The Sierra de Grazalema is a ‘Parque Natural’ in the North Eastern part of Cadiz Province encompassing 51,695 hectares. It is a complex range of Sierras up to 1654 mtrs, partly tree covered but with bare rock in their higher regions with wide dry plains between them. The scenery is spectacular, and on a clear, hot day the visibility is unending. It was to this stunning Park we came for our monthly Field Meeting and 19 members met at Venta La Vega just a few kms north of Ronda. After a coffee we headed north into the park and 5kms short of the white village of Grazalema perched on the mountain we turned down a track for about 2kms before reaching our birding site.
It was in a wide dry scrub plain with cork oaks dotting the landscape with a stream running through the length of the plain. By now the temperature had reached over 30dgs but the oaks provided wonderful shade. Wherever you looked or walked the sights and sounds of hundreds of Bee Eaters were everywhere. What made the site so special was the sandy bank of the stream. Here were dozens of holes, still occupied by the Bee Eaters and they were bringing food back to their young, and some spectacular photos were taken. Another spectacular bird was the Hoopoe and they were also in great numbers, but Woodlark, Bonelli’s Warbler and Corn and Cirl Bunting were more difficult to spot, as they flitted between the low bushes.
Against the clear blue sky Griffon and Egyptian Vultures drifted overhead as did Bonelli’s and Booted Eagles. Nearer the cliffs dozens of Alpine and Pallid Swifts filled the air, together with Swallows and House Martins. We were fortunate to see a Sparrowhawk flit between the oaks, before we had to leave as most people were heading back to the Venta to attend the Society’s EGM.
This location is also a wonderful base for extensive walks through the cork oak woods and along the stream and is highly recommended for seeing many different species of birds.
We hope you will be able to join our August Field Meeting. Our next meeting will see us visit our conservation project involving Barn Owl, it promises to be a wonderful day. See the details here.
Article: John Brooks – ABS Member (Chairman)
Photos: Peter Jones and Frank Hair – ABS Members