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Monday, April 06, 2015

Serranía de Ronda - Spain Day 4

Some indifferent weather today with low cloud, sunny periods and rain showers as we headed off into the Serranía de Ronda. This is excellent birding country with well vegetated valleys of cork-oak, pines, Holm oak and other broad-leaved tree varieties. The highest parts of the route into Ronda itself are mountainous with only a sparse covering of broom , cistus and other scrub plants.

Low cloud today bringing the Griffon Vultures low down!
Despite the low cloud there was a constant passage of vultures overhead, entirely Griffon Vulture but with the exception of a lone Egyptian Vulture over Ronda itself. Stopping off at predetermined sites on route which included Parauta, Cartajima and Juzcar a decent selection of species were noted despite it being still a little early in the year.

The sun shone just in time for this Rock Bunting!
At Parauta Stonechat, Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Rock DoveSardinian Warbler, and Great Spotted Woodpecker and at Juzcar the Smurf Village, yes every house blue and the set of the recent Smurf movies Cirl Bunting, Crossbill, Jay, Subalpine Warbler and a passage of around a dozen Bee-eater!

Alpine Swift - several over the town
The ancient town of Ronda itself stands 744 meters above sea-level and despite being an extremely busy provincial town offers some stunning birding. Once in Ronda head for the El Puente Nuevo (the new bridge - actually 18th century)  which spans the Tajo gorge, a hundred meter deep chasm. Here the views are exceptional and Crag Martin, Alpine Swift, Barn Swallow, Pallid Swift and Common Swift were all noted. There have been the odd White-rumped Swift reported over the years but sadly not during our stay. Perhaps a little early as these birds are renowned for displacing House Martins from their nests and taking over!

Red-billed Chough - As close as I could get without climbing the cliffs!
Keep an eye above too for the many more Griffon Vulture and Raven, plus there's a large population of Red-billed Chough, although the blighters would never come too close. During our stay a lone White Stork drifted over too along with a single Booted Eagle and despite being a great place to see Bonelli's Eagle we were unfortunate today. 

Serin - Very common in Ronda!
Finally the Puente Viejo (The old bridge - actually 17th century) and here you can walk down to the river and this proved very successful with Crag Martins skimming the water, a few Spotless Starling having a drink and Serin everywhere. Blue Rock Thrush and both Grey Wagtail and White Wagtail were also recorded along the river.