Monday, May 08, 2023

πŸ“– πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ ~ The Sierra de las Nieves 04/05/2023

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ Thursday 4th May2023 πŸŒ€ 26C ~ Wind E @ 4MPH I'm always delighted to join Andy Paterson, Derek, and Barbara Etherton for a day out and today's excursion was up in The Sierra de las Nieves National Park, an area my companions know very well having lived and birded in Andalucia for many years.

The Sierra de las Nieves National Park is located in the hills behind Marbella and to the east of the Ronda-Marbella road as it winds up the mountain along hairpin bends. The park centres on Mount Torrecilla (1909m) and covers an area of 30km by 20km or 18,530 hectares. The Sierra de las Nieves, formerly a natural park, was declared a National Park in January 2021 and formalised in May 2021. 
For information: Hostal Restaurante El Navasillo is a great place to stop for breakfast before entering the park (the restaurant is closed on Wednesdays)

It was a fantastic day out with many images to share, best described to begin as a pictorial. 

Our first hour was spent at a known water font and we just sat at a respectable distance in the shade watching and waiting ~  Six Western Subalpine Warblers noted 4 males & 2 females. Normally skulking in the scrub what a fantastic sight to see these birds out in the open.

Firecrest ~ Another bird often seen up in the pine canopy is quite happy to be out in the open bathing and drinking.

Crested Tit ~ What a stunning little bird & requires no discription!

A female Western Subalpine Warbler takes the opportunity to come in for a bath.

A female Blackcap is a more familiar sight to a UK birder.

During my recent stay in Spain, the Western Bonelli's Warbler has been by far the most common warbler. Often elusive and only heard it's a great opportunity to study this species in detail.

A Cirl Bunting one of three today comes down from the trees for a bath.

This Pied Flycatcher did try his luck at the font but was chased off pretty quickly by a Firecrest of all things. He only stayed for a short time before heading off.

There are always surprises when out birding and this Red-legged Partridge was totally unexpected!


Just prior to moving on to our next destination at Los Quejigales a Woodlark, which we'd heard singing for most of our stay at the water font finally decided to make an appearance.

Blue Tit ~ I've never seen one with such an amazingly vivid colour. (not enhanced!)

A few other visitors to the font included Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tit and the bluest Blue Tit I think I've ever seen!

Cirl Bunting en route to the Los Quejigales parking area.

From here it was the usual stop/start affair checking out anything that moved on route to the Los Quejigales parking area, noting Short-toed TreecreeperRock Bunting and another Cirl bunting.  At one point we paused to talk to Alvaro from Wild Andalusia a local guide who Derek knows quite well.  He was actually photographing a Sierra Navarda Lizard but I think we may have spooked it as it shot off up into the rocks before we had time to see it in any great detail, it looked quite large! Apparently, this particular species is not known to the area and so could be a first for the reserve for Alvaro.

Common Redstart at Los Quejigales

At Los Quejigales we spent time looking for Common Redstarts, which nest here. Unfortunately, it was a challenge made all the more difficult by a group of workmen strimming the area under the nest boxes! Incredible really considering the location and time of year! We did eventually find 3 birds, including a smart-looking male but I have to say 'who makes these decisions'. I'm sure Andy will be making enquiries.

Our final drive took the low road back down to civilization stopping on two occasions for what turned out to be even more outstanding birding.

A pair of Black Wheatear feeding young along the lower road so after a quick photo we moved on pretty rapidly! 

This is just a small group (camera lens permitting) of Honey Buzzards that passed over mid-afternoon during a period of intense visible migration. Groups of 70~8~23 totalled 101 Honey Buzzards. In addition (15) Griffon Vultures, (2) displaying SparrowhawkBooted EaglePeregrine Falcon and a Short-toed Eagle were also noted.

Butterflies recorded today included this Pea Blue

Adonis Blue

Marsh Fritillary

Also of note during our drive down were: Iberian Grey Shrike, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Nuthatch, Black Redstart, Raven, Woodlark, Firecrest, Stonechat and Grey Wagtail. What an outstanding day birding, great company great fun and great birding!!