ANDALUCIAN BIRDS

 PHOTO GALLERY


PIED FLY CATCHER

GOOD OLD ROBIN

PIED FLY CATCHER


ROCK BUNTING


YOUNG GOLDFINCH

BLUE TIT AFTER A BATH



I think everyone would agree that there are many different kinds of birds. Raptors, song birds, aquatic birds, big birds and tiny, nervous twig-to-twig jumpers. There are also "rare birds". Birds considered to belong to this category make many bird watchers flock (pun intended) to certain areas of certain countries, so that they can tick off a rarity in their notebooks. While there is  nothing wrong with that, just as there is nothing wrong with collecting stamps, I do wonder though what "a rarity" really means and what satisfaction one can get from finding it, other than a mark on paper.

Common Chiffchaff a lovely non-rarity

Let´s look at the first part of the question: what is a rarity? I meet many people who are accustomed to seeing and, more importantly, not seeing, certain birds depending where they come from. If they come from the UK, they would have never seen a Bee-Eater unless they are travelers, but this one is easy - everyone loves the colorful and exotic acrobatic clown.

However, things become more difficult when we want to define whether a Stonechat is worth stopping for and devoting precious binocular time to or if the Red Kite is something to be happy about seeing on your holiday in Andalucía. Stonechats are abundant in Serranía de Ronda and also in certain parts of the UK. In other parts of the UK they are a rare visitor. It´s a lovely, bold and colourful bird, especially the male as it often is the case. Red Kites on the other hand are rarely seen in Andalucía, while in certain parts of the UK I am told that they come into pub gardens to steal meat off customers´plates.
The Woodchat Shrike is fascinating because of its beauty, boldness and very peculiar table manners and it is not present in the UK. I cannot say it is a rare bird in Andalucia. 
The whole concept of rarities gets even more complex if we ask: is this bird rare in Spain? The answer is easy in only a few cases. The Lammergeier is rare, as is the Bald Ibis. These are birds which, thanks to human carelessness, were either extinct at certain points in time and artificially re-introduced like the Lammergeier, or are close to extinction like the Bald Ibis. But what about the Egyptian Vulture? The beautiful white and black vulture is on a fast track to extinction in Andalucia whilst in the North of Spain it is doing relatively all right.

How about the Azure-winged Magpie or the Great Spotted Cuckoo? They are abundant in Granada province but here in the Ronda area they are virtually impossible to see. The quite drab-looking Rock Sparrow is a sought-after tick-offable bird. It is considered a treat in Spain as well. However in Serranía de Ronda there are particular, highly localised spots where the bird is abundant.

What about the "common" black and white Magpie? I have not seen one in ages as the Ronda area does not have them and I would dearly love to be able to watch this intelligent, brave bird and its behaviour. What about the Golden Oriole? It is beautiful, abundant around rivers with tall trees and yet many people have never seen one simply because one would have to possess a slow motion option in one´s brain to be able to appreciate the golden flash from one poplar to another.

I don´t have a simple answer to the question: is the bird we´re looking at rare? All I can say is that all birds are fascinating. Some may seem more fascinating than others because of their beauty or their behaviour.  Some are easier or more difficult to find in the particular area and any of them may be on their way to extinction sometime because of a loss of habitat, food supply or a direct threat from us humans if they happen to stand in our way in the competition for resources and territory.

Let´s enjoy all of the birds, while we still can. That, I think, answers the second part of my question: what satisfaction does one get from finding a rarity? Definitely there is a joy of seeing something new and unfamiliar, but there is also the joy associated with seeing what it is: a bird in its habitat going about its daily business of being a bird. And that´s always worth stopping for and lifting your binoculars in amazement.


The Griffon Vulture (Gyps Fulvus) Buitre Leonado






 Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) Alimoche

Woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) Alcaudón común

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) Críalo Europeo