Looks like Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group had a great day's birding and especially pleased to see a Carrion Crow recorded. Rarity for many of us.
Sierra de Maria - Wednesday 3rd May
Before the report, a notice for the Arboleas Birding Group. A note to pencil into your diary. Sunday 3rd December, 12.30 for 1pm. Xmas lunch at Casa Joya. As last year, Val Penny is organising it. She will be in touch closer to the date.
John kindly picked up Richard and I from the Overa hotel to chauffeur us to Maria. After we passed the service station outside Velez Blanco we commenced our list. By the time we'd reached Maria town we had 6 species in the bag including Pallid Swift, Wood Pigeon, Woodchat Shrike and Red Rumped Swallow. As we drank coffee outside the Repsol garage cafe we were watching House Martins nesting under the garage canopy. Over the fields were flocks of Barn and Red Rumped Swallows and Common Swifts.
As we were leaving we were joined by Les, a welcome addition. We drove up towards the chapel. We added Mistle Thrush and Les also saw another Woodchat Shrike. From the car park we saw our first Griffon Vulture flying over. During the day I expect we saw at least 15 in total. A Great Tit was heard and a Blue Tit sat high up one of the trees. A disappointing result around the trough. Richard had walked ahead of us and had managed to see some Long Tailed Tits. A female Stonechat showed well. By now we were being serenaded by a distant European Cuckoo. Leaving Richard and Les in the Botanical Garden, John and I did the lower walk. We first managed to see a group of Bonelli's Warblers. Just before we commenced the return loop we found some singing Melodious Warblers. On the way back we added Subalpine Warblers to the list. Meanwhile, Richard and Les had seen Chaffinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Greenfinch and a Pied Flycatcher. They also saw a Bonelli's Warbler. A frog showed well in the vegetable garden pool.
I now travelled with Les to keep him company on our way to the ruined farm buildings, seeing a Magpie on the way. As we were parking up, Les spotted a Rock Sparrow on a wall. A scan round revealed Serin, Crested Lark, Hoopoe, Corn Bunting and some Goldfinch.
|Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving to the water troughs, we were met by a Turtle Dove on the embankment. Our first of the year. Les then found another first, a Black Eared Wheatear on the roof of a distant building. Some Linnets, Rock Sparrows and a Cirl Bunting were attracted by the water. Some Bee-eaters flew over, heard, but never seen.
|Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove along the plain. I first spotted a Carrion Crow. There were a few Crested Larks by the roadside. Les spotted a bird perched on a rock. It turned out to be a Short-toed Lark. John and Richard in the car behind us also saw a Raven. At the hamlet a Red-billed Chough showed well. There was only one Lesser Kestrel seen, a male. We then headed back to the La Piza forest cafe for lunch, Les spotting a Northern Wheatear on the way.
|Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Richard had bought some seeds and mealworm to add to the food for the birds as we ate our meal. First to be attracted was a Blue Tit. Crossbills were drinking from a puddle on top of one of the covered outside games. We also saw Long-tailed Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Chaffinch and a Blackbird. Richard found a Jay. We were joined by an Iberian sub species Red Squirrel.
We ended up with 44 species. Weather was sunny with a bit of a breeze. A very enjoyable trip.
|Sun-bathing Frog (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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