Wednesday 29 September 2021

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Tuesday 28 September

The latest Arboleas Birding Group visit to the Sierra de Maria looked like a good send off for Dave before his stats his visit to Covid-infected Britain so trust he gets back safely.  Same goes for Jenny and I when we return at the end of October for a couple of months so, like Dave, a change of birding venues and, hopefully, some new species.

Sierra de Maria   -   Tuesday 28th September

Yes, a Tuesday this week as I have to take Dave Green to a hospital appointment following his recent knee operation.  Juda arrived early at my house and we drove to the Overa hotel where Paul, Kath and Nevill tagged along behind us for the trip to the Sierra de Maria.  There, at the Repsol garage cafe, we met up with Trevor, Jacky, who hadn't been out with us since the beginning of Covid and her brother, Dave, and sister in laws, April.  We also welcomed back after a similar period, Barrie and Jan.  After coffee we headed to the chapel.  Once parked up a scan skywards revealed numerous House Martins and the odd Barn Swallow.  I spotted a Griffon Vulture disappearing over the mountain ridge.  Paul added a Jay. 

Juvenile Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Also seen were House Sparrows.  Jacky picked up the call of a Great Tit.  There was nothing around the water trough so we trundled up the hill towards the Botanical Gardens.  A flash of red tail revealed a Black Redstart.  Jacky saw a flight of small birds, some of which landed on top of a pine tree.  Crossbills.  The bright red male posed well at a distance.

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

As we entered the gardens a female Sparrowhawk lazily flew over.  Barrie, Kath and Juda had a seat as the rest of us did the lower walk.  A plume of Griffon Vultures circled above us.  We had fleeting glimpses of a pair of Dartford Warblers.  We heard Robin, Chaffinch and Blackbird.  As we returned to the gardens I spotted a Crested Tit followed by a Coal Tit.  Barrie had seen a Crag Martin.  As we were leaving I heard a Raven's call, but Barrie was lucky enough to see a pair as he looked at some Griffons. Down the road we saw some Spotless Starlings. Jacky, Dave and April stayed at the gardens to do the medium walk.

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We stopped next at the farm buildings.  Apart from a few passing Barn Swallows, Juda found a White Wagtail.  Our stop at the water troughs added Carrion Crows, Rock Sparrows and Thekla Larks.
We then convoyed along the plains.  I stopped to observe a Northern Wheatear to my left, missing the Little Owl to my right!  More Northern Wheatears and Thekla Larks were seen.  Nothing new at the hamlet.  Headed back towards the La Piza forest cafe.  The Little Owl had gone!

The "behind you" Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We had our lunch watching Great, Crested and Blue Tits feeding off the nuts.  Crossbills came down for the water and Chaffinches for the bread.  The young Jay posed well again as did an Iberian Red Squirrel.  We were joined by Jacky and crew.  They added Serin and Chiffchaff and were lucky enough to see the Sparrowhawk plucking it's lunch!

Iberian Red Squirel Sciurus vulgaris
- the original "tree hugger" (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

What a great day with the birding, company and weather.  We ended with 28 species.  Thank you to Kath for being my secretary.  Wishing Dave Green a speedy recovery with his knee.  Happy 80th birthday to Barrie for next week.

I'm now away to the UK for 7 weeks so we'll be back in late November. Good birding in the meantime.

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