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A Report from

Costa del Sol - Estepona (July '99),

Alf King

We stayed near Estepona in late July 1999 and had a pretty good time whilst not encountering anything really special. Having said that, I twice saw "Swifts with white rumps", whilst driving from the airport but, despite all efforts failed to connect with anything similar again. I am very familiar with martins and these were definitely swifts - next time maybe. 

The two trips that we found particularly rewarding were to La Janda and to Laguna de Medina

La Janda is an absolute must and should be tried reasonably early. There was an abundance of common species with excellent sightings of Collared Pratincole (from 10 feet!) and Montagu's Harrier, again very confiding. The area is particularly good, everything that you hope to encounter in Spain and it would seem that we didn't see anything like the best of it. There are Great and Little Bustard reasonably accessible in the area and their favourite habitats are easily viewed. The day that we were there, there was farm work going on in the area so no joy. Additionally we didn't connect with many raptors there which is unusual. Other sightings included Fan-tailed Warbler, Short-toed Eagle (sitting on a lamp-post), Marsh Harrier, lots of White Stork and Turtle Dove (100's). 

Laguna de Medina is a longish drive but worthwhile. White-headed Duck were readily seen, as were Marbled Teal (Duck?) after some searching. Greater Flamingo were very impressive. Others seen there included Black-eared Wheatear, Short-toed Lark, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Cetti's Warbler, R-C Pochard, Griffon Vulture (en route) and B-T Godwit.  

The road to Ronda via Coin is a very interesting journey, but,  the weather was not with us that day so we were limited to lesser kestrel and a party of chough. 

Around Estepona itself there is some good walking possible. If you take the turning to the golf course off the main road then park IMMEDIATELY in a small lay-by you can enjoy a rewarding walk up to the clubhouse. Nothing really special but including Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow in numbers, Wheatear, Hoopoe, Serin, Bee-eater, Woodchat, Peregrine and Olivaceous warbler.

Opposite our apartment just after the westernmost roundabout leading into the town there is a road to the Valle Romana, a failed tourist development. Up here there were Pallid Swift, Woodchat, Bee-eaters, Red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler and Booted Eagle. Outside our apartment we had Red-necked Nightjar feeding on many evenings and Kentish Plover nesting on the beach. 

Estepona is a good base for birding if you have a planned itinerary (and a wife who also likes birding). The apartment that we rented (1 bedroom only) was ideal as it has a birding log together with details on many sites left by previous occupants.

Alf King     

Where to watch birds in Southern and Western Spain
Ernest Garcia and Andrew Paterson: Buy from or

  • "The reprint and update of this excellent book have been long awaited. I have birded in this region of Spain many times and yet I still have much to learn, Garcia and Paterson are the experts. Where else in Europe can you see five species of swift in one day? Did you know that Ruppel's Griffon Vulture is now regular in part of the region? New sites have been added and access details thoroughly updated. Areas covered include birding hotspots such as Extremadura, Gibraltar and Ronda. A "must buy" if you are traveling to Southern Spain."


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