Friday 2 June 2017

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Friday 2 June

Just back with jenny from two cracking days birding up in the La Mancha region centred on Damiel and find a lovely report from my friend Dave following the visit to the Sierra de Maria with his Arboleas Birding Group.  It look s like I was not the only one having a great birding experience.  My report will hopefully follow later today but hoping when I check out the photos I might a few good shots of a range of exciting birds, including a first in Spain for me.  Strange how you do not see a specific birds for months on end and then we all seem to see them at the same time, in this case the Green Woodpecker.  Now I wonder what sub-species it might have been?

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 31st May

There were a total of 15 members of the Arboleas Birding Group who met up in the Garage cafe in Maria for a coffee before commencing our birdwatching.  On the way there, John and I, being kindly chauffeured by Richard had managed to clock up 11 species, including Crag Martin, Red Rumped Swallow, Southern Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting and Crested Lark.  Others had seen Bee Eater, Magpie and Mistle Thrush.  As we sat outside having the refreshments, House Martins were busy to-​ and- fro-ing from nests under the forecourt canopy.  A Pallid Swift seemed intent on joining them.  I could hear Rock Sparrows nearby.  Common Swifts were flying above us.

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We convoyed up to the chapel.  Barrie had found a Melodious Warbler.  A distant European Cuckoo could be heard.  A Chaffinch was also seen.  I think I was possibly the first to spot a high flying Griffon Vulture.  A number of Barn Swallow flew by.  We heard both Raven and the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker.  Les found a Linnet on the market garden area and a Blue Tit was seen.  The area around the water trough was disappointing.  We walked up towards the Botanical Garden.  A Melodious Warbler showed very well.  In the gardens, Les spotted a Cirl Bunting atop a small structure. 

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Goldfinch and Great Tits were seen before the group split into two, some staying in the gardens.  The rest of us did the lower walk.  Birds were few and far between but we did see Bonelli's, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers plus Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay and Crested Tit.  The Raven showed itself and more Griffons flew over.  The garden watchers also saw Rock Bunting and Coal Tit.  Being fitter than us, Jacky decided she'd do the high walk, meeting us later for lunch.  She added a family of Stonechat, Red Legged Partridge and heard Robins.
On the way to the next stop, the farm buildings, us in the front car and Barrie and Beryl behind us got a glimpse of a Booted Eagle just above the pine trees.  From the buildings area we saw Barn and Red Rumped Swallow, Corn Bunting, Rock Sparrow and Serin.  I spotted a fast flying Turtle Dove going through the far pine trees.  A possible pure Rock Dove perched opposite us.

A pure Rock Dove Columbra Livia (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)?
Moving on to the water trough area, we disturbed a Green Woodpecker as we arrived.  Les was first to see a pair of Turtle Dove.  Sandra found a Hoopoe and Richard thought he saw a Red-billed Chough.  Sandra, on a roll, then found a male Northern Wheatear atop a road sign with the female nearby on a crash barrier.  Corn Bunting, a Thekla Lark and Rock Sparrows were also seen.

Male Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
On the journey across the plain, we saw Crested Lark and another Northern Wheatear.  I saw a small lark land just beside the car, but it flew off before I could get the binoculars on it.  Luckily, Barrie, driving behind us saw it was a Short-toed Lark.  Stopping to check the rocky areas for Little Owls (failed) we did find a sitting male Lesser Kestrel.  More were seen at the hamlet, at least one pair nesting under the old roof tiles of a barn.
We adjourned to the La Piza forest cafe for lunch, usually a good birding area.  However, we only saw a few Crossbill.
We ended up with 50 species for the day. Weather and company good.
Regards, Dave
Sounds like a great day Dave and what a smashing turn out. 

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