12 Nov, 2015 @ 09:07
2 mins read

Birds eye view on the Costa del Sol


DUQUESA is more famous for its boats, beaches and bars than for birds of the feathered variety, so who would have thought a rooftop in Fuente Duquesa could be a twitcher’s dream.

Griffon vulture
Griffon vulture – click for larger image

That’s exactly what James White from Hereford experienced during his 16-night stay, spotting more than 3,000 birds, including 2,000 birds of prey.

From a resident family of kestrels on the next urbanisation to more than 1,500 honey buzzards, the skies above the western Costa del Sol kept on providing.

Black kites, booted eagles, marsh harriers, ospreys, swallows and swifts kept the 66-year-old company on his rooftop adventure.

Griffon vultures with a wingspan of 3 metres were another remarkable sight, as they are normally only found working over the carcass of a dead animal.

And rare birds such as red-rumped swallows and bee eaters also gave a colourful display.

James, a keen bird watcher and wildlife photographer, exclaimed his surprise at the sheer volume and variety of birds he witnessed.

“Due to its great geographical positioning close to Africa on the natural migration path, Duquesa is a perfect destination,” he told the Olive Press.

It’s easy to see why, sitting comfortably on a roof with a fridge nearby, rather than out in a field or up a mountain.

In fact, residents might want to consider hiring out their rooftops to birdwatchers during the summer months. “They’d make a bomb!” joked James.

All of a flutter



If you have the good fortune to spot the lesser kestrel on a hunt, you’ll be amazed by its speed and agility as it swoops to snatch its prey. Confining its European range to the Mediterranean coast, it prefers to lay its eggs in cosy cliffside nooks or tree hollows.

Honey buzzard

These hardy travellers migrate to the Mediterranean for the summer, with great numbers often seen crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. They can often appear restless, with much ruffling of the wings and shuffling around on their perches.

Black kite

This long-winged bird of prey strikes a dapper image in its black, white and grey plumage and ruby-red irises. As its name suggests, the kite has a habit of hovering in the air as it scans the ground for prey before swooping to snatch its next meal.

Booted eagle
Booted eagle

Booted eagle

This medium-sized bird of prey is stocky with a rounded head and heavily-feathered legs. It hunts small mammals, reptiles and birds up to five times its size.

Marsh harrier
Marsh harrier

Marsh harrier

This large bird of prey winters in tropical Africa, but can be seen summering in Andalucia’s fields and reed beds. It was hunted to extinction in the UK a century ago, but has since been reintroduced.



Sometimes known as the fish eagle, the osprey is a large raptor which nests anywhere near a body of water with an adequate food supply.

Griffon vulture

Like all vultures, this distinctive bird is a scavenger, swooping over open areas on the lookout for dead animal carcassses. It is a typical Old World vulture in appearance, with a very white head, broad wings and short tail feathers.

Red rumped swallow
Red rumped swallow

Red-rumped swallow

A small passerine swallow, it breeds in the rolling hilly landscape of Andalucia, normally nesting in gaps in cliffs and mountains but also happy to adapt to old buildings.

Bee eaters
Bee eaters

Bee eater

This brightly coloured bird is a strong migrator, which comes to southern Europe to breed while wintering in tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka. It nests in sandy banks near river shores during early May. As the name suggests, bees are usually on the menu, as are hornets and wasps.

Tom Powell

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  1. There are a disappointing number of basic errors or highly misleading statements in this article. Admittedly it’s pedantic to object that Griffon Vultures have a maximum wingspan of 2.8m (or less) according to authoritative sources rather than 3m, but other mistakes are less forgiveable. Red-rumped Swallow and Bee-eater may be rare in the UK, but this is an article on Spain where they are both fairly widespread and not uncommon species (esp on migration). To say that the Lesser Kestrel’s range in Europe is confined to the “Mediterranean coast” is misleading and they overwhelmingly nest in buildings with relatively few nesting on cliffs whilst there’s only a single recorded example of tree nesting. Honey Buzzards don’t “migrate to the Mediterranean for summer”, but rather spend the summer across central and northern Europe. The description of ‘Black Kite’ is in fact of the smaller Black-winged Kite which does indeed hover (Black Kites only rarely do so). Booted Eagles don’t hunt prey “up to five times their size” Marsh Harrier wasn’t ‘reintroduced’ to the UK but recolonised naturally. European Bee-eaters do indeed winter in tropical Africa, but not in India or Sri Lanka.

  2. John, I found your post most informative. Every time I go for a walk where I live in France , the Aveyron I see the hawks cruising the skies looking for breakfast or lunch.

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