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International birders flock to Ronda village for Andalucía festival
Birding

International birders flock to Ronda village for Andalucía festival

The village of Montejaque has brought together birdwatching enthusiasts for the first time with a range of events this weekend

Vanessa Melgar

Ronda

Friday, 19 April 2024, 19:23

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Montejaque has been taken over by ornithology this weekend. This village in the Guadiaro valley, in the Serranía de Ronda, is one of the best places for birdwatching, an activity gaining enthusiasts, both national and international. The town's first Andalucía Bird Festival, a fair that aims to become a permanent fixture on any birder's calendar, opened this Friday, 19 April.

The opening was attended by the Andalusian government's representative in Malaga, Patricia Navarro; the regional delegate for the Environment, José Antonio Víquez; Cristóbal Ortega and María del Carmen Martínez of the provincial authority; and the mayor of Montejaque, Diego Sánchez, among others, such as Alfredo Carrasco, a specialist ornithology guide, who is head of the company Nature Tours Andalucía and a key figure in the organisation of this event.

The event goes on until this Sunday. The date chosen is no coincidence, as it coincides with the migratory passage of birds between Europe and Africa, making Montejaque an ideal place to spot them given its proximity to the Serranía to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Organised by the Montejaque town hall with the collaboration of the Andalucía Bird Society and renowned ornithologists, different activities have been programmed at the festival, such as talks, exhibitions, ringing and nest box-making workshops, activities for children, and field trips, among others. The central hub for the event is the municipal sports centre.

"The conservation of natural heritage has in itself potential for development and the fight against depopulation," said Navarro, while at the same time she highlighted the need for birdwatching tourism in the region, a segment that helps bring in visitors outside the peak season.

"It is an activity that has aroused great interest in the last two decades with a type of visitor who is aware of the conservation of nature and develops a timeless tourism, as it offers the possibility of birdwatching at any time of the year," she said.

In Malaga province you can observe around 300 species of birds, something that attracts hundreds of tourists, many of them foreigners, especially British. The typical birdwatching tourist is an average age of 50 years and also interested in the flora and fauna in general. The best times to enjoy this activity are autumn and spring. Among the most difficult birds to see are Bonelli's eagles and the most common are vultures and flamingos. The province also has wetlands that are top sites for nesting. Here in Montejaque, in the Malaga part of the Sierra de Grazalema Nature Reserve, it is possible to see the black wheatear, the Thekla's lark, the European stonechat, the booted eagle and also the sought-after Bonelli's eagle.

Programme

This Saturday, the festival will start with a birdwatching route at 10am in the surroundings of El Pantanillo and will conclude at 6.30 pm with another in the surroundings of the Cueva del Hundidero and the Presa de los Caballeros. In addition, talks will be given by Jacinto Segura, Stewart Finlayson, Keith Bensusan, Antonio Román-Muñoz and Jesús Pinilla, among others. There will also be a children's workshop with crafts, drawings and face painting.

On Sunday, the event will continue at 10am with a bird-ringing workshop, another route around the area of the Cueva del Hundidero and the Presa de los Caballeros, a children's workshop on making nesting boxes, the award ceremony for a photography competition that has also been organised and talks by Tim Appleton, director of the Global Bird Fair-UK, in the United Kingdom, Miguel González and Eva Bratek. At 12.15pm a documentary will be shown. The festival will conclude at 5pm with another observation route through El Pantanillo.

The different stands that have been set up in the Montejaque sports centre will be open from 10am to 8pm this Saturday and from 10am to 6pm this Sunday. There will be a bar and restaurant service.

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