July 2014 – Serrania de Ronda

Serranía de Ronda, a vast area of rugged natural beauty. Guide for the day was ABS member Peter Jones, a gentleman who really knows his stuff and is always happy to share it. This time the trip report, in slideshow format, gives a good impression of what an ABS Field Meeting is really all about. The photos mainly show the happy faces of those ABS birders present and the countryside visited. No close up photos of lovely birds – including this time, amongst others three different eagles, Bonelli’s, Short-toed and Booted. To see bird photographs, we recommend visiting our photo-gallery where you can find many photographs of birds by our members

An early start for some of us to reach the meeting point by 0830hrs, however quite a few took the option of staying in Ronda the previous night – the more relaxed approach! Assembling in the car park of Venta la Vega the calling of at least 3 Golden Oriole interested the 17 plus members attending but as usual just a fleeting glimpse was all that was obtained.  Whilst the membership was scattered around in the elusive hunt a Peregrine Falcon flew high overhead seemingly on a mission.  Wood pigeon also flew over and we must of course include the Venta’s ostrich!

Setting off, with Peter Jones leading, in the direction of Montejaque  we used as few cars as possible, five to be precise. The first stop was to view half a dozen Griffon Vultures wheeling around and also recorded in the vicinity was House Sparrow, Greenfinch & Goldfinch.  On to Montejaque and the Libar valley area which is  gated and closed at the moment[fire risk] with full access on foot only.  However good birding on and near the first large exposed rock face produced nesting Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Dove, Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart,  Stonechat, House Martin, Great Tit, Spotless Starling & Sardinian Warbler.  All the while we were watching the rock face we were being observed by a very casual Ibex sitting way on top of the mountain range behind us. He certainly gave one of our members the full opportunity to use his very new, very long focal length lens!

Leaving the area we travelled back through the village and out via the Cortes de la Frontera road passing Cueva de la Pileta.  We stopped at all the available Miradors in the hunt for raptors.  The first sighting was of a dark phase Booted Eagle cruising in the far distance, Common Kestrel, Common & Pallid Swift, Barn & Red Rumped Swallow and Crag Martin were also recorded.  At the second Mirador better luck was with us, firstly 2 Booted Eagles, a distant Bonelli’s and a close by Short Toed Eagle that conveniently settled on a nearby radio mast.  Taking the road towards Alpandeire, Peter took the trouble to locate a Dartford Warbler for a member who was short of this species.  At the same time we collected many Woodchat Shrikes, an Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Eared Wheatear, Crested and Thekla Lark, Bee Eaters, Cirl Bunting and Blue Tit.  Driving on to the last Mirador in the hope of Spectacled Warbler both Collared & Turtle Dove, Serin, Chaffinch and Short Toed Lark were seen.  At the viewpoint Peter managed to locate the Warbler but it was not taking kindly to be observed so dived for cover in the scrub not to be seen again!

With five in our car to return to the starting point to retrieve vehicles we picked up White Stork, Jay and Raven whilst travelling.

All in all,  a nice mornings birding with a list of 47 and looking forward to the EMG and BBQ back at Peter’s ‘ranch’.

Derek & Barbara Etherton

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