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Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Montejaque “gets the bird” (festival)
Tuesday, April 23, 2024 @ 10:29 AM

By Paul Whitelock

Tuesday 23 April 2024

For the first time the small village of Montejaque (Málaga – pop. 980) has played host to the Andalucia Bird Festival.

Over the course of three days last weekend, the festival offered talks, walks and so much more in the Centro de Deportes of this village in the Serrania de Ronda on the edge of the Sierra de Grazalema.

This area is on the migration route of hundreds of bird species, many of them quite rare.



With wide coverage in the local, regional and national press, the organisers, including Englishman Peter Jones, president of the Andalucia Birdwatching Society, and long-time resident of the area, were delighted.

Here are some translated extracts from Ronda-based journalist Vanessa Melgar’s recent article In regional newspaper SUR. Vanessa also writes for local newspaper Ronda Semanal.


Andalucía Bird Festival 2024

Montejaque was the epicentre of ornithology this past weekend. This small town in the Guadiaro valley, in the Serranía de Ronda, is one of the best places for birdwatching, an activity with an increasing number of enthusiasts, both nationally and internationally.

Montejaque celebrated for the first time its Andalucía Bird Festival and hopes it will become a regular feature and a benchmark of this important sector.







Friday 19 April

On Friday, the festival was inaugurated by Patricia Navarro, the delegate of the Andalusian Government in Málaga; José Antonio Víquez, the delegate for the Environment; Cristóbal Ortega and María del Carmen Martínez, the provincial deputies for the Environment and Economy respectively; and Diego Sánchez, the mayor of Montejaque. Also present were, among others, Alfredo Carrasco, a specialist ornithology guide and head of the company Nature Tours Andalucía and the afore-mentioned Peter Jones, both heavily involved in the organisation of this event.

The festival ran for three days until last Sunday. The dates were chosen to coincide with the migratory passage of birds from Europe to Africa, flying over Montejaque and the Serranía de Ronda to the Strait of Gibraltar.

The festival comprised a range of activities including conferences, exhibitions, workshops, ringing birds, making nest boxes and field trips.

"The conservation of natural heritage is in itself a gold mine of development and the fight against depopulation," said Navarro, while highlighting the need to support ornithological tourism.

"It is an activity that has aroused great interest in the last two decades with a type of visitor aware of nature conservation.”

In the province of Málaga you can observe around 300 species of birds, an attraction that attracts hundreds of tourists, especially foreigners mainly British, with an average age of 50 years, also interested in the flora and the rest of the fauna in general.

The best times to enjoy this activity are autumn and spring. The most common species are vultures and flamingoes. The province also has wetlands that are nesting points.

In and around Montejaque it is possible to see the wheatear, the crested lark, the stonechat, the booted eagle and also the rare and much sought-after Bonelli's eagle.





Saturday 20 April

On Day 2 of the festival, Saturday, the programme started with a route, which allowed observation of birds in the surroundings of El Pantanillo and concluded in the evening with another walk in the surroundings of the Cueva del Hundidero and the Presa de los Caballeros.

There were also presentations by Jacinto Segura, Stewart Finlayson, Keith Bensusan, Antonio Román-Muñoz and Jesús Pinilla. There was also a children's workshop of crafts, drawings and face-painting.


Sunday 21 April

On Sunday, the event continued with a bird-ringing workshop in the morning and another route through the area of the Cueva del Hundidero and the Presa de los Caballeros; a children's workshop on making nest boxes; the award ceremony of a photography contest and discussions led by Tim Appleton, director of the Global Bird Fair-UK; Miguel González and Eva Bratek, herself a former resident of Montejaque. After that the documentary film Aguilucha: The Indomitable Spirit was presented.

The Festival concluded with another observation walk through El Pantanillo.



As a resident of Montejaque for many years, I commend mayor Diego Sánchez and his team, for their efforts in boosting the tourism profile of the town.

This festival is just one of the many projects which have been introduced over the years to enhance the offer. Two new car parks, the Mirador, the Caminito and the current project to turn the abandoned Guardia Civil barracks into a hostal for walkers are just some of the steps that have been taken.

Montejaque looks forward to hosting the second Andalucia Bird Festival in 2025.

A round of applause to Peter Jones and Alfredo Carrasco for their enthusiasm and involvement in this inaugural event; to the regional politicians for their support; as well as to guests Tim Appleton, Miguel González and Eva Bratek for their contributions.


© Paul Whitelock 2024



Alfredo Carrasco

Andalucia Birdwatching Society

Ayuntamiento de Montejaque

Diario Sur

Karl Smallman (main photo)

Peter Jones

Vanessa Melgar

Wikipedia (photo)


Further reading:

Birds of Andalucia (quarterly magazine published by the Andalucia Bird Society)

El Sistema Hundidero-Gato by Manu Guerrero Sanchez [Editorial La Serrania]

Las aves de la Serrania de Ronda [Editorial La Serrania]

Sierra de Grazalema (Map and Guidebook) [Editorial Penibética]

The Cookbook and Village Guide (El Libro de Cocina y Guia del Pueblo) by Carolyn Emmett [self-published]

Valle del Guadiaro by Manuel Becerra Parra [Editorial La Serrania]

Walking in Andalucia by Guy Hunter-Watts [Cicerone Press]

Walking in the Ronda Mountains by Tony Bishop and Eva Bratek [Editorial La Serrania]



Aguilucha: The Indomitable Spirit, Alfredo Carrasco, Andalucia Bird Festival, Andalucia Birdwatching Society, Antonio Román-Muñoz, award ceremony, Ayuntamiento de Montejaque, Caminito, Carolyn Emmett, children's workshop, Cicerone Press, Cueva del Hundidero, Diario Sur, Diego Sánchez, Editorial La Serrania, Editorial Penibética, El Libro de Cocina y Guia del Pueblo, El Pantanillo, El Sistema Hundidero-Gato, Eva Bratek, Global Bird Fair-UK, Guardia Civil barracks, Guy Hunter-Watts, Jacinto Segura, Jesús Pinilla, Keith Bensusan, Las aves de la Serrania de Ronda, Manuel Becerra Parra, Manu Guerrero Sánchez, Miguel González, Mirador, Montejaque, nest boxes, ornithology, Paul Whitelock, Peter Jones, photography contest, Presa de los Caballeros, Ronda Semanal, Sierra de Grazalema, Stewart Finlayson, SUR, The Cookbook and Village Guide, Tim Appleton, Tony Bishop, Valle del Guadiaro, Vanessa Melgar, Walking in Andalucia, Walking in the Ronda Mountains, Wikipedia

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