To the non-urban birder Málaga is simply an airport and gateway to the rest of the Costa del Sol. For me, and a growing army of birders, the city and its surrounds is a magnet for some really special birds. It is possible to watch Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear and overflying Booted Eagle whilst sipping a cold beer in the city centre after spending some stimulating time in the Pablo Picasso Museum. What other city could you do that in?
So, it was a great honour to be asked by the Málaga City Tourism Board to lead a group of British and Irish journalists around the province alongside my great friend and Málaga’s very own Urban Birder, Luis Alberto Rodrigues. Despite the poor weather forecast (wet November days) we knew that we could deliver the birds as we were going to follow Luis Alberto’s Málaga in 100 Birds route. The scene was set.
Once we picked up the journalists from the airport and they had decanted in the hotel we set off in the minibus to our first port of call La Concepción Botanical Garden that, interestingly, is a 150 year old English designed garden. The weather wasn’t great, mostly grey skies with light showers but we still managed to see some decent birds. Crag Martin swilled overhead as a lone Black Stork drifted by which was a real surprise – as was a male Rock Bunting sitting in a conifer flycatching insects! Firecrest, Blackcap and Serin were not so surprising but a Blue Rock Thrush that put on a performance on a graffiti-covered concrete wall was a treat as was the very well hidden Black Wheatear on the dam wall (Pressa de Limonero). We also had a weird Red Squirrel moment when I was ‘pishing’ a Firecrest and instead called down an inquisitive squirrel!
Our first day ended at the imposing Arabic 14th century Gibralfaro Castle with its amazing views over the city. Aside from Lesser Black-backs and Yellow-legged Gulls we enjoyed distant views of a pair of Peregrines sitting high on the dockland cranes.