Ronda - Bird routes in Ronda **
The Alameda del Tajo is the town’s major park. Many commonly known birds, such as pigeons (Columba domestica), take refuge in its trees, finding plenty to eat in the waste left there by visitors. A council ban forbids the feeding of these birds. The high population of these birds has caused serious problems for the conservation of several historic buildings. The light grey, black collared, turtle dove (Streptopelia decaocto), recognisable by its monotone cooing, has recently colonised the town’s green spaces.
At night, if one is patient, it is possible to observe the silent flight of a tawny owl (Strix aluco), seeking for rodents, birds and insects. Pallid swifts (Apus pallidus) are regular summer visitors, nesting in cracks in the masonry or under roof tiles. It is common to see them banding together in fast flying groups. In winter one can see abundant white wagtails. The chiffchaff (Motacilla alba) flits nervously from branch to branch looking for grubs. The siskin (Carduelis spinus), on the other hand, is a seed eater and often feeds on toa seeds. The house martin (Delichon urbica) catches insects in mid flight and builds its nest out of mud, usually on the sides of buildings.
Other birds that can be seen in these parks and gardens include: blackbirds (Turdus merula), goldcrests (Regulus regulus), spotted fly catchers (Muscicapa striata), pied fly catchers (Ficedula hypoleuca), blue tits (Parus caeruleus), great tits (Parus major), short toed treecreepers (Certhia brachydactyla), spotless starlings (Sturnus unicolor), house sparrows (Passer domesticus), greenfinches (Carduelis chloris), goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), common crossbills (Loxia curvirostra), hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccotharaustes), etc.
From any corner of the Tajo of Ronda it is possible to see impressive birds of prey. Especially good observation points can be found in the walkway of ‘los Ingleses’ and the gardens of ‘Blas Infante’. Other good places are the New Bridge, the plaza de Maria Auxiliadora, the monument to the Virgin of Rocio, etc. The most common species to be seen are lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni), choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus) and peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus). The first two can often be seen quarrelling with each other over some morsel, whilst the latter can be seen making spectacular dives to catch its prey, usually pigeons. The largest nocturnal hunter is the eagle owl (Bubo bubo). There has recently been a drastic drop in the local population. This has in part been caused by electric cables. Other inhabitants of the Tajo are the alpine swift (Apus melba), the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius), the rock bunting (Emberiza cia), and the wren (Troglodytes troglodytes).
The Alameda del Tajo’s balconies are excellent spots from which to contemplate the flight of migrating flocks, especially in spring and autumn, watching the birds as they pass between the continents of Europe and Africa. One might also be surprised by the high soaring flight of a griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) that silently scrutinises the surrounding fields, looking for carrion.