Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Birds and wildlife of Serranía de Ronda

Winter is always a hard time for wildlife, even in the more temperate climes of the Serranía de Ronda. January has been a real mixed bag in terms of the weather, rain (although insufficient for now), snow, high winds and blue sunny days, although our nighttimes have been plagued by more than our fair share of frosts even at night temperatures above freezing! Whatever the weather, whatever the time of year, getting up and into my mountains is just so rewarding and my local scenery always amazing.

Tim Appleton birding the Serrania de Ronda
My month has been hectic, sorting out tours, finishing outstanding trip reports, preparing for another journey to Costa Rica, getting fellow travellers up to speed and informed on all the details of the tour they need in order to prepare. Yet, the call of my mountains beckoned on several occasions and not least taking a very old friend with me to share and indulge in the amazing wildlife of the Serranía de Ronda. It was great to see Tim Appleton and spend time together searching for and finding a large list of target birds, although we did dip on Alpine Accentor!

Dartford Warbler putting on a fine show whilst impressing his mate
High points for January were finding one of my resident pairs of Bonelli’s Eagle back on territory (they were displaced by Griffon Vulture last year) and displaying, nest building and generally giving me some real thrills and memorable moments. Another was setting out with Brenda, my wife, to find early signs of Giant Orchid; we were successful and enjoyed many other flowering plants on the day. Finding very showy Dartford Warbler and Rock Bunting also made my journeys rewarding, funny how Rock Bunting are so obvious right now, they become a fairly difficult bird later in the year.

Stunning views from our 'new' photography hide near Ronda
It was also great to see our ‘new’ photography hide welcome it’s first client. The hide has been a long time in the making, complete with interior toilet and wash basin. Set in an ancient oak forest and standing within a clearing it provides amazing scenery from the hide windows and of course has a water feature for all the resident and visiting birds. I can’t wait until the Spring and see some of the summer visitors coming to feed and drink in front of this luxury facility, Sub-alpine, Bonelli’s and Orphean Warbler are just some we expect on a regular basis, with Nightingale and Iberian Chiffchaff a couple of others I particularly want to photograph. The woodland holds a few pairs of Booted Eagle and a nesting site close-by for Short-toed Eagle, so expectations are running high!

Bonelli's Eagle male fly by, not a brilliant photo, but a brilliant bird!
Hopefully my upcoming tour to Costa Rica will be as productive as my last visit, I have led 10 tours there previously, but even as an exotic destination as this will not dampen my yearning to return to my mountains and experience its wonderful wildlife.

Rock Bunting has been another showy bird during January.

Some snaps from January and hope you will enjoy them.

Broad-leafed Iris an abundant winter bloom
White Wagtail are a very common winter visitor, but scarce in summer.
Paperwhite Narcissus is a very common winter bloom 
Our scenery here can be so beautiful
Little Egret adds a touch of elegance to the shores of our lakes
Chiffchaff provides winter entertainment in abundance!
Red Deer and also Ibex can be more obvious in winter
Libar track can be such a rewarding route in winter
Griffon Vulture flies over the 'new' photography hide near Ronda

To see other destinations I visit, please see our main website. Thank you


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