A short break in Nerja, Andalucia

It's half term, so now that Bernie had had all four inspections a school could get in the space of ten months (and be rated as outstanding in every one of them), it was necessary to get her away for a few days so that the temptation of dealing with the pile of stuff at school was put well out of reach. Neither of us are fans of hot weather and lolling around on a beach but we thought that a trip to Nerja on the Costa Del Sol at this time of year would be just the tonic. And so it has proven to be.

We hired a car from Malaga airport and got a small hotel in Nerja - Casa Mercedes in a quiet part of the town - from where we could just loll around or set out to see some of the area.

In birding terms, there's not a lot written about this place as most of the really good sites are in the west so I thought I'd make note of a couple of trips we've made (though travelling some distance.

From the hotel balcony, we've been visited by the commoner species such as Serin, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstarts and Blackcaps that inhabit the scrubby area below the hotel. I've also heard Cetti's Warbler and had Chiffchaff and Crag Martins (which can be sen easily at the coast over the beaches). One evening of stronger winds  brought Cory's Shearwaters into the bay and a couple of Gannets are regularly offshore. There has been a steady passage of Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails each morning and I guess an influx of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes that the local's take exception to. Robin, Goldfinch and Yellow-legged Gull are all regular too, not to mention the evening flights of Starling spp coming to roost and Cattle Egrets, etc.
Bonelli's Eagle
Yesterday we took a trip up into the mountains at the Zaffaraya Pass. Birds were a little thin on the ground at first as a gusty wind kept a lot of things down but we eventually got good views of Black Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrushes and Thekla Larks as well as lots of Stonechats and Black Redstarts. Finches were commonplace - Green, Gold and Chaffinch with a trio of Rock Sparrows thrown in for good measure. Again, there were lots of Mipits, Chiffchaffs and Sardinian Warblers. There were no birds of prey until we 'd nearly completed our walk when a Bonelli's Eagle soared over the pass and a juvenile Hobby zipped through.

After that we made our way to the Laguna Fuenta de Piedra - a bit of a drive but we loved the quiet roads and scenery. Once there we scanned the hundreds, no, thousands of Greater Flamingoes out over the Laguna. A few juveniles were closer on some of the pools along with Marsh Harriers (lots!) and a ringtail Hen Harrier. Other birds included Black-winged Stilts, loads of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, lots of Little Grebes and the odd Black-necked. I was particularly happy to see 60 Cranes on one of the fields next to the lake, some of which trumpeted briefly. My day was made all the better when a small flock of Woodlarks landed nearby - just love their calls.

From there, it was getting late in the afternoon so we headed to Laguna Dolce to see what was there - lots of White-headed Ducks, Red Crested Pochard, loads of Coots and flocks of Little and Black-necked Grebes. It was all too much to fit in so we're heading back there tomorrow! A hoopoe flew up from the road and a Black-winged Kite sat on a telegraph pole as we made our way back to Nerja.

Today has been spent visiting the Alhambra in Granada. A magnificent site and well worth the trip.

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