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A Report from

Southern Spain April 2003,

Philip Stidwell

26th April 2003

It was warm and sunny with light cloud as we made our way to Ronda on the A376 stopping at various intervals to scan the skies over the Sierra Bermeja.

As we climbed higher we took the MA518/ A369 toward Farajan/Alpandeire then on to Ronda. There views were spectacular along this route and we saw black wheatear, griffon vultures, booted and short-toed eagles, swallows, house martins and Sardinian warblers.

At Ronda village we parked in the tourist car park and joined the masses as they walked to the bridge here we saw red-billed choughs, lesser kestrels, alpine swifts, blue rock thrush and crag martins flying around the valley and through the bridge itself.

We left Ronda and made our way back to Fuengirola via the A366 to Coin/Alhaurin el Grande and with Roger driving it was an experience, (not to be repeated!) the road was narrow and had few areas to pull of the road. Along this route we caught up with goldfinches, house sparrows, blackbirds, stonechat, linnets, great grey and woodchat shrikes and little owl.

27th April 2003

This morning we set off for Algeciras on the N340 Costa. We took a right turn, (it was marked with a bird of prey sign), on dirt tracks to the Ojen valley between Algeciras and Tarifa surrounded by wind generators. It was sunny but very windy and we needed to don our sweaters.

By 5pm we had seen many birds of prey, peregrine falcon, eagles, vultures, a possible Bonelli's eagle and several kestrels. Small birds weren't in abundance stonechats and linnets were noticeable but very little else.

As we were about to leave waves of raptors came over the ridge. The birds were gliding close to the hillside, griffon and Egyptian vultures, black kites, short-toed eagles and honey buzzards. This movement lasted for two hours, after taking lots of photographs we made our way back to the hotel.

28th April 2003

A hazy start to the day but it soon warmed up and turned out to be the hottest day so far. We made our way Valle de Abdalajis on the A355/A343. On the way we saw crested larks and lots of corn buntings.

At Valle de Abdalajis we turned left for El Chorro. We found a suitable place to park off the road to wait for raptors. We only saw 4 more griffons and made our way to El Chorro itself here we came across the river Rio Guadalhorce. In the heat of the day we searched for a sheltered spot to watch for birds. The road was narrow with few spaces to pull in. Along the roadside we saw black wheatear, woodlark, grey herons, little egret, blue rock thrush, grey wagtail, red-billed chough, red-rumped swallow and serins.

Making our back on the MA444 at Ruinas de Bobastro, we encountered alpine swifts and bee-eaters.

Further along this route we saw more bee-eaters a jay, woodchat shrike and hoopoe. Here we stopped again to photograph.

For the first time this week we came across a decent size reservoir. Along the edge we saw 37 black-winged stilts.

29th April 2003

A misty day with very low cloud, we visited Los Alcornocales area again. When we arrived the griffon vultures were settled on the ground but after catching sight of us took off and glided into the air. We made our way to the top of the ridge, (which Roger and I named griffon ridge). Here we had a great view of the valley below and the mountains around. From this vantage point we could see if any raptors were making their way up either of the valleys.

Unlucky for us there wasn't much in the way of raptor movement today. During the afternoon we saw golden eagle, a probable resident, lesser kestrels, booted and short-toed eagles a distant marsh harrier, black kites and two white storks which Roger spotted. We were able to get photographs of griffon vultures as they roosted on the next ridge.

Making our way down from the ridge at the end of the day we saw blue rock thrush, Dartford warbler, wren, spotless starling, cuckoo, blackbirds and robins, as we made our way through the cork oaks Bonelli's warbler and short-toed treecreepers put in an appearance.

30th April 2003

We made a decision to go back to the Parque natural de los Alcornocales this time on the other side of the range, Jimena de la Frontera along the A369. At the junction to San Roque there were nesting white storks along the side of the road and bee-eaters.

After taking the usual photographs we ventured further inland to the ruined castle at the top of Jimena village, the roads were very narrow and winding but the trip was not worth it for birds although the views were great. We passed through the village after a brief stop and drove on to La Sauceda the scenery woods, valleys and mountains through this part of the parque was magnificent.

Stopping off at various parking places we saw spotted flycatcher, serin, Sardinian warblers, bee-eaters, woodchat shrike and 27 cattle egret.

As we descended to the valley we saw the ubiquitous griffon vultures and short-toed eagles. We followed the A381 back to Los Barrios but the birds were very scarce and the stopping places very few.

We decided to visit the marsh at Sotogrande before heading back to the hotel. We parked in the shade of the palm trees and walked along the boardwalk through the marsh. It was alive with bird song but we stayed only long enough to see great reed warbler.

Fuengirola itself was very busy; at each end of the town was a watercourse although the west side held little water at this time of the year. We walked each stretch but only managed to add white wagtail to our list.

In Fuengirola we saw pallid & common swifts, ring-necked parakeet, collared dove, common kestrel, house martin, blackbird, spotless starling and cattle egret.

Full Listing

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

Eurasian Griffon-vulture (Gyps fulvus)

Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus gallicus)

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Eurasian Collared-dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Little Owl (Athene noctua)

Alpine Swift (Apus melba)

Common Swift (Apus apus)

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)


Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

Crag Martin (Hirundo rupestris)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)

House Martin (Delichon urbica)

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata torquata)

Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura)

Blue Rock-thrush (Monticola solitarius)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Great Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)

Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli)

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)

Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)

Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)

Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

European Serin (Serinus serinus)

European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)


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