Thursday 29 March 2018

Sierra Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 28 March

It looks like the birding activity is well and truly under way with  the latest report from my friend David Elliott-Binns and reflected with some great sights by his Arboleas Birding Group, especially the Great Spotted Cuckoo, a first Common Cuckoo of the year along with Booted Eagle and Sparrowhawk et al.  Am I the only one yet to record both Common Cuckoo and Yellow Wagtail this year?  I shall just have to keep on trying.

Sierra Maria:  Wednesday 28th March

Even though it would be the third time I'd been to the Sierra Maria in ten days, I was still looking forward to a days birdwatching with the Arboleas Birding Group especially as the weather had improved so much.  No high winds, only sun and blue skies! I got picked up by Richard in his brand new person carrier.  We stopped at the Overa Hotel, junction 547, to pick up John and Les.  They arrived as a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew by.  We made our way to the garage cafe in Maria, seeing Rock Bunting, Crag and House Martin on the way amongst other commoner birds.  Trevor and Ann were waiting for us.  After Brian and Mary arrived we made our way to the chapel area.  Near the fuente there were numerous Chaffinch.  A Great Tit was seen. I spotted the first Griffon Vulture of the day, but the stars were about a dozen Siskin in and around the poplar tree.

Male Siskin Carduelis spinus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Walking up to the Botanical Gardens we added a Robin, male Stonechat and a female Cirl Bunting.  In the gardens, Trevor did well to spot the protruding head of a Raven perched on a tree some distance away. Meanwhile Richard, who'd driven up, had seen Crossbill and Crested Tit.  The more hardy of us did the lower walk and only added a Woodpigeon whilst the remainers saw Long Tailed and Coal Tit.  A Magpie was seen as we walked back to the cars.
Crested Tit Parus cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then made our way to the farm buildings, seeing a Blackbird on the way.  As soon as we parked up you could hear Rock Sparrows calling.  Many were seen.  A Barn Swallow was flying around and I also spotted a female Black Redstart.  There were Crossbill waiting to drink in the deposito.
Moving on to the farm water trough, there was a Crested Lark by the overflow.  We could hear a distant Eurasian Cuckoo calling.  Our first of the year.   Les spotted a Corn Bunting and I found a distant soaring Booted Eagle. 
(Blue-headed) Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Driving down the long plain straight, us in the first car saw a flying Calandra Lark and those behind found a perched Little Owl.  At the hamlet we counted 12 Lesser Kestrels.  There were two Red-billed Chough hanging around one of the barns.  A Carrion Crow was seen.  I found a Meadow Pipit whilst a Yellow Wagtail showed well among some White cousins.  Les found a Skylark and also spotted a Short-toed Lark as we headed back towards the La Piza forest cafe.
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax (PHOTO: Mary Taylor)
The nut feeders were being well used by all the Tits...Long Tailed, Crested, Coal, Great and Blue ones.  Chaffinch were feeding underneath and Crossbill were using the water drinking facilities!  A Jay made an appearance.  Les found a male Blackcap.  Then what appeared to feed on some bread...a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Unfortunately when we got back to Richard's brand new car, someone had reversed into a passenger door, stoving it in.  As we headed back towards Velez Blanco we saw a flying Sparrowhawk. Between there and Velez Rubio we had another Great Spotted Cuckoo.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Apart from the damaged car, we had a brilliant days birding in good weather and company.  Finished the day with 43 species.  Photos by me unless otherwise stated.       Regards, Dave

Some wonderful birds seen Dave and, apart form the car incident, it certainly reads as if you had a great day.  No wonder it was your third visit in just over a week.  And Gilly has actually returned the camera into your care once more!

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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