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A Report from

Andalucia, Spain. 26/04/03 - 10/05/03,

Steve and Sue Wilce.


Flew from Cardiff Airport with BMI Baby.( £100.00 Return).
Car Hire from Malaga Cars (Ford Focus) ( 150.00Eu /Week).
Accommodation from Andalucia Rentals (  350Eu/Week).
Booked via the Internet

Arrived at Malaga Airport at 2.30 pm, weather warm and sunny, picked up the hire car which was waiting for us on our arrival and drove to our accommodation at  Cortes de la Frontera Estachion. Found the converted mill we were staying at down a steep drive at the edge of the village. Picked up supplies from the local shop in the village. The choice of food was very limited.

Noticed Red Rumped Swallows flying in the mill garden and heard Nightingales singing.

27/04/07            Sunny and very warm.

About a mile outside Cortes de la Frontera  on the A373 road to Ubrique,  beneath a mountain with obvious twin peaks we pulled in to see  raptors flying above. As we watched Griffon Vultures and Black Kites soaring overhead 30+ Bee Eaters flew past, also seen in the vicinity: Red Rumped Swallows, Cirl Bunting, Sardinian Warbler and Common Kestrel. Further along the road we pulled in opposite a work  shop type building where there were Spotless Starlings. About two miles further on there is a huge rock above which, there were 50+ Griffon Vultures soaring along with 3 Bonelli's Eagles.

At subsequent intervals, along this road (all near rocky outcrops) we came across, Stonechats, three Black Redstarts, one in full breeding plumage, Long Tailed Tits, Robin, Woodchat Shrike, Grey  and Pied Wagtail, Corn Buntings, Blackcap, Serin, Golden Oriole, Red Rumped Swallows, Sand, House and Crag Martins.

28/04/03              Hot and sunny

Woke up to the sound of Nightingales and a Golden Oriole singing in the Mill garden, also a Cuckoo calling nearby.

Cueva de la Pileta (On the road from Cortes de la Frontera to Benojan)

We climbed from the Car Park up to the cave entrance and  watched Crag Martins flying below us, also Serin, Black Wheatear, Spotless Starling, Red Billed Chough and Kestrel were in the vicinity of the cave. The caves are well worth a visit to see the prehistoric Wall Paintings, some 27,000 years old. We stopped for lunch at a lay-by just up the road from the caves and a Golden Eagle floated above us.

Walked from Benojan Estachion, along river towards Jimera de libar. We came across a Serin feeding two young in the olive groves whilst nearby a Firecrest came to within 5 feet of us, our closest views ever! This walled area was very productive for birds and we saw our only Magpie of the trip here, along with Jay, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Nightingales and a Lesser Whitethroat. 

Walked south from Jimera de libar Estachion along a track under the road bridge following the railway line. A Cuckoo flew across the path. Also present were Serin, Woodchat Shrike and two enormous crickets. From here we travelled to Ataiate and came out on the road from Ronda to Algatocin. Along this road we saw 20 Black Kites and numerous Griffons Vultures.

29/04/03   Sunny with some cloud, still very warm.

We took a circuitous route today. Our objective was Los Reales, following the road from Cortes de la Frontera, through Algatocin towards Jubrique and on to the 559 road to Los Reales.

In the woods behind the  Augustin Refuge we noticed Short Toed Tree Creepers, Coat Tits and Crested Tits. We walked further on towards the view  point over Gibraltar and the coast of Africa, but unfortunately it was very cloudy and the view was not good. A couple of Griffon Vultures floated by, but not much else of note was seen here today.

From Los Reales we took the road to Estapona and on to the toll road  (E15) to Manilva and from there, the 377 road  to Casares. Just before the town there is a rocky outcrop and around here were flying 10 Black Kites and numerous Griffon Vultures.  We managed to get a parking space in the town itself, although these spaces are very limited. There is a parking area signposted but access is hazardous, through very narrow bends and down an extremely steep hill. We walked through steep streets up to the ruined castle at the top of the hill and were rewarded by fantastic views all around, but even better were the tremendous views of Lesser Kestrels swooping around the cliffs and landing on ledges below us. To add icing to the cake a Short Toed Eagle flew low over our heads. Spotless Starlings were everywhere, on the roofs of houses and the cliff face.

Rio Genal (between Casares and Gaucin) There is a right hand turn just after the bridge which takes you down to the bank of the river. From here we walked alongside the river for a good distance. Along with most of the common birds there were 2 Little Ringed Plover in the gravel in the centre of the river, Pied and Grey Wagtails, Serin, Woodchat Shrike and 10 Bee Eaters. This is a regular spot for Bee Eaters, we saw them on every occasion we visited the riverbed during the fortnight. On the way home along the 369 we pulled in to watch 2 Golden Eagles for about five minutes.

30/4/03 Cloudy with long sunny periods and warm.


