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Wednesday 19 December, Gaucin, light breeze from S-SW, mostly sunny, 16C: A morning trip to Ronda for the car ITV (MOT) gave me an opportunity to see what was around on the Encinas Borrachas track between Atajate and Ronda. It felt a little strange to be in this, usually rather cold, place in the middle of December in a t-shirt! The first stop, on the way to Ronda, was fairly quiet with 20 Red-billed Chough, a flock of 6-8 Thekla Lark, a pair of Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Woodlark (heard) and Dartford Warbler (heard) the highlights. On the return trip at 1200hrs I stopped in the lay-by at the entrance to the track and with my binoculars picked up a large eagle perched on a rock at the top of the escarpment; once I got the 'scope out of the car I could see a golden head and nape and the white 'shoulder patches' that are diagnostic for Spanish Imperial Eagle. I watched this wonderful bird for a minute or two before it took off and flew SW along, and frustratingly often, behind, the limestone ridge - limited views of the underbelly suggested a 2-3CY bird. Shortly afterwards, possibly spooked by their big cousin, a pair of adult Bonelli's Eagle drifted up from behind the ridge and wheeled away almost directly overhead. Add to the eagles 3 more Blue Rock Thrush and a couple of Black Wheatear and the fact that the car passed the ITV; and to think I wasn't looking forward to going to Ronda today!

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