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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

🇪🇸 SPAIN 2018 ~ Cantera los Arenales

🇪🇸☀️24C Tuesday 24th April 2018 ~ Just a 10-minute drive from the villa above Mijas, I absolutely love this place!




Parking at the old quarry car park you make a steep climb and can reach up to 3,000ft. There are lots of tracks to explore producing some absolutely stunning views across the Hoya de Malaga. Among the vegetation, repopulated pines predominate, although these are mixed with Holm oaks and other typically Mediterranean shrubs in the areas closer to the summit.

Black Wheatear ~ Two in the car park today
Before I go anywhere I make sure to check out the rocky crags which surround the car park for Rock Bunting and Black Wheatear, which nest here. I had two of each on this visit, plus a few Serin singing from the shrubbery and a Raven over. Listening out for Dartford Warbler I managed the briefest view of a single bird and then the unmistakable call of Bee-eater, with six passing through.

Angry Firecrest having a territorial row with another bird
The only downfall as you make your way up the track is the dog s**t. This is a popular walk at weekends and I avoid it at all costs when over here. However, weekdays are quiet, today I only met one hiker and a dozen or so mountain bikers. About halfway up you begin to encounter the pine woods, there is a good population of Chaffinch here and the usual woodland birds, plus Short-toed Treecreeper, which were quite vocal today. Crested Tits are another regular here and Firecrests are abundant.

Crossbill ~ Four today at this small watering hole
Find yourself a small puddle and settle down for a while and with a little patience the Crossbills will arrive, four birds paid the above water source a visit while I waited!

Spanish Festoon ~ One of my favourite butterflies
It's not just the birding that brings me up here, with such a diverse habitat there's plenty more on offer. Butterflies were in abundance today, with several Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Wall Brown, Green-striped White, Morrocan Orange-tip, Clouded Yellow, Cleopatra, and one of my favourites, Spanish Festoon.

This Ocellated lizard was surprised by my presence
Lizards are also a feature and any movement in the undergrowth is worth stopping to investigate! The above Ocellated Lizard was surprised to see me.

Reaching the top of my walk I spent some time just enjoying the passage of birds, these included my first Red-rumped Swallows of this visit, Honey Buzzard, Alpine Swift, Common Swift and Barn Swallows. A pair of Booted Eagles nest up here and I managed a brief view of the display flight before they disappeared, although they were calling for most of my stay!

Crossbill

Ocellated lizard