I started on Tuesday with Peter Jones who has an unrivalled knowledge of the birds of the Ronda area. He has also studied the Black Wheatear population so there is probably nobody better to show you where they are. We spent most of the day in the Llanos de Liber valley which is a fantastic area with a wide variety of habitats.
|Llanos de Liber - the sky really was that blue!|
We soon found singing male Black Wheatears but they seem to choose the tops of the valley sides to sing from making it difficult to get close. Black Wheatears only occur in Iberia, Morocco and Libya so have quite a restricted range they are also resident unlike our Northern Wheatear which we also saw along with migrant Black-eared Wheatears which are just returning.
A Thekla Lark put on a good show, Thekla's are resident in the valley but Crested Larks are common in the open cultivated areas and around the towns so we were able to make a good comparison. The shorter less curved bill of Thekla Lark is probably the most reliable field characteristic.
Red-billed Chough is very common in the valley but again stick to the higher cliff faces.
Peter then took me on a tour of some of the other good birding spots around Ronda. I managed a photo of the Iberian race of Green Woodpecker (sharpei) which lacks the black around the eye of UK birds.
|Green Woodpecker Picus viridis sharpei|
|The Agaba hide at first light with Pieter Verheij putting out the food|
|Subalpine Warbler - Agaba Hide|
I considered going back over to the Cadiz area to visit sites like La Janda but have decided to move up the Mediterranean coast tomorrow.
|Route so far, looking a little messy in southern Spain|