For all of yo who have missed your biding treat for over two months, I have attached a report that I received from my friend Derek Etherton of his day out with wife, Barbara and close friends Jerry and Barbara Layock from Fuengirola. Derek illustrates the pleasure that we get from our birding, the moreso when we can share the experience with friends. Its not just the birds that you actually see, it's more the mutual sharing of the experience itself. There were no pictures from Derek so apologies for including a few of my own to illustrate my friends' experience.
Yesterday was an early start for us for a trip to the Serrania de Ronda and a favourite birding area - Quejigales. We met up with Barbara & Jerry for a much needed coffee before starting the action of driving up the mountain track. So good to have most of the ventas open again where, as in the most of Spain, a decent, I would say the best, cup of coffee costs but a single Euro. Why people persist in patronising the largely owned American coffee franchisees with their awful product at amazingly high prices continues to bewilder me.
Refreshed, we first drove into the lower car park arriving at the same time as a large, mixed nationality, group of walkers. Trust me, it's not just the Spanish who talk loudly, the Germans do too! We picked a couple of birds down here, Choughs, Little Owl, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Chaffinch (so many Chaffinches about that it's no wonder I call them the ABC bird - Another Bloody Chaffinch), Blue Tits, many Mistle Thrushes and Great Tit. We moved on and decided to stay on the bottom track and look in the known area for Dartford Warbler and other small delights. Sadly not to be, the wind was so strong in this valley that all but the hardy Stonechat, feeding young, a cruising Booted Eagle and hunting Common Kestrel showed themselves - ah, forgot the House Sparrows around the finca.
So we decided to climb the trail, by car of course, we're not that silly, but it wasn't until we were near the top that the bird action really started. Rock Buntings began to appear, several Jays, Corn Buntings still calling and then at a large patch of May trees - warblers. Firstly a Melodious Warbler in full song, and whilst respecting the report on the Wrens song on this weeks "Springwatch," the Wren has nothing on the Melodious's song. Wouldn't I just like to know all it says! Then a Subalpine Warbler appeared some 25 mtrs away and started to sing, but for some reason, I'd like to know why, the Melodious took offence and chased it right into a small, thorny bush just some 4 mtrs away from us. Great views of both birds and they were so caught up in their disagreement they ignored us. Driving on to the top car park and picnic area we noted many Blackbirds, heard Red-legged Partridge, saw and heard Wood Pigeon, Robin and Blackcap.
One of the main reasons for the trip was to find the Common Redstarts that are known to favour the nest boxes in the pine tree area at the picnic site. We were not to be disappointed, we found 2 pairs busy feeding their young still obviously in the boxes. Superb views of both males and females who we noticed seemed to always halt on a close by branch before entering or leaving the box. Just over our heads were Crested Tits feeding well fledged young and Greenfinch clinging on to the pine bark to feed theirs. We remarked on the fact that the young Greenfinches were so well camouflaged when stationery on the trunks. Common Crossbills came into feed directly above us as did a Coal Tit and its young.
After eating we decided to walk up the track and were soon rewarded with Black Redstart and a female Cirl Bunting gathering seeds on the edge of the track only 4/5 mtrs away from us. More Rock Buntings were bathing in the still running stream, then drying out on a nearby bush. A Wood Lark was in full song atop of a close by pine tree, both when walking up and then back down an hour later. Barbara E said she wanted Nuthatch for the year list and blow me one obliged within two minutes of her saying so. Not only obliged by showing but by sitting out in the open and preening for a full five minutes. Not content with this Barbara L said she wanted a woodpecker and I kid you not within a minute a Great Spotted Woodpecker obliged barely 20 mtrs away, low down and very visible. A Short-toed Treecreeper (long name for such a small bird) was active close to us and in the further distance Rock Doves (I never ever count ferals!) were flying.
I'm no botanist but even I was amazed and the spectacular amount and colour of the wild flower variety on display, an absolute riot of colour.
Returning to the car we added Jackdaw, Collared Dove and Spotless Starlings to the list on the downward journey. All in all, target bird(s) achieved and a thoroughly enjoyable day in great company.
Many thanks Derek for sharing your experience with us all.
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