This tour encompasses several white villages in the mountains just south of Ronda and also includes the Reserva Natural at Los Quejigales. Heading north from the coast towards Ronda we pass Gaucin, Algatocin and Atajate before turning off the main road to start our tour. This beautiful mountainous drive will provide many sightings from the car and enough species to whet our appetites.
Driving along this quiet country road will allow us to pull over on many occasions to observe species such as Thekla Lark, Black and Black-eared Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrushes, Scrub Warblers, Finches and Raptors.
As we pass through several villages so the landscape changes from steep rocky gorges, to valleys of almond and olive groves, then fir forest, cork oak, holm oak and pastures. There are large areas of scrub supporting oleanders and brooms, plantations of Sweet Chestnut, sheer cliff faces and scree-littered hillside with sparse vegetation. Many species of birds are supported here, anywhere along the route we may find: Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, Hawfinch, Crag Martin, Corn, Cirl and Rock Buntings. Raptor sightings will be pretty good too with Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Bonelli’s Eagle, Peregrine, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Vultures, Kites and Kestrels. The woodlands should give us Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Jays, Woodpeckers, Tits and Finches.
In the afternoon we move onto Los Quejigales, a natural reserve within the Sierra de las Nieves. A dirt track some 10km long dissects the reserve and culminates at a campsite with open glades within stands of pine. The terrain changes from open scrub, to dense shrubs and finally as the trail climbs into the sierras we find pine forest. There are many tracks and trails for us to explore and a wide variety of species to find.
Natural rocky basins holding seasonal streams attract Wheatears (3 species may be found: Northern, Black-eared and Black), Subalpine, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers. The campsite area is excellent for Red-necked Nightjar during the summer and for many Warblers during spring. Bonelli’s, Willow, Garden and Sardinian Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, Crested Tit, Black Redstart, Serin, Cirl Bunting and Woodlarkare all found within this area at the right time of the year. We will spend a few hours here stretching into the early evening and taking various tracks into the surrounding countryside before setting off on our return journey.