Wednesday 9 September 2020

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Male Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

 Wednesday 9 September

Once again Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group seem to have had a marvellous day's birding with lots of small birds and particularly like the idea that they managed both Whinchat and Crossbill.  Like me down at La Janda on Monday there seem to be lots of Willow Warblers passing through at the moment.  And, yes, good to read that there are still Bee-eaters and Lesser Kestrels to be seen, even if both will surely be departed by the end of the month if not before.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 9th September

Yes, heading back to the Sierra de Maria for another visit.  Picked up Juda and Rob and made our way via Oria to Velez Blanco.  En route to Maria town I spotted a male Common Redstart and an immature Woodchat Shrike on the roadside power lines.  In town whilst having a coffee we added House Martin, Spotless Starling and House Sparrow.  There were 13 of us when we eventually got to the chapel car park.  A scan of the mountain ridge revealed at least 3 Griffon Vultures resting there.  John had already seen Red-rumped Swallows on the journey, but we were glad to see 6 more perched on a leafless branch.  Both Jay and Iberian Green Woodpecker were heard.  Moving over to the trough area, was sad to see the puddle by the overflow pool was dry.  There was constant traffic using the water trough.  We managed to see Rock Bunting, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Robin and Serin using the facilities. John saw a Willow Warbler and some others spotted a Chiffchaff high up in the tree.  Three Booted Eagles flew by followed by a Kestrel.

We then started to walk up towards the Botanical gardens.  Steve spotted a Stonechat and some Woodpigeons were seen.  In the gardens a Coal Tit and a Pied Flycatcher were attracted by the small water pools.  Griffon Vultures were drifting past overhead.  We first heard then saw a flock of 30+ Bee Eaters migrating south.  We headed back to the vehicles.  Rob heard some Long-tailed Tits.
As we left the car park, a Hoopoe flew past.  On the road to the loop junction a Jay flew across us.  We started the loop and as before didn't see a lot.  I noticed a small plume of Griffons to my left.  Rob said, "What's this to the right?"  A male Hen Harrier flying low and slow till it disappeared over a slight rise. Wow!

Very high Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We stopped for everyone to catch up just before the village.  John at the rear of the convoy missed the harrier.  It was small consolation that he and Trevor had added a Carrion Crow.  A juvenile Woodchat Shrike posed well.  Some Collared Doves were in the village.  We moved off along the track.  I saw a small flock of Linnet, followed by a couple of Northern Wheatear.  I then saw a bird thistle hopping along the roadside verge.  A Whinchat.  The whole group managed to see it.  Also seen were a Thekla Lark and Magpies.

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We stopped at the cliff face.  Nothing this side so we walked to the far side.  A  Little Owl was flushed and headed eventually over the top.  Trevor had spotted an Iberian Grey Shrike.  We heard some Red-billed Chough, but they never made an appearance.  Carrying on, near the airstrip, Rob spotted some high flying birds.  Couldn't believe that Lesser Kestrels were still around.  Three high above us.  We later saw more.  Thought they'd already left for southerly climes!  Us in the lead car saw a Black-eared Wheatear.

We reached the hamlet and hoped for a better score than the big fat zero John and I got last time!  At first it didn't look good, but John, I think, found a bird standing on the rough ground.  A Tawny Pipit.
We moved on to the farm trough.  A flock of Rock Sparrows flew off and didn't return as the goat farmer's wife drove up to collect some water. 

It being passed lunchtime we went directly to the La Piza forest cafe.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew off.  We enjoyed our lunch watching Crossbills, Jays, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits eating the bread or drinking the water.

Mr & Mrs Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Even without our taliswoman from last week, we had some great birds.  Good company.
I'm sure the Group would join me wishing the following members our continuing best wishes.
Les and Lynn, Richard and Pat, Val and Rob.

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

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