Situated about 30km north of Malaga near the town of Antequera, the stunning limestone crags of El Torcal are only a short drive from Fuente de Piedra, and provide a wonderful contrast to the flat, open spaces of the wetland reserve.
The highly eroded rock formations have a wonderful, almost other-worldly feel – many thanks to our friend Marianne for the shot we’ve shown here – and with time to spare after our visit to the lagoon we were keen to see what this unique “karst” habitat has to offer at this time of year.
Without a doubt, the main attraction here has to be the colony of Griffon Vultures, and sure enough these magnificent raptors could be seen soaring overhead throughout the day. Poor light made photography a little difficult – apologies for the silhouettes we’ve posted today! – but the views we had were nothing short of spectacular.
With passage species already arriving down at Fuente de Piedra I thought we might pick up some summer visitors here too, but despite some sunny breaks in the cloud cover spring has yet to arrive at this higher altitude. Still, there were birds to be found here and we cobbled together a day-list nonetheless.
Blackbirds, Robins, Blue Tits and Great Tits all showed well, and House Sparrows chirped and chattered around the visitors centre. Stonechat and Black Redstarts too were no surprise, and we picked up Crested Larks within no time at all.
Large winter flocks of Spotless Starlings and Goldfinches were a nice distraction through the course of the day, and before we left maybe thirty or so noisy Choughs returned to roost on the higher outcrops. It was nice to see good numbers of Ibex today – almost completely unconcerned by our presence as we explored the reserve’s winding network of paths and tracks.
The highlight of our visit? Griffon Vultures, of course…and for me, terrific views of brightly coloured, pristine Rock Buntings, that let us get really close as they foraged on the ground for seeds and insects. Superb!
El Torcal is just one of the many fantastic destinations that we visit through the birdwatching year. Our day-trips and holidays are the perfect introduction to birding in southern Spain: for details on how to join us, click here…and for all our latest news and trip reports, please keep reading our posts!