Another superb day of excellent birding with some quality bird sightings and fantastic scenery, the weather wasn't bad either.
Simon came down to breakfast at 7am, Dawn didn't make it so we ate quickly and off we went. Just outside of Gaucin we picked up John, my friend from American who is staying in the village for the summer.
|Short-toed Eagle - Bob's pic above and Simon's below|
Our first stop was down at the river at Estacion de Cortes, a Grey Heron was our first bird which was quickly followed by White Wagtail and then Little Ringed Plover. Our walk along the river produced some lovely sightings, a family party of Woodchat Shrikes entertained us for a while as did a nice view of Rock Sparrow. We also found many common species including our first sighting of Common Nightingale.
At the dam there were more Little Ringed Plovers, a Kingfisher, Serins, Goldfinches, Spotless Starlings and at least 4 Short-toed Eagles showed up and plenty of Griffon Vultures. AS good number of swifts were coming down to drink with Barn and Red-rumped Swallows. We identified Common and Pallid Swifts and suddenly I got on to a WHITE RUMPED SWIFT! What a great find, the bird came down to drink and promptly disappeared, my fellow birders, Simon and John, only got brief glimpses of the bird.Just after the swift sighting a couple of Bonelli's Eagles drifted over the hillside and circled above us, wow, another great species within a couple of minutes of the first one!
|Woodchat Shrikes - Bob|
Next we drove up to Montejaque and spent a couple of superb hours walking the track and scanning the magnificent limestone mountains that are a fantastic feature of the valley. We quickly found Alpine Swift, Black Redstart, Corn Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush and yet another pair of Bonelli's Eagles (that is six individuals in two days), amazing. Further along the track we had lovely views of Serins, Linnets, Stonechats, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and a single Black Wheatear. We ate our lunch back at the car sitting on a concrete bench whilst watching Alpine Swifts, Griffon Vultures and Spanish Ibex up on the mountainsides.
|record shots of Spectacled Warbler - Bob|
After a brief coffee stop John left us and headed off home on his motorbike whilst we set off for Ronda. Simon spent a short while looking for Red-billed Chough from the famous bridge in the centre of Ronda whilst I waited on a double yellow line. Nothing showed up so we sped off to our last venue of the day which was the track at Encias de Borraches, some 10km south of Ronda.
We must have had a purple patch as everything we looked for turned up. As soon as we got out of the car and through the gate we found a Black-eared Wheatear, whilst we were watching that bird we found a Southern Grey Shrike in the background, number two of our target species. A short walk produced both Crested and Thekla larks, Corn Buntings, Stonechats, Linnets, Goldfinches and a single Red-billed Chough which was perched high up on the cliff face.
|Rock Thrush (archive) - Bob|
Next was our second mega of the day. We scanned a low lying rocky area near a dried up pool for Thekla larks and found instead a superb male ROCK THRUSH!!! How exciting was that?? The3 bird posed long enough for us to get out our cameras and promptly buggered off just as we focused them, what a shame.
It was quite windy out in the open valley so we didn't hold much hope of finding scrub warblers out on the heathland and after 30 minutes we were proved wrong. A male Spectacled Warbler sat up and sang whilst carrying a mouth full of food, it showed really well for a while and then dropped out of sight, Then a second male ROCK THRUSH flew over the top of us also carrying food, the bird disappeared over the heath as it headed for a cliff face, I am convinced that this was a second bird as the distance between sightings was quite a way.
Further searching of the heath produced at least two more Spectacled Warblers and a family party of Dartford Warblers, yet another one of our target species. This final sighting was the cue for us to head off for home but not before we watched another 3 Southern Grey Shrikes, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Kestrel, Red Deer and lots of butterflies. A great end to another superb day.