Thursday 7 September 2017

Can't see man or cow but could be made of cheese!
Thursday 7 September

A sort of "back with a vengeance" or "double header" as Dave was back out again today after his exploits with the Arboleas Birding Group down at Cabo de Gata with it now being the turn of the mountains of the Sierra de maria.  Lots of good birds as can be seen in Dave's report so hoping it all bodes well for my week-end down at Tarifa, the "Malaga Bird Tour" on Wednesday and finally the sierras of Cordoba next week-end.

Sierra de Maria   -   Thursday 7th September

As I left my house this morning, with the full moon showing beautifully, I could hear Bee-eaters migrating way above me.  Today I'm off to the Sierra de Maria with David and Myrtle.  Leaving my truck at their house, David drove us towards Maria.  As we passed Velez Blanco there were 4 Bee Eaters resting on the power lines.  As we entered Maria we added House Martin, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and Collared Dove.  After a reviving cup of coffee at the garage cafe, we headed to the chapel area.  We didn't see anything on the way up, but I spotted some Red-rumped Swallows from the car park. We walked over to the water trough.  There was a plethora of small birds waiting to "take the waters" using a bush to its right as a staging area.  There was a family of Subalpine Warblers, some Chiffchaff and some Chaffinch.  There was a brief appearance by a gorgeous male Common Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher.  The star however was a Western Orphean Warbler.  Also seen were Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Goldfinch.  A pair of Collared Dove posed well.
Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Myrtle and I walked up towards the Information Centre whilst David went back to the car, driving up there.  Myrtle and I added Barn Swallow and Crossbill flying over.  The micro ponds in the botanical garden were busy quenching the thirst of many birds.  A group of Long-tailed Tits hogged the limelight with a Crested Tit sneaking in.  Serin and more Crossbill visited as well. 
Crested Tit Parus cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
A walk round the lower walk didn't add anything to the list, but above us a total of probably 70 odd Bee-eaters flew noisily over.  We got back to the car and headed towards the plain.  Even before we had got to the La Piza junction we came across a serious accident.  An articulated lorry was on its side completely blocking the road.  The Guardia Civil and Traffic Maintenance crews were already there.  By pure chance, there was a dirt track adjacent to the road by which we could pass.  Once back on the road we spotted some Griffon Vultures flying overhead.  At the farm buildings I spotted a distant Hoopoe flying.  On the tree above the water deposit were 6 Crossbill waiting to drink.  A Carrion Crow was perched on top of a large bush.  I then amazed myself by identifying the call of a Booted Eagle before seeing it flying overhead.  We carried on down to the farm water trough, seeing a Jay on the way.  We only had a Crested Lark there.  The plain produced nothing till near the hamlet when we disturbed a roadside Northern Wheatear.  At the hamlet, the field beside the mounds of wheat refuse attracted a small number of Lesser Short-toed Larks.

Male Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We adjourned to the La Piza forest cafe where we watched Crossbill and Chaffinch coming for a drink in the man-made little pool as we ate our snack lunch.  We ended up with 28 species in all which wasn't too bad.  Good weather, birding ad company.  By the time we got back to the accident site the large recovery vehicles were in attendance.  Hopefully the driver was not physically injured!
Why not capture the posing Collared Doves Streptopelia decaocto? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
  Quite an adventure dave; what will you roduce for me next week?
Quite a mess; just hope he wasn't transported fresh eggs (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns) 

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