PALMONES SALT MARSH – SAN ENRIQUE WOODS – ENCINAS BORRACHAS TRACK – SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES NATURAL PARK.
Weather: a cold northerly wind dominated the weather today, it was mainly sunny with some cloud in the middle of the day. 25C felt like 10C at times!
We drove along the coast road towards Malaga stopping briefly at Palmones salt marsh where we watched two Ospreys, three Sandwich Terns and a dozen or so waders. The waders were all plovers! Grey, Kentish and Little Ringed, not a lot was happening so we moved on quickly.
At San Enrique woods we fared much better, both White and Grey Wagtails fed on the watered-football pitch along the approach track, together with Cattle Egret and Blackbird. Near the sewer works was notched a few flycatchers, about 10 Pied and half a dozen Spotted ‘hunted’ from fence wires, a few Common Redstarts joined them.
A field grazed by a flock of sheep held more Cattle Egrets and a dozen or so Yellow Wagtails, both Common and Spotless Starlings sat on the power wires above them with a bunch of Collared Doves.
A few raptors flew over, we saw another Osprey, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Common Buzzard and a Common Kestrel. Migrant Wood Pigeons dashed about in small flocks as did both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows. Monarch butterflies battled with the wind to find flowering Tropical Milkweed, we left them to it and drove on towards Gaucin.
A couple of stops were made to look at first Little Owls, then warblers appeared in a hedge, Willow Warbler and Sardinian Warbler were noted. After a coffee stop in Gaucin we drove towards Ronda pulling over at the Encinas Borrachas track.
on the Encinas Borrachas track
Boy was it windy and quite cold! Intermittent gusts of cold wind were punctuated by nice warm, calm, sunny spells. We found birding tough going. Most of our sightings were of distant birds, Blue Rock Thrush, Southern Grey Shrike, Black Wheatear and Thekla Lark. We also saw Red Deer and Spanish Ibex, Sage Skipper and Rock Grayling Butterflies.
nice cloud formation ahead of a 'front' which arrived an hour later - but it never rained!
A few Griffon Vultures flew over us as we neared the heathland section of the track and it was there that we found Spectacled Warblers that sometimes showed well and a Dartford Warbler that hardly showed at all. On the return walk we added 3 Whinchats to the list and more Golfinches appeared.
We drove to the Ronda-San Pedro road and had lunch (outside!) at a venta near the entrance to Sierra de las Nieves natural park. Lunch was an extended affair as the service was very slow. At 3pm we entered the park! The cloud cover cleared, the wind dropped a little but birding was still hard.
We had sightings of more Common Redstarts, a Jay and a beautiful Firecrest in the trees at the picnic site near the entrance. Further into the park we had much views of Black Wheatear whilst Crag Martins were hawking insects in a rocky valley. A brief view of a Black Redstart and a distant Spotted Flycatcher made up the rest of a poor bird-list.
We dropped into Ronda to visit the famous gorge (no Red-billed Chough) and left around 4:45pm.
Our last walk of the day in Sierra de las Nieves park
It was a long trip back to Tarifa which took nearly 2hrs! Dinner was taken on the terrace everyone was in a joyous mood and all enjoyed a lovely evening but the main dish of Squid wasn’t to everyone’s taste!