Friday, 14 September 2018

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 13 September
 
Another interesting outing by the Arboleas Birding Group and especially liked the reference to Whinchats and Orphean Warbler.  Be good if I got to record these two species in the next few weeks along with the Common Redstart that I missed back in the spring.


Sierra de Maria   -   Thursday 13th September 2018

A Thursday for a change as I had a dentist appointment yesterday.  I picked up Alec in Arboleas and headed for Velez Rubio.  The road between the autovia and the town from the east is closed for roadworks, so we were diverted back onto the motorway to get off at the next junction.  Wasn't that far, so not much of a delay.  We met up with Barrie, Beryl, Les, Richard, Mike & Diane at the usual cafe.  The weather was sunny and pleasant so we had our coffee outside watching Barn Swallows and hearing Bee-eaters.  Suitably refreshed we headed to the chapel where we parked up.  Due to his mobility problems, Mike took Richard up to the gardens.  The rest of us checked out the chapel area. Barrie spotted a passing Raven.  Also seen were Chaffinch & Great Tit.  Jacky joined us.  The water trough was being used as a lure by a cat, so I encouraged it to move.  Still nothing took the risk of a drink, but we did see 2-3 Willow Warblers flitting around the shrubs.  They were joined by a Blue Tit. As we commenced the walk towards the Botanical Gardens, we spotted a larger warbler at the base of a shrub.  It eventually flew to another shrub giving a brief view.  Barrie identified it as a Western Orphean Warbler.  Very nice!  

Dragonfly (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We reached the gardens.  A lot of Crossbills were flying around.  Richard had also seen a Crested Tit. A Coal Tit was seen.  Les stayed with Richard as the rest of us did the lower walk.  We saw a small flock of Long-tailed Tits before Jacky headed up the hill side to do the high walk.  She saw a Jay just after leaving us.  I managed to find a distant flock of about 50 Bee-eaters way over towards a hill's ridge.   The only other bird we saw was a Sardinian Warbler.
At the farm buildings, Barrie spotted an adult Booted Eagle as we got out of our vehicles. Les found a low flying Red Rumped Swallow amongst a few Barn Swallows. I scanned the distant horizon above the pine forest and spotted some Griffon Vultures. I think we saw about 20 in all plus another possible Booted Eagle.
At the farm water trough, there were about half a dozen Carrion Crows hanging around.  I checked out the rugged hillside over the road and found a brown bird on a pillar and another bird on some distant fencing.   Les zoomed in with his scope.  The brown bird was a Rock Sparrow & the perched one was a juvenile Woodchat Shrike.  I then spotted a Turtle Dove in one of the trees.  A juvenile apparently.  Barrie & Les combined to find a pair of Whinchats.  Another nice find!  Also saw a Crested Lark.

Juvenile Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Convoying down the plain, we saw an Iberian Grey Shrike, a posing Black-eared Wheatear and a Northern Wheatear.  Being in the lead car it's always disconcerting when the vehicles behind you all stop.  You've obviously missed something.  I arrived at the hamlet flushing about 6 Short-toed Larks. The others arrived saying a group of about 12 Short-toed Larks had shown themselves on the plain as I passed them.  All's well that ends well!  We only added a pair of distant Kestrels (assumed all Lesser Kestrels have well gone by now!)
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthehispanica (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We retraced our steps to the La Piza forest cafe to eat our lunch watching the tits and Crossbill feeding and drinking.  They were joined by Jays & chaffinches.  We didn't see the Nuthatch that had been feeding on bread most of the morning!  Jacky joined us.  She added Robin, Spotted Flycatcher and a probable female Black Redstart to the days list.
In total we saw 36 species, some good ones amongst them.  A great days birding in good company & weather!
Bush Cricket Tettigonia hispanica
(PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Remember I told you Barrie & Beryl were off to see Snow Leopards in Mongolia.  They had distant views of one and Barrie managed to see a closer one.  No chance of any photos though!  Also just to let you know Heather Murrell has moved back to the UK.  We wish her well and hope to see her back in Spain for a holiday sometime.
Regards
Dave

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