Thursday 19 September 2019

Sierra de Maria and Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 19 September

Back from my Georgian adventure and the thousand upon thousands of raptor to catch up with my local Spanish birding.  During my absence friend Dave Elliott-Binns has been out a couple of times with his Arboleas Birding Group, so apologies to Dave and his followers for the late publication of his reports.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 4th September

After what seemed to be a long & hot summer break, Gilly & I headed for the hills to cool down a bit. The Sierra de Maria was our destination. We passed through some mist, but as we approached the town the sun came out. As we waited for the others outside the Repsol garage cafe, we spotted Collared Dove, White Wagtail, House Sparrow, Magpie, House Martin and Serin. Unbeknown to me it appeared to be "Bring a friend to work day"! Michael & Karen brought (another) Michael. Adrian brought neighbour, Margaret and we later joined up with Jacky, who bought Ashton with her. Kevin came on his own. Having had our coffees we headed for the chapel. From the car park I scanned the mountain ridge and saw one flying Griffon Vulture and several resting ones. Gilly spotted two Ibex also on the ridge skyline. Looking over the cultivated area towards the toilet block, I found a Chaffinch and a very aggressive Pied Flycatcher. It chased off the Chaffinch and a White Wagtail. We moved round to near the trough. A cat was lurking in its shadow, so Jacky ushed it away. I spotted a Rock Bunting high up in the poplar tree. The Pied Flycatcher (or Flied Pie-catcher as Gilly called it!) flitted around the area. Kevin spotted a low level raptor. It soared over us...a Short Toed Eagle. He, together with Jacky, saw a Blackbird. Suddenly the sky was full of Bee Eaters. Probably about 75, making lots of noise. There were a few Barn Swallows migrating south with them. Kevin saw a Blue Tit and Jacky heard a Jay. 

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We made our way to the botanical garden. On the way I spotted a large plume of Griffon Vultures. Even higher above them were two Booted Eagles. A flight of Crossbill flew off as we arrived at the gardens. Gilly, Adrian & Margaret hung around there as the rest of us did the low walk. We saw a Coal Tit. Then Jacky spotted a smaller raptor. Once It had cleared the pine tree obstructing my view I could tell it was a Peregrine Falcon. I spotted a Spotted Flycatcher, Woodlark and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. As we were leaving I spotted a multitude of Red Billed Chough flying along the mountain ridge. There must have over 100.

Distant Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Leaving Jacky to do her strenuous exercise walk, the rest of us convoyed along to the Olde Resin factory or old farm buildings as we commonly called it. (Thank you, Kevin for the correct title). Gilly and I had seen a Mistle Thrush en route. There we saw a Carrion Crow. Adrian spotted a Stonechat.
We bypassed the farm water trough as the sheep & goats were in residence and headed out onto the plain. The only birds we saw were a few Northern Wheatear. At the hamlet the Lesser Kestrels had long departed so we were happy to see Northern Wheatear and a few Lesser Short Toed Larks.
Whilst having lunch we added Great Tit to the list. Also saw Blue & Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Pied Flycatcher and some very obliging fearless Jays! Jacky eventually caught us up. She added Long Tail Tit, Robin and a Kestrel to the days list.

Very shy Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
In total we had 33 species. A good days birding in good company.

Some parish notes..... Mary Taylor has moved back to the UK as have Tony & Kas Scott. We wish them all the best for the future. Paul & Reyna are heading to Norway for a few years as Paul has a new job! Best of luck....remember your wellies & macs! On the not so healthy list, we send our best wishes to Myrtle Green, Pat Hirons and Billy Kirkwood, Paul's stepdad. Regards, Dave

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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