There was a lot of road works on the twisty road up to Ronda, which slowed our progress somewhat.  Having heard of the pitfalls of driving through the town we parked at the earliest opportunity in a side road just by the walled entrance gate and proceeded on foot towards the gorge. Decided not to take our telescopes on this occasion. From the bridge, looking down into the gorge and the walkway along side, we saw our first ever Rock Buntings and Blue Rock Thrush, although we had to wait a long time for the latter and had almost given up hope when it appeared at the bottom of the gorge (viewed from the bridge)Also present were Lesser Kestrel, Chough, Serin, Crag Martins, Common Swift, Alpine Swift and Pallid Swift, (another first).

Sierra de las Nieves - Los Quejigales

From Ronda we intended to drive towards Campillos and Fuente de Piedra but took a wrong turning (very easily done as signposts seem to just run out) and ended up on the A376 towards San Pedro. This turned out to be very fortunate as we decided to make the best of it and try a nearby site recommended in Where to Watch Birds in Southern and Western Spain - Los Quejigales - which turned out to be a cracking area for birds and we revisited it twice more during the trip. On the 10K drive up a rough road we pulled in  to watch a Bonnelli's Eagle, also saw Skylark, Coal tits a pair of Subalpine Warblers and a Jay. At the camping site at the top, birds were in abundance, everywhere we looked there was something: Rock Bunting, bathing in a little stream within five feet of us, Cirl Bunting, Subalpine Warblers, Grt Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Willow Warbler, Serin, Melodious Warbler, Red Legged Partridge,Woodchat Shrike and Southern Grey Shrike amongst many other common species.

01/05/03 Warm and sunny, some cloud

Tour from Cortes de la Frontera to Ubrique, Grazelema and Puerto de las Palomas

At Benaocaz we saw a wild mountain goat on the side of a very steep rock face. On looking down the valley from the viewpoint we observed Woodchat Shrike, Greenfinch and Blackcap.

About a mile further along, as the road climbs towards Villaluenga del Rosario, check the telegraph wires and fences along the valley floor; we saw Southern Grey Shrike, Rock Thrush and Woodchat Shrike.On the highest point of the road we stopped by an information board and walked a track for 200 yards, this area was alive with birds: Blue Rock Thrush, Serin, Black Wheatear, Black Eared Wheatear, Thekla Lark, Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting, Subalpine Warbler and Stonechats. Chough and Booted Eagle flew around the cliffs opposite.  Also there were Swallowtail Butterflies. On the other side of the village as the road climbed, we saw Rock Thrush and Blue Rock Thrush on the telegraph wires. A mile or so further on, as the valley flattens out there were numerous Bee Eaters on the wires alongside the road, also a Bonelli's Eagle drifted overhead.

Passed through Grazelema and on to Puerto de las Palomas. Spectacular  scenery to be seen along this road. Directly opposite the viewpoint, park your car and walk the track running across the mountainside for 200 yards until a reservoir comes into view. In this area we had excellent views of a pair of Rock Thrushes, Rock Bunting, two Short Toed Eagles, numerous Griffon Vultures and Chough.

02/05/03 Sunny and very hot

Jimena de la Frontera

On the road just outside the town we saw three Honey Buzzards. We took the track from the town towards the T.V Repeater Station but it was too rough for any vehicle other than a four wheel drive and we had to turn back, which was a shame because it looked very promising, however, we did come across Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Bee Eaters and Bonelli's Eagle in the first half mile.

On A369 travelling south toward Castellar de la Frontera there were White Storks nesting on the pylons alongside the road. On the road up to Castillo de Castellar a Hoopoe flew in front of the car. We parked just below the town overlooking the reservoir and saw 2 Ravens overhead and Corn Buntings on the wires. It was far too hot for bird watching (38C) so we made our way back to the mountains and cooler air.

03/05/03 Sunny and very warm

Fuenta de la Piedra

At the lake there were approx 8,000 Greater Flamingos, we also saw Gull Billed Terns, Whiskered Terns, B H Gulls, BlackT.Godwits, L.R.Plovers, Kentish Plovers, B.W. Stilts, Avocets, Lapwings and Marsh Harriers were hunting around the lake fringes. At the small laguna adjacent to the visitor centre there were C.Sandpiper, W.Sandpiper, Little Egret, Redshank, Gadwall, Coot and Moorhens.

Laguna Dulce.

Similar birds seen as above plus a Great Reed Warbler and Linnets.

Teba Gorge

At the foot of the gorge (on the bridge with rusty iron railings) the following birds were observed: Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martins, Sand Martins, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Chough and Griffon Vultures floated overhead. On the opposite side of the road there is a track down through the olive groves, here we saw Corn Buntings, Gold Finches, Linnets, Crested Larks, Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove, Cirl Bunting and there were 5 Yellow Wagtails bathing in a puddle.

