Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Rocky Road To Ronda

Last day of spring so I decided to put in a couple of early morning hours along the road to Ronda. With limited time I stayed along the east end around the villages of Yunquera and Jolox. Finding places to pull off the mountain road wasn't as easy as expected though I managed to find at least three. A single Turtle Dove at the first was a trip tick along with Coal Tit. 

At the second I spent a good while looking out over a superb area of forest-covered mountain fully expecting a few raptors and ended up with nada. This particular vantage looked out over a few interesting looking caves that looked like prime Eagle Owl breeding sites but despite scouring all the nearby vantages I again drew a blank.

Further back to base there was a small picnic site pull in conveniently placed below a narrow wooded gorge just before the right turn for Jorox, another tiny white village. I stopped here for a while content watching a few pairs of Crag Martin nesting in the entrance of a small hillside cave. A pair of Blue Rock Thrushes darted and sang from rocky perches just above me. Goldfinches dropped below my feet to feed in cliff-side weeds and an odd-looking sparrow took off through the arch of the narrow road bridge.

Padding back over to look down into the village and along the tiny mountain stream tumbling through the rocks and vegetation I was pleased to relocate a Rock Sparrow perched in a tree -top just below me. Walking back up the gorge I could an unfamiliar song and began scanning the boulder strewn rocks across from me, a small bird with a grey head with black stripes and longish looking tail flew into a small tree. After several attempts Rock Bunting had finally given itself up; a second individual flew downstream and I once again moved to the bridge looking down and though distant watched for a while as a male fluttered around the stream edges, fly-catching and dancing over the water.

In the evening I drove east until I met the Rio Grande river. With a vantage from a small bridge I was in heron heaven with up to five Purple Herons in the area, a small colony of Night Herons with adults lurching out into the night and juveniles calling all around and landing clumsily in the shallows just below. Several Little Egrets also past overhead on a roughly west to east transect. Cetti's Warbler pumped out some volume from one bank and a Hoopoe flew from the river presumably to roost in the gloom. The calls from the Night Herons intermingled with various amphibian and insect noises producing an incredible soundscape, whilst dinner-plate sized Terrapins occasionally surfaced or descended with a liquid plop.

A pair of Red-rumped Swallows using the bridge as a nesting structure offered a chance to clart about trying to 'create' an image as they perched on overhanging riverside vegetation in the dyeing evening light.

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