Yesterday guests told us enthusiastically that they had spotted a pair of Bonelli´s eagles, halfway from Bérchules towards the Junta de los Ríos. As keen bird watchers they knew that this was quite an unique experience as only a thousand odd pairs of this ´Hieraaetus fasciatus´ survive in Europe. The article about the Bonelli´s eagle on Wikipedia explains that it is a large bird of prey. Its population is declining throughout Europe. The strongest populations are in Extremadura, Andalucia, Valencia and Castilla La Mancha, though the bird appears to be in decline everywhere. This bird is classified as ´endangerd´ in the ´Libro Rojo de las Aves de España´ published by SEO/BirdLife. A survey by the Junta de Andalucía in 2005 puts the number of Bonelli's eagle at 650 throughout Andalusia, between 52 and 56 pairs in the Granada province as we can read in the article ´Aguilas perdiceras en el sur de España´ on Waste Magazine. As far as we know, the river valley of the Río Grande de Bérchules is not described as a site in any bird watching book, but is nevertheless interesting. Another bird that was seen on the Junta de los Rios route last week, was a pair of red kites. It was the first time that we heard of an observation of this Milvus Milvus, and we therfore added this red kite to a our bird watching Sierra Nevada check list. Like the Bonelli´s eagle, the red kite is also on the list of 39 ´endangerd´ epecies in the ´Libro Rojo de las Aves de España´.
In general, the Alpujarras offer ornithologists considerable opportunities for exploration of interesting habitats. Three sites in the Alpujarras are described in the ornitholgocial publication ´Where to Watch birds in Southern and Western Spain´ by Ernest García and Andres Paterson: cortijo Dar al Habibi and parque forestal de Soportújar, Capileira to Sierra Nevada and the valley of Trevélez river. On the list of resident Alpujarran birds in this book, figures the Bonelli´s Eagle. We had heard about people seeing the Bonelli´s eagle a number of times, once above ´El Paraje´, but this was the first time a pair was spotted. It could therefor very well be that there´s a nesting place in the river valley of Bérchules, one of the very few in Europe.
Read our bird watching checklist for the Alpujarras - Sierra Nevada here.