Thursday, 15 February 2018

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 15 February

Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have een out and again this week, that's twice in two days!  me too, as I shall also be out for the next four days as I enjoy Bonanza, Donana and the Odiel with friends.

Sierra de Maria  -  Thursday 15th February

We were lucky enough to have an extra trip this week as Lily wanted to show her friend, Maria, the Sierra de Maria! Gilly & I picked them up at the Overa hotel, Jct 547 E15/A7 and headed for Maria town.  There, after a coffee at the garage, we met up with Brian & Mary at the chapel.  The weather was fine & sunny. We saw Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Blackbird in and around the tall poplar trees.  I spotted a female Blue Rock Thrush flying away. Moving up towards the Botanical Gardens we found a flock of Serin and I spotted a Cirl Bunting.  At the Information Centre, the female ranger advised us many schoolchildren were due at around midday.  It was now hot so Gilly & I shed our anoraks.  In the lower gardens we saw 2-3 Short Toed Treecreepers, but not a lot else. 

Can you spot the Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We heard Crested Tit & Jay.  There were patches of snow covering the lower path, but was not dangerous with care.  It was our intention to do the middle path, but with extra altitude there would be more snow and also time was running out before the vociferous hoard was due to arrive!   We added Coal Tit & Brian found a Stonechat.  We left the gardens as two coaches arrived at the chapel car park. Just then we spotted some Griffon Vultures above the mountain ridge.  Eventually about 15 were in a plume.  We walked back to the cars as 50 odd loud kids headed up the hill.
Sunny, but snow under foot (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
On the trip down to the farm buildings a Raven flew over the road.  At the buildings we had Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Goldfinch and a few Crossbill.  I spotted a Mistle Thrush on the ploughed field. Moving on to the water trough, we parked up, using the car as a hide. Saw Black Redstart & Northern Wheatear as we arrived.  Had good views of Linnet, Serin and one or two Crossbill drinking.  Driving along the plain we had more Linnet & Crested Lark. We found a Corn Bunting plus a Little Owl on rock piles.  At the hamlet we added Rock Dove & Sparrow.  There were two Little Owls on the way back plus a Kestrel.
Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then had lunch at the La Piza forest cafe. Kindly the staff advised us of the impending arrival of the kids!  We saw Chaffinch & Crossbill there as well as a Mistle Thrush drinking from the fuente. We left as 4 coaches arrived!
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 28 species. Weather was wonderful. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.
Regards, Dave
Male Linnet Carduelis cannabina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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