04/05/03 Very sunny, warm and breezy

Embalse del Guardalcacin.

Take the A375 road from Cortes de la Frontera to Puerto de Galis. Past Puerto de Galis we took the approach road to the reservoir. Along this road we saw 2 Golden Eagles, 2 Booted Eagles, Common Buzzard, Griffon Vultures, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and a Nightingale, 30+ Bee Eaters flew over. At the lower arm of the reservoir there were Little Egret and Woodchat Shrike. On a old derelict building further along there was a White Stork on a nest with two or three young.

From here we drove to Arcos de la Frontera and after a search we found the Embalse de Arcos. This turned out to be a very good area for birds especially Purple Gallinule. We saw at least five close up, one with young. There were also several Purple Heron, Cattle Egrets, B.W.Stilts, G.C.Grebe, Cirl Buntings and a  Spotted Flycatcher. Three Marsh Harriers (two male and one female) flew around all the time we were there. On the way home on the A375 we saw a Peregrine Falcon.

05/05/03 Warm and sunny most of the day with rain in the evening.

Algeciras area

Took the road towards Algerciras looking for the road from Los Barrios to Facinas but failed to find it because of major road works. White Storks were nesting on nearly every pylon just before San Roque. Also saw 100+ Griffon Vultures on the road to Benalup from Algeciras.

Decided to head south to La Janda. We took the turning at Venta de la Retin just after Tahivilla. On the main canal and surrounding fields we saw up to 100 Cattle Egrets, also 30 White Storks, 10 Collared Pratincoles, 30 Turtle Doves, Fan Tailed Warblers, Little Egrets, Corn Buntings, Purple Herons, Linnets, 20 Calandra Larks and a female Montagues' Harrier. Rain came in and we had to leave early because of poor visibility, but in fine weather this site would warrant further investigation.

06/05/03 Rain during night, overcast in morning with sunny periods, a lot cooler.

Walk from Benojan Estachion towards Ronda and the Cueva del Gato.

At the start of the walk, in trees at the main bridge over the river we saw three Golden Orioles and over the duration of the walk (2 miles) we saw the following: Sardinian Warbler, Nightingale, Serin, Common Sandpiper, Turtle Doves, Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagles, Blue Rock Thrush, Spotless Starling and 2 Ravens Alpine Swifts and Crag Martins flew in and out of the cave entrance. On the road above the river we saw Black Kites, Woodchat Shrike and Golden Orioles.

07/05/03 Fine and sunny first thing, but rain in the afternoon.

Los Quejigales

Return trip made to this area because of the variety of birds and stunning scenery.

About 3K from the main road junction, down the track there is an obvious stream, we parked here and walked the track to the left of the stream. This is a reliable site for Subalpine Warblers; we saw a few pairs. While walking the track an Egyptian  Mongoose crossed the path in front of us.  We returned to the car and carried on the main track to the campsite. Birds here included: Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Crested Tit, Black Redstart, G. S. Woodpecker, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Serin, Rock Thrush, Woodchat Shrike, Sparrowhawk, Red Legged Partridge, Linnet, Jay, Coal Tit.

While crossing the campsite car park a bird flew in front of us about 50 yards away, flying low with shallow wing beats. Initially our thoughts were Cuckoo, but the bird returned, flying a lot closer and we could clearly see it was a Red Necked Nightjar. It flew into the woods where we had intended to walk, and we heard its unmistakeable call and saw it again perched on a branch of a pine tree. Unfortunately rain came in on a strong wind, forcing us to leave.

08/05/03 Overcast in morning, sunny later

Los Quejigales

Returned to look for Warblers, in particular Bonelli's. After much searching we found one in the scrub near the car park. Also saw Woodlark, Thekla Lark, Mistle Thrush and Short Toed Treecreeper along with numerous other birds.

While walking through the alpine meadow above the car park three wild horses played and ran around us. This area is obviously good for Red Necked Nightjar, with numerous calls heard, but none seen on this occasion. The meadows were full of wild flowers and Orchids and are well worth visiting for these alone.

09/05/03 Sunny and hot

Rio Genal

On the riverbed, feeding amongst the gravel, we saw Little Ringed Plovers, further on, turning a bend we surprised a Night Heron  which gave us excellent views. In this area were Golden Oriole, Serin, Sardinian Warblers, Bee Eaters and a Goshawk flew overhead. On the way home from a pull in just past the Cortes de la Frontera  turn-off we saw a mini passage taking place with hundreds of Honey Buzzards and Black Kites passing over. Also Booted Eagles and many Griffon Vultures.

Returned home to the Mill to relax prior to our flight home the following day. As we sat in the garden Nightingales and Golden Orioles sang and a Spotted Flycatcher flew around us. A Kingfisher flew up the river and through the garden and a Cetti's Warber showed well.

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