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Southern Spain August 2011

Home Forums Field Trips & Conservation Southern Spain August 2011

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    Getting around to processing a few pics from my holiday now. There are quite a lot so I’ll try not to ramble too much. Frigiliana and Nerja before driving to Granada for some tapas and beer! Here are a few pics, no fish habitats were visited so you’ll have to put up with a photo of our two ugly mugs which my missus insists be posted since she took it.

    The Alhambra, Granada:

    Er, us, limbering up for a few days in the countryside

    Attached files



    Next day we picked up our hire car and headed south towards Tarifa where we planned to camp the night. Some nice views of Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar on the way down:

    Our main mission was to visit as many of the ten known populations of Aphanius baeticus as possible and try to verify it’s presence. One is within a private part of the Doñana national park so out of our reach but the other 9 seemed achievable. We began at the Río de la Vega, Tarifa which was almost dry, as expected in August:

    Plenty of A. baeticus here though not in breeding condition/colouration at the moment. Adult male:

    Adult female:

    Ischnura sp.?

    I’ve visited this place on several previous occasions and always found the introduced crayfish Procambarus clarkii but happily not this time! Of the other fishes recorded there were lots of Cobitis paludica of all ages:

    Anguilla anguilla elver:

    …and this which I hadn’t seen before. Iberochondrostoma lemmingii maybe?? If not, any ideas?

    Finished the day with a look around Tarifa and it’s famous jetty with the Mediterranean Sea on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other. Here the Med side:

    Attached files






    Some other stuff from Tarifa – mostly just messing with new camera.

    Funnel web spider and nest (no idea on species):

    Bubulcus ibis (?) plus domestic cattle:

    Sunset over Tarifa beach:

    Dutchman attempts (and fails) to ‘build’ a self-constructing tent!

    Attached files



    Keep em coming Matt, looks like big fun! A part of the world I haven’t seen. Lovely!!



    Cheers Gustav and don’t worry Jim, there are plenty more! Triturus pygmaeus. We found the stream alright, following a few km of rough driving along a rocky track, but no newts unfortunately.

    Calopteryx sp.?

    Pelophylax perezi:

    Loads of egrets spotted on the drive back to civilisation:

    We stopped in the nice town of Zahara de los Atunes for lunch. Second time being here and second time failing to have a look in the river here – next time!

    Driving on towards Barbate we stopped to check the saline wetlands known locally as ‘Marismas’ because I’d been told we could find the introduced killifish Fundulus heteroclitus there, but all we got were marine gobies and shrimp, plus a recently deceased cetacean:

    We believe this to be a new species due to the unique distribution of comb-like teeth and caudal ‘nodule’:

    Last mission of the day was a walk around the pine forest on the cliffs between Barbate and Los Caños de Meca which is supposed to be one of the prime spots to see chameleon in southern Spain. Naturally, we failed miserably bringing to an end a largely unsuccessful but fun day:

    Locusta sp.? This was over 10 cm long:

    Attached files



    fantastic write up Matt, more please.



    Keep rambling on please



    Ok then. Conil de la Frontera and got up early the next day with the aim of checking three Aphanius populations in the vicinity. The first inhabits the ‘Arroyo Salado’ which drains into the Atlantic along Conil’s southern edge but before fishing we went to have a look at the fiddler crabs, Uca tangeri, that occur here in large numbers.

    Mouth of the Arroyo Salado at low tide:

    Uca tangeri habitat at low tide:

    U. tangeri:

    The spot where we took the photos seen from the other side of the river:

    Next stop was about 1km inland, where the river passes under a road bridge. Here we wanted to check that A. baeticus was still around:

    Having caught Aphanius on this side of the bridge before, we went underneath to the other side:

    Stefan netted a young fish almost immediately so we didn’t stay long. Sorry for poor photo.

    Crocothemis erythraea:

    Nice macrophyte beds all around the margins provide great habitat for young fishes, and we saw no introduced fish species here:

    Attached files



    Our next planned stop was the Río Roche, close to the port of Conil, where A. baeticus has been recorded within the last few years. It flows directly into the port and the lower reaches are totally saline:

    Lower Río Roche with port in background:

    Lots of large Liza here in the lower part and port:

    Just a few hundred metres upstream the river became reduced to a series of pools and trickles:

    Lots more Uca here which were brilliant to watch but we found no fishes in these pools so carried on walking:

    A little further on we rounded a bend to be greeted by this:

    Among all this were several small pools with the vegetation and lack of crabs suggesting less saline conditions, and indeed the water was only lightly brackish here. There were plenty of small fishes which unfortunately turned out to be a mixture of young atherinids and Gambusia:

    It was bl**dy hot by this point but we decided to keep going a little while further and after a couple of hundred metres came to a break in the water formed by a track crossing it, on the upstream side of which was this deep pool. At first glance it looked to be perfect Aphanius habitat:

    Suffice to say we dipped nets at least 30 or 40 times and caught only Gambusia, LOTS of Gambusia. We tried at a further two points upstream of the pool with the same result, so were unable to confirm the continued presence of A. baeticus at this location.

    On the way back to the car we noticed the tide coming in very quickly! Given we hadn’t actually considered this option before swanning about in the river bed we were lucky not to get caught out since the speed at which it happened was impressive:

    Compare this photo with the one taken at low tide above:

    Larus michahellis??

    Attached files



    Our last locality for the day was the Río Iro close to Chiclana de la Frontera. Plenty of fishes, but again mostly Gambusia with some atherinids and larger cyprinids in deeper water. We failed to find Aphanius here, too, and the place was pretty grotty in general with heavy siltation, signs of chemical pollution and lots of household waste about.

    Gambusia collected from the Río Iro. You can also see the poor clarity of the water here:

    Ischnura saharensis I think:

    Overall a fairly depressing day then. All three places we visited were confirmed localities of A. baeticus and we were even equipped with GPS coordinates. Obviously the efforts of two skinny white guys with relatively cheap equipment are far from sufficient to say the species no longer occurs at a given place but considering the effort we put in and the number of Gambusia found the situation for the latter two populations is, at best, not good. Jerez de la Frontera, a town famous for its dancing horses, sweet wine and vinegar. On the way there we spotted a large group of Ciconia ciconia (white stork) in a field by the road, most of which took to the sky as we jumped out of the car:

    Once in Jerez we got a recommendation from the chap in the hotel and ate arguably the best tapas we’d had all week, followed by our first real bed for four days. A positive end, at least!

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    QUOTE (Matt @ Sep 2 2011, 09:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Anyone know what this is? Colin??

    Spotted Flycatcher, not sure if there are similar spp. that pass through Spain from elsewhere in Europe.



    QUOTE (Matt @ Aug 31 2011, 01:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Ischnura sp.?

    Wings are in the wrong posture for Ischnura, I’d say Lestes.



    Thanks Pete.



    maybe needless to say, but I love the Cobitis

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