Friday, November 8, 2013

Birds of Autumn - Serranía de Ronda

Unbelievably warm weather, butterflies and dragonflies abound, whilst winter clothes remain on the shelf. You could almost mistake the time of year as being the warmer times of spring rather than autumn. Only the mass arrival of wintering birds give the season away and even they have to be pleasantly surprised by blue skies and warmth. My mountains, my heaven and realm has seen the arrival of the most common winter visitors such as Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Ring Ouzel, as well as the more localised Alpine Accentor. A surprise has been a solitary Yellow-browed Warbler up the Libar track, but then again there has been a large influx of these tiny warblers into Europe this autumn, still it got an old man very excited!

Mixed finch flocks abound in cultivated areas
Up on the high hills of Old Ronda there are super large flocks of mixed finches, spectacular sights as the flock are constantly disturbed by wandering cow herds, passing cars or the villain of any peaceful finch flock, the Sparrowhawk! It is always worth scanning these flocks for the unusual or scarcer finch and spending time revealed Brambling among the many Chaffinches, whilst the field margins with their high fennel plants held a small flock of Siskin. Just lazing around this wonderfully scenic area can take your breath away, as autumn shadows deepen the harsh edges to rock and crag, bringing a softness to the landscape which is almost velvet like and in total contrast to summer months when bright light and haze gives an almost one dimensional appearance to both hill and mountain.

Ring Ouzel are very common autumn migrants and winter visitors
Higher in the limestone mountains, where haws and hips provide food in abundance, Ring Ouzel has appeared in very large numbers, slightly later than normal. These handsome thrushes, so scarce and hard to find in North Europe, regularly use my high mountain areas to winter, along with Redwing and the much rarer Fieldfare. My maximum count for this thrush, during 2009, was 200+, whilst this week I have managed counts in excess of 100! Some of these birds will continue to journey south and eventually spend their winter in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, but a good many will winter here in times when there are plenty of haws and hips.

Meadow Pipit an abundant winter visitor
Of course we are only in the beginnings of November, so plenty of time for more seasonal weather, cooler and wet, to make an appearance, for now I am taking every available opportunity to get out of the house, not only for my guiding work, but also on my free days! And my efforts have been rewarded this week; I have not seen ‘my’ Bonelli’s Eagle behind Montejaque for many weeks so it was cause of great celebration to see an adult among many Griffon Vulture high above it’s nesting site. I was really so worried that something terrible had happened to ‘my’ eagles. Phew! What a relief. Black Vulture has also been regular this week up the Libar valley, such a different wing shape to their smaller cousins the Griffon Vulture.

Ibex - Large males guard their harem, warding off younger males!
As is becoming usual for my blogs I post several more photographs and hope you enjoy the pictorial of autumn here in my mountains? Thanks for taking the time to visit and read my blog.

An ancient Gall Oak
Mid-elevation Llanos de Libar
Black Wheatear are among the most attractive resident birds
Sardinian Warbler is our most common and widespread warbler

Why not join Peter on one his Day Tours? See Links below.

See links below for some great ways to spend a day!

Serranía de Ronda – My Mountains – for further information read HERE

Osuna – Steppe Country – for further information read HERE

Campillos - Mountains to Lagoons - for further information read HERE

Wildlife Guides you can trust - Leading you closer to nature.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

The Ring Ouzel, and Sardinian Warbler images are really spectacular with the Autumn berries pictured, Always nice making a visit to your blog.

Peter Jones said...

Thanks Mary and always nice folk leave their impressions of the blog. Peter