It was the last full day today for my three guest from Oxfordshire, Alan, Dave and Martin. They wanted an early start and an early finish so that could do some 'rubber-necking' in the afternoon around the village.
Several species were missing from the list so we decided to go to the wonderful natural park at Sierra de las Nieves near Ronda to see if we could add any new ones.
|Black Wheatear a common sight in the rocky gorges|
We arrived around 8:15am and parked near the entrance where open meadows dotted with scrub, fir trees and picnic tables can be found. A Hoopoe was the first bird seen, it was feeding on the grass verge of the car park, a nice start. A short walk produced our first Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits, we also saw Linnets, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting and we had our first sighting of a Common Cuckoo.
|Libelloides coccajus - this rare beautiful little flying insect - often called the 'owly-sulphur' - was seen in good numbers today|
We then drove a couple of kilometres into the park and stopped in a cork oak wood, our intention was to walk for a couple hours looking for new species and then return to the car for the drive back to Gaucin.
In the woods we found European Robin, Bonelli's Warbler, Blackcap, Jay, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and we heard a Common Nightingale. As we progressed along the track the landscape changed, we moved out of the woods and into a steep-sided rugged gorge which then opened out to a flat plateau of rocky scrub.
As the landscape changed so did the species of birds, we were now finding Black Wheatears, Northern Wheatears, Common Stonechats, Linnets, Cirl Buntings and Red-billed Chough. A section of heathland produced Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and more Stonechats. We also found Serins and higher up we saw Lesser Kestrels and Griffon Vultures.
We then walked higher into mature pine woods where we encountered, Eurasian Nuthatch, Firecrest, Coal Tit, Crested Tit and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk.
It was now starting to cloud over but it stayed quite warm , we spent quite a lot of time looking at butterflies, we must have seen 15-20 species with some nice ones catching our eye, we saw: three Fritillary, Queen-of-Spain, Knapweed and Marsh, plus Rock Grayling, Dusty Heath, Black-veined White, Cleopatra, Clouded Yellow, Dusky Meadow Brown, Spanish Gatekeeper, Sage Skipper and several others.
Our return journey was quite a lot quicker but we did stop to look at more birds and butterflies, we added Sardinian, Melodious and Spectacled Warblers to our list and kept a constant eye on the skyline looking for Eagles, we found only Booted Eagle and more Chough.
|the final walk of the trip - back to the car|
After our coffee we drove back to Gaucin to finish the tour, it was 3pm when we got back and the guys wanted to visit the castle and walk around the village before dinner, the birding tourists, ha!