Saturday, September 24, 2016

Birding Spain ~ Cantero los Arenales

After my long day down in Tarifa I decided on a lay in Saturday morning, rising at around 9am. After breakfast I decided to stay local and went for a walk in the hills above Mijas.

The stunning view across the Hoya de Malaga!
The area in question starts at a disused quarry Cantera los Arenales and from here you make a steep climb up through the scrub and pine woods. There are lots of tracks to explore with the climb eventually reaching some 3000ft, producing some absolutely stunning views across the Hoya de Malaga. In fact you can actually see aircraft some way below you on approach into Malaga, quite surreal!

Crested Tit ~ A great place to find these guys!
I've recorded Black Wheatear and Rock Bunting here in previous visits so you never know quite what to expect. In fact my first species of note was a Booted Eagle, drifting over south, then the ever present Sardinian Warbler. With so much pine around the inevitable species can be found and eight Crossbill were behaving noisily in the canopy as I made my way up. It wasn't long before a group of four Crested Tit appeared, I did eventually get a half decent photo but using a bridge camera to nail one of these is no mean feat!

Further up the track another group noisily passing through the pine included Coal Tit, Firecrest and Long-tailed Tits. I'd heard at least two Pied Flycatchers calling and eventually found one under the low canopy, four in total during my visit.

Pied Flycatcher ~ At least four today!
The top, as shown in the photo is an incredible place for a visible migration watch and so I found a shaded area and just took in the view. Barn Swallows and House Martins were passing frequently and then little pockets of other species: Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow and the odd Crag Martin. A series of unmistakable calls then put me onto several Bee-eaters, but they didn't hang around long. I spent the best part of an hour here adding Sparrowhawk, another Booted Eagle and Common Kestrel before heading back down. Even more Crested Tit, Crossbill and Firecrest, then a first for me at this location, a Tree Pipit! Unfortunately no Black Wheatear or Rock Bunting today, but a cracking visit nevertheless.