Iberian water frogs that were observing us from the water's surface. There must have been many more, with just eyes above the water line, that we did not see.

Clive began to wander and look in the nooks and crannies of the rocks around the water edge to see what was around. To our surprise his first find was a Stripeless Tree Frog, this meadow is a little over 1000metre in altitude and it was a good distance to the nearest tree or shrub! These have to be my favourite amphibian and luckily it didn't mind posing for some pictures.

Clive then discovered three Natterjack toads huddled together under a rock, some more photos were taken before carefully replacing their roof. This specie was probably the source of the spawn we had been seeing. A return visit in a few weeks should reveal larger tadpoles or 'toadlets' to confirm their id. A further water dwelling creature was not identified. Probably a newt, but just one that we could not get close to and with no obvious markings, colour or shape to go by it remains a mystery.

Marsh Chamomile (Chamaemelum fuscatum)
Narcissus fernandesii (growing on the damp meadow)
Andaluz Storksbill (Erodium primulaceum)
Romulea (Romulea bulbocodium)
Grape hyacinth (Muscari neglectum)
Conical Orchid (Orchis conica)
White Asphodel (Asphodelus albus)
Ornithogalum reverchonii (growing in the sheer rock faces)
Narcissus cuatrecasasii (growing in the sheer rock faces)
Intermediate periwinkle (Vinca difformis)

Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia)
Black Redstart (Pheonicurus ochruros)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)
Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)
Little Owl (Athene noctua) (Heard only)
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) (Heard only)

Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus)
Natterjack Toad (Epidalia calamita) [formerly Bufo calamita]
Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis)
Iberian water Frog (Pelophylax perezi) [formerly Rana perezi]
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 13:42 PM by Sue »
Thinking of visiting the beautiful Sierra de Grazalema in Andalucia?

Offline parthenope

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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2009, 22:03 PM »
Hi Sue,

What a great spot & a great read, I can't wait to see it for myself in a "few weeks" time when I hope to join the search for the large tadpoles!


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Offline John C

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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2009, 23:42 PM »
Great pictures and a description to match.  I can't wait to get back out there next week!


Offline nick

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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2009, 00:20 AM »
Great post, and those photos are full of spring!
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Offline lucy

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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2009, 10:41 AM »
It really is a "sea of yellow flowers" - beautiful!

Offline andyj

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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2009, 13:48 PM »
Looks like an excellent spot.
What is the access like? Is it open to the public?  Im coming over in teh first week of June and on the lookout for nice places to visit in that general area.

Offline Sue

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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2009, 21:09 PM »
It really is a lovely spot and you'll notice PeterJ refers to this as his favourite mountain track for birding.

this area can be accessed by car except for the last stretch. It is open to the public, this is why we would prefer to go on a week day. The track can be a bit rough in pàtches, so choose a car with good ground clearance  :biggrin:
Thinking of visiting the beautiful Sierra de Grazalema in Andalucia?