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Routes & Birdwatching Sites

Birding Málaga

Routes & Birdwatching Sites

GR 249. Stage 29: Casares - Estepona


Casares is a star site for birdwatching, both the sierra and the village centre, since they hold a breeding population of Lesser Kestrel and various pairs of Griffon Vulture in the rock faces visible from the viewpoints. Around the Arroyo de los Molinos you will be able to see river birds and species typical of cultivated areas. You will be walking along this characteristic environment of the Strait of Gibraltar region having flanked the southern corner of Sierra Bermeja. Here, the substrate changes to metamorphic rock.

The great attraction of this stage is the Sierra, composed of plutonic rock, which offers beautiful views that include the African continent. The final section leads to Arroyo of La Cala, which takes you to the Paseo Maritimo of Estepona. This beach promenade provides an opportunity to see coastal birds.

 

Highlighted Species

The very start of Stage 29 produces a great number of birds which, depending on the season, can be highly diverse and abundant. In spring and summer the are the swifts, swallows and the most frequent House Martins, accompanied by Griffon Vultures (often in the village itself), Common Kestrels, Collared Dove, Spotless and Common Starlings, Jackdaw and House Sparrow.

Next, as you enter the flysch of Aljibe, the wild olive and mastic bushes support Turtle Dove, Robin, Stonechat, Mistle and Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Sardinian Warblers, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Greenfinch, Serin and Rock Bunting. Around the Arroyo de los Molinos the following birds may turn up: Great Spotted Woodpecker, White and Grey Wagtail Wren and, on occasion, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (which also occurs in the vineyards in Cortijo del Robledal). It is a peculiar fact that during the breeding season Spectacled Warbler and Tawny Pipit can be seen here, species linked to higher altitudes in the rest of the province.

From this area until you pass through the settlement called Acedía, dotted with houses, and cork oaks mixed with scrubland constituting the main vegetation; again the already mentioned forest species occur, alongside those typical of open spaces: Spotted Woodpecker, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Eurasian Jay, Blackcap, Great Tit and Chaffinch along with Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler and Stonechat. Upon reaching the viewpoint of Peñas Blancas you can enjoy a broad view of Sierra Bermeja, and this is a good moment to scan the sky for raptors. Here you can see Griffon Vulture, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, and with a little luck, Golden Eagle. During times of migration passage you can also observe Black Kite and Honey Buzzard. Next, you will come to Arroyo Vaquero and enter the sierra.

Following the stream along the slightly uphill section among pines and cork oaks, you can find European Turtle Dove, Wryneck, Robin, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Golden Oriole, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch and Common Linnet, plus Starlings and House Sparrows around the buildings. The climb leads to an esplanade where you will be able to see the section of mountains ahead and the town landfill, which sometimes attracts concentrations of thousands of birds. The majority are gulls (Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed), although there are also Cattle Egrets, Griffon Vultures and, during migration periods, large numbers of Black Kites and White Storks.

The sierra Bermeja slopes are covered with loose rocks which can be hard on your ankles and you must tread carefully. The history of forest fires of the Sierra is clearly visible here, looking at the scarcity and dispersion of maritime pines. However, there is a single stand of pine before Barranco del Infierno. This area is dominated by larks, Stonechat, Black Redstart and Sardinian Warbler, together with finches, such as Goldfinch, Common Linnet and Greenfinch. You do need to keep looking at the sky as you may see some of the previously named raptors and gulls coming and going to the landfill. You could also spot the Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush here. With luck, you may hear and see the Eagle Owl.

Near Guadalobón river the abundance of birds increases, as they flock to the water, something that frequently happens during the summer months. As you leave behind the area of loose rocks and reach the road which connects Estepona with Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja, you are still 10 kilometres away from your destination. You are now at the basin of the stream of La Cala, where young cork oaks and cistus scrub plus inhabited areas with vegetable plots appear.  Here, again, there is a community of forest bird species accompanied by the birds accustomed to human presence, named above. Grey Wagtails and Reed Warblers, which nest in reed beds, remind you that you are walking close to a watercourse. It is not uncommon to observe the Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Kestrel before approaching the centre of Estepona. As before, you will notice Collared Doves, Starlings and House Sparrows approaching the town centre. Along the beach promenade of Estepona you will have a chance to see marine and coastal species, which are listed in Stage 30 (Estepona - Marbella).

Itinerary

This stage offers varied scenery. It goes through the forest covered in cork oaks and pasture, and then expands from northward shady slopes, rich in plant life, to an old cereal fields area, where an old water mill can be seen.

 

Route On foot
Trail Type Lineal
Distance 24200
Estimated Time 7:00