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201707Spectacled WarblerThe EGM of the Andalucia Bird Society takes place every July and for the past 3 years it has been held at Finca Algaba on the outskirts of Ronda.  A dozen members arrived for a mornings birding before the ‘boring bit’.  
My morning had begun well, sitting on the terrace at 07:10hrs eating melon for breakfast with a very low circling Sparrowhawk for company – not a bad start to the day.  The journey from the coast was shrouded in low cloud and a little drizzle, would this be a break in the hot spell?  Well, no, by the time we crossed the sierras at Ardales the temperature rose and clear blue skies abounded.
A convoy of cars left Algaba to head out to the Serrania de Ronda on the Juzcar road.  Here we stopped to search the scrub soon finding very close by, Spectacled Warblers – at least 3 of them.  201707Dartford WarblerBoth adult and juvenile Woodchat Shrikes abounded perched on their look outs.  Stonechats, distinctly drab at the moment, were on gorse and mountain rose tops and a couple of sightings of Dartford Warbler were made.
In the distance atop a wire fence an Iberian Grey Shrike and several Rock Sparrows could be seen.  Many Pallid, accompanied by a few Common and Alpine Swifts flew through feeding on the updrafts - one moment there - the next gone.  A couple of Wood Pigeons flew in the distance and many Goldfinches flitted around.  The first of a few Black-eared Wheatears posed on the wire fence and a couple of Blue Tits were spotted in the Holm Oaks.  A Red-legged Partridge was first heard and then located taking a stance on a low rock.
201707Southern Grey ShrikeMoving on in the Juzcar direction we stopped at a safe pull in where the cars could be off the road, but not before the first Short-toed Eagle was spotted sitting aloft on the mountain top.  It seemed to spy us and then lazily launch itself to float away, but we were to see more a little later.  The first Booted Eagles, at least 2, were flying quite close to the view point and soon the first of the Griffon Vultures floated into view.  Plenty of Crag Martins hugged the cliff face making the most of the feeding opportunities offered by the up drafts.  A very distant Peregrine Falcon was located sitting high on top of a distant rock and a ‘scope was used to enable all to view.  Black Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrushes and later on, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush were located in the higher regions.  The Rufous-tailed was having a hard time being bullied by a couple of Black Wheatears, happens in walks of life so it seems!
201707Black WheatearStarting back towards Algaba and the EGM, we made one more stop and were immediately rewarded with an exceptionally low pair of Short-toed Eagles directly above us – wonderful. Melodious Warblers were seen and very much heard in the Almond trees as were their Sardinian cousins.  Eventually Great Tit and Greenfinches were observed in the same area just as we were about to depart.
If I add the usual House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings seen in many places it meant we totalled some 30+ species in the time we were out.  Easy birding and without any exertions – sometimes it’s nice to take this approach.
 
Derek Etherton

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