Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

19 February 2020

Good to see that Dave is back in the birding saddle once again and out and about with his Arboleas Birding Group.  Looks very much as if it was all worthwhile, especially the sighting of two golden Eagle and the Green Woodpecker.

Sierra de Maria: Wednesday 19th February

I was absent last week as I had to take Gilly to the dentist.  Thankfully her treatment appears to be completed.  Last Monday I stupidly slipped down our stairs, spraining my right ankle and suffered various bruises.  Luckily nothing broken apart from the mug I was carrying in one hand and the full mop bucket in the other! 

So today I decided to lead the group to the Sierra de Maria.  The forecast wasn't particularly good, predicting grey skies and a possibility of rain.  Are we good weather birders?  On the journey I passed through fog ( low cloud ) and light showers, but by the time I got to Maria town the precipitation had stopped, but still cloudy.  I'd only espied a White Wagtail and a House Sparrow en route. I was joined by Peter, Alec, John, Alan, Iain, Trevor, Adrian, Michael and Karen.  It was especially nice to see Roger and Angela again.  After a refreshing coffee I lead the convoy of cars round the loop.  Before turning right towards La Canada de Canepla, I spotted Goldfinch and Chaffinch.  En route to the village (13km) we'd also seen Carrion Crow, Corn Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Magpie and  Kestrel.  I stopped having just turned left before the village for everybody to catch up.  A pair of Mallard flew over.  

Vociferous Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
There were more Corn Buntings to be seen and heard.  John and co spotted a Moorhen, Crested Lark, and both Spotless and Northern Starling.  Alan saw a little group of birds by a small building and some rocks.  A pair of Stonechat and a Black Redstart.  Some Linnets were also seen.  We carried on. I spotted a Hoopoe