100+ Birds Costa del Sol Birding Challenge (Malaga, Andalucia, Southern Spain)

The Malaga Team meets again for a 100+ challenge in a very hot and difficult July...

Have a look at the trip report, pictures and the complete list of birds below!

Barbara, Derek, Mick and I were very concerned about achieving our 100 species target in July, possibly the most difficult month for birding after the breEding season, the heat at the countryside and before the bulk of migration starts in the second half of August. Despite all these factors we keep committed to show how rewarding Malaga province is for birders at any time of the year.

We decided to improve our chances with an early visit to Zapata before our traditional start at Montes de Malaga. Our main goal was nightjars. Unfortunate and surprisingly, they did not showed up in the tracks, though we could see some other birds which I will not mention as they are not nocturnal, the way we found them was not very “natural” by driving a car in the night, and we found them somewhere else during the day, except one, whose visual contact is always difficult and joined Barbara and Derek’s list for Zapata for the first time: a Quail!

The atmosphere at Montes de Malaga was very different from that in the last months; there was complete silence up there. It was just broken before dawn by a very short but close song by... a Red-necked Nightjar! The typical explosion of sound at the break of dawn was a very weak one this time with calls dominating songs, being Blackbirds the first to get up.

In spite of this quietness, all the typical forest birds like Firecrest, tits, Nuthatch, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Common Crossbill, Hawfinch, Bonelli’s Warbler, Sparrowhawk, etc., flew or called around us to have their tick on the list. That was a great start!

Our second step was doing well in a mountain environment, the so recently appointed UNESCO Word Heritage: El Torcal. Will all the illustrious little summer visitors to the place be available for us? Let’s see. We saw the first Griffon Vultures from Villanueva. We stopped near the road to the visitors centre to watch a fantastic Short-toed Eagles sitting on a pylon when we spotted a Spectacled Warbler on a broom, Woodchat Shrike with juveniles, and Crag Martins and Pallid Swifts in the cliffs. Another stop by the road gave us Melodious Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Nightingale and Thekla Lark. Once at the visitors centre, it did not take long to spot Alpine Swift, Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow and Subalpine Warbler. El Torcal is not only World Heritage, but Birds Heritage too!

We were doing really great, let’s go on to Fuente Piedra! A few drops fell while leaving El Torcal, and the Antequera Valley looked very dark and cloudy. That is very welcome in the middle of the summer. Soon, the best observation of the day took place: two males of Rufous Bush Robin singing in a vineyard next to the road! It was really good to see these birds that were once so common in Malaga and have become so scarce in the last years.

Once at Fuente de Piedra, the results could not have been better: apart from the minimum (but a few hundred!) stock of Greater Flamingos, we got Hoopoe, Olivaceus Warbler, Cattle Egret, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Tawny Pipit  and Zitting Cisticola. We also had surprises like the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the season, a female Ferruginous Duck and a young Night Heron hiding in the reeds near the Laguneto. We saw the first big flock of moving Black Kites and a few Stone Curlews on our way out of the visitors centre.

We stopped for lunch under an Olive Tree at 35ºC; all the morning clouds had completely disappeared. Life can also be great without air conditioning! By that time we had already recorded the unbelievable amount of 95 species, it was almost done!

As we all expected, the farmlands under such a heat wave were not productive at all. Just a female Marsh Harrier near Campillos for the list.

The visit to the Peñarrubia cliff produced a big flock of vultures, the Peregrine Falcon and a pair of Great-crested Grebes in the reservoir. Only two birds away from target! As we did so good at El Torcal, we decided to skip our second mountain environment in the tour (El Chorro) and head straight to Rio Grande.

First Little Egret (99) and... was that a Purple Heron in the distance? If so, Barbara would have lost the 100 game as she bet for Bee-eater, which was the next bird to come out! But no, it was a Grey Heron that we had already seen in Fuente de Piedra, so Barbara won the 100 game with her Bee-eater. Grey Wagtail and Turtle Dove completed the list at Rio Grande.

We celebrated this great birding day at Cohete, near Zapata, our meeting point this morning, and we finished the day with a short visit to the ditch, where Common Waxbill, Monk Parakeet and Reed Warbler rounded off a list of 106 birds.

Great birding in the best possible company!

You can also live these experiences !!!

Complete list of birds:

  SPECIES SCIENTIFIC NAME
1 Alpine Swift  Apus melba
2 Avocet  Recurvirostra avosetta
3 Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica
4 Bee-eater Merops apiaster
5 Black Kite Milvus migrans
6 Black Redstart  Phoenicurus ochruros
7 Black Wheatear  Oenanthe leucura
8 Blackbird  Turdus merula
9 Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
10 Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
11 Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus
12 Black-tailed Godwit  Limosa limosa
13 Black-winged Stilt  Himantopus himantopus
14 Blue Rock Thrush  Monticola solitarius
15 Blue Tit  Cyanistes caeruleus
16 Booted Eagle  Aquila pennata
17 Cattle Egret  Bubulcus ibis
18 Cetti’s Warbler  Cettia cetti
19 Chaffinch  Fringilla coelebs
20 Coal Tit  Periparus ater
21 Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
22 Common Buzzard  Buteo buteo
23 Common Crossbill  Loxia curvirostra
24 Common Sandpiper  Actitis hypoleucos
25 Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
26 Coot  Fulica atra
27 Crag Martin  Ptyonoprogne rupestris
28 Crested Lark  Galerida cristata
29 Crested Tit  Lophophanes cristatus
30 Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
31 Firecrest  Regulus ignicapilla
32 Flamingo  Phoenicopterus roseus
33 Goldfinch  Carduelis carduelis
34 Great Crested Grebe  Podiceps cristatus
35 Great Spotted Woodpecker  Dendrocopos major
36 Great Tit  Parus major
37 Green Sandpiper  Tringa ochropus
38 Green Woodpecker  Picus viridis
39 Greenfinch  Chloris chloris
40 Grey Heron  Ardea cinerea
41 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
42 Griffon Vulture  Gyps fulvus
43 Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
44 Hawfinch  Coccothraustes coccothraustes
45 Hoopoe  Upupa epops
46 House Martin  Delichon urbicum
47 House Sparrow Passer domesticus
48 Jay  Garrulus glandarius
49 Kestrel  Falco tinnunculus
50 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
51 Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
52 Linnet Carduelis cannabina
53 Little Egret  Egretta garzetta
54 Little Grebe  Tachybaptus ruficollis
55 Little Ringed Plover  Charadrius dubius
56 Long-tailed Tit  Aegithalos caudatus
57 Mallard  Anas platyrhynchos
58 Marsh Harrier  Circus aeruginosus
59 Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
60 Monk Parakeet  Myiopsitta monachus
61 Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
62 Moorhen  Gallinula chloropus
63 Night Heron  Nycticorax nycticorax
64 Nightingale  Luscinia megarhynchos
65 Nuthatch  Sitta europaea
66 Pallid Swift  Apus pallidus
67 Peregrine Falcon  Falco peregrinus
68 Pochard  Aythya ferina
69 Quail Coturnix coturnix
70 Red-crested Pochard  Netta rufina
71 Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
72 Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis
73 Red-rumped Swallow  Cecropis daurica
74 Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
75 Robin Erithacus rubecula
76 Rock Bunting  Emberiza cia
77 Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia
78 Ruff Philomachus pugnax
79 Rufuous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes
80 Sardinian Warbler  Sylvia melanocephala
81 Serin  Serinus serinus
82 Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
83 Short-toed Eagle  Circaetus gallicus
84 Short-toed Treecreeper  Certhia brachydactyla
85 Shoveler Anas clypeata
86 Sparrowhawk  Accipiter nisus
87 Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
88 Spotless Starling  Sturnus unicolor
89 Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
90 Stone Curlew  Burhinus oedicnemus
91 Stonechat  Saxicola torquatus
92 Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
93 Swift  Apus apus
94 Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
95 Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
96 Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
97 Western Bonelli’s Warbler  Phylloscopus bonelli
98 Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca
99 White Wagtail Motacilla alba
100 White-headed Duck  Oxyura leucocephala
101 Wood Pigeon  Columba palumbus
102 Woodchat Shrike  Lanius senator
103 Wren  Troglodytes troglodytes
104 Yellow Wagtail  Motacilla flava
105 Yellow-legged Gull  Larus michahelis
106 Zitting Cisticola  Cisticola juncidis
Last modified onMonday, 20 March 2017 11:11