Tuesday 22 September
Today was the day when I set out to discover where exactly I might find the Mirador de las Aguilas raptor watching point in the Sierra Alpujata mountains of Mijas. Along the A7 motorway to west of Fuengirola and hen turn inland and take a very narrow, twisting road upwards o the site. Lovely day with hardly a breeze and just the occasional thin scatter of cloud. Upon arrival I found two of the stalwarts of the site, Blas Lopez and Paco Rios, already hard at work recording the species passing through. Lovely views all round but all the birds are very high and distant as they climb over, presumably, the last high peak before continuing on down to the coast of the Strait of Gibraltar before then setting out on the annual crossing to Africa.
|Sierra Alpujata seen from the Miradpr de las Aguilas|
Judging by the birds I saw and recorded, as conformed by Blas, I suspect for every two birds I saw they saw twenty-two or more! Great to have Blas there with his raptor knowledge which just goes to show that to make a success of this site you need not only to have good optics, I took my small travel scope as I had no idea how far I would have to walk from the car to the actual viewing point on my injured leg, but also good eye-sight and sadly mine is nowhere near its best nor even that of twenty years ago. Not to worry though, I did see some lovely, albeit distant, birds.
First up was a Short-toed Eagle quickly followed by a quartet of Alpine Swifts. A mixed flock of seventeen individuals kettled above the highest peak and included 12 Honey Buzzards plus Black Kites and Booted Eagles (15 seen). The first point of real excitement was Blas pointing out the lone Golden Eagle drifting away to the left and soon after a juvenile Spanish (Iberian) Imperial Eagle moving westwards.
|Golden Eagle Aguila Real Aquilla chrysaetos|
Other birds seen included a single Black Stork plus 5 Sparrowhawks (Blas pointed out that they had seen 24 in the first hour), a single Marsh Harrier and a Common Swift.
Not many birds you might think but more a case of quality rather than quantity. The drive up from the coast had already revealed both Collared Dove and Cattle Egret and on my return journey I made the very briefest of stops when I reached the coast at Fuengirola and added a quartet of Turnstone plus three Audouin's and a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
|Blas still at work searching for raptors|
Cattle Egret, Black Stork, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Turnstone, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift.