Sunday, 24 August 2014

Montes de Malaga

Saturday 23 August

Female Chaffinch  Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs

Strange how suddenly it was dark very much later this morning when I awoke at 6.50 and decided I might as well get up and get ready for our morning in the Montes de Malaga with the Andalucia Bird Society on its month field visit.  Indeed, I had to go into the kitchen to check the clock as I presumed, being so dark, it was probably nearer 4.50 and the clock had been incorrectly re-set.  No, the correct time but just, so very suddenly, darker this morning for whatever reason.  At least it meant that Jenny and I were away on time for the drive over to Colmenar and then the old Malaga road (A7000) up into the Montes de Malaga.  Thekla Larks and White Wagtails as we passed through Los Romanes and then both Buzzard and Kestrel as we drove through the higher range at approaching 900 metres to take the turn-off into the park and the meeting point a the Hotel Humaina.  Barn Swallows and House Martins recorded on the main road along with House Sparrows and the first of the many Chaffinches.

Given the continuing very hot and dry weather, I suppose if you are going to go birding in id-August then the wooded shade on the sloes of the mountain were perhaps the best option.  In the event, jenny and I joined twenty-two other members including our guide for the morning, Luiz Alberto Rodrigues, a fellow member and professional guide living in Malaga.  Always good to have an experienced and enthusiastic local with you to show you the best routes even if you have been to the general area on previous occasions.

Scruffy Wild Boar Sus Scrofa
Whilst waiting for late arrivals I managed to grab a coffee and toaster and no sooner had returned with same to the patio area when I was being requested (I use this word with some reservation!) to throw my breakfast over the edge to where a small family party of Wild Boar Sus Scrofa were passing through the bushes.  I did throw a very small piece over which was soon accompanied by sugar lumps (had to react very quickly to make sure that i got a couple into my cup before the bowl was emptied).  And there below us was the extended family, ranging from adults to very young, probably a "baker's dozen" in total.  I use this phrase with feeling as, no doubt in one form or another, these animals are eventually going to end up inside a bread roll!!!!

So on with our morning's birding as Red-rumped Swallows and Chaffinches moved above us quickly followed by a passing Short-toed Eagle.  Some hardly soles had even arrived in time to join the six who stayed overnight at the hotel for an early morning (7am and just getting light) walk around the area where, in addition to the birds seen by the rest of us, they also managed to record Nightingale, Dartford Warbler, Blue Tit and a passing flock of about a dozen Black Kites.  A relatively short drive further into the park took us to the start of our first walk.

Male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra

Lovely and cool in the shade of the trees but still mot comfortable in just a short-sleeve shirt as we had to listen carefully for bird song and seek out any movement in the tall trees and gaps above to see the sky.  Crossbills were up first and the a slow and steady identification of woodland birds including Coal and Crested Tit along with Firecrest and Short--toed Treecreeper.  A couple of Nuthatches were seen whilst above there was obviously a passage of swifts with first a single Pallid Swift then plenty of Common Swifts with the occasional former.  A Blackbird crossed the track behind my group and the a Booted Eagle drifted overhead above the skyline.  Eventually, we found a couple of Great Tits and then two small families of Long-tailed Tits moving through the trees at the side of the track.  Surprisingly, I only saw a couple of Goldfinches during the walk.  We had an occasional glimpse of the odd Barn Swallow and also added a Robin as we made our way back to the cars.

The final walk was based at the small museum where I normally park on visit the Montes de Malaga.  W were greeted in the car park by the sight of a silhouetted Spotted Flycatcher and then set off down the steps to take the path through the picnic area behind the building.  However, we all stopped to see the trio of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in a dead tree to the front of us before continuing on.  The day was now really heating up and with less and less cover we decided it would be better to return to the cars by the same track rather take the exposed road.  A Collared Dove was added tot he list but very little else as far as I am aware.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Pico Picapinos Dendrocopus major

Not a large number of birds but given the very hot conditions it had been a very pleasant stroll through the woods in great company.  In addition to the Wild Boars, we also had a couple of sightings of the local Red Squirrels Sciuruss vulgaris (almost black in colour out here in southern Spain) and a rather pale Common Swallowtail Papilio machaon butterfly posed in front of us.

Birds seen:
Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House martin, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Robin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Dartford Warbler, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Crested tot, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Crossbill.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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