Thursday 12 December 2019

Sierra Madre with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 12 December

A lovely couple of days birding.  First we have Dave's report of his Arboleas Birding Group's visit to the Sierra Madre whilst I was exploring Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar and then, this morning, Dave joined me for an early coffee at my hotel before we spent over five most enjoyable hours birding at Cabo de Gata.  And looking at Dave's report, his group managed to find two species that I somehow seem to have missed this year.

Sierra de Maria - Wednesday 11th December

After last weeks postponement due the dire weather forecast, Richard & I headed to the Sierra de Maria. The weather was lovely and sunny with a breeze forecast for later in the day. En route to Maria town we managed to spot House Sparrow, Magpie, Black Redstart, Chaffinch and White Wagtail. We were joined by Claire, Adrian and then Trevor, Alan, John and Les. The latter had seen a Griffon Vulture as they passed Velez Blanco.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After a refreshing cup of coffee, we decided to do the loop first via La Canada de Canepla.  I led the convoy in Richard's car. Behind us was Adrian and Claire followed by the others in Trevor's car.  We only saw Crested Lark, Greenfinch and Magpie.  Those at the back did better with Red-billed Chough, Raven, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Corn Bunting and Kestrel.  A kilometre prior to the village a Spanish registered car stopped behind us and then drove off as speed leaving a very distraught terrier type dog in the road.  Every time I looked in my mirror it was running after us.  We stopped on the track by the village.  We saw more Corn Buntings and some Goldfinch.  We stopped further along the road, seeing a Black Wheatear on a ruin, a flying Iberian Green Woodpecker and some running Red-legged Partridge and some Carrion Crow and a Hoopoe.  As we stopped by the cliff face I spotted a Dartford Warbler.  There was a Rock Dove high up on the face.  Les spotted a distant Iberian Grey Shrike.  The dog was still with us.  Richard, bless him, said he'd take him home. Such a lovely good tempered dog.  How can people be so cruel?  Responds to English commands.  A walk beyond the cliff face produced further Dartford Warblers and a 60+ flock of Red-billed Chough.

The abandoned young dog (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then made our way towards the hamlet.  Again us at the front saw little, but those in Trevor's car added Peregrine Falcon and Calandra Lark.  A scan round the hamlet area produced Rock Sparrow, Meadow Pipit and Skylark.  Further down the road we saw at least three Little Owls. 

We next stopped at the farm water trough.  There were plenty of Rock Sparrows around.  Les then spotted some Mistle Thrushes.  He and Alan both thought they'd seen a Fieldfare.  Sure enough they found some in the telescope, a first in Spain for me!

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving on to the old farm buildings, Trevor found a Chiffchaff and a Serin.  We drove on to the La Piza forest cafe where we had lunch.  Les was the main spotter.  He found Long-tailed, Crested, Blue and Great Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers and Crossbill.  A Jay was also seen.  Trevor spotted a pair of overflying Griffon Vultures.

After a lovely lunch, Richard and I plus Adrian and Claire headed home whilst Trevor and the boys went to the Botanical Gardens.  They only added a Blackbird to the list.

In total we saw 43 species, the Fieldfares being the stars.  Great day, great company!
Regards, Dave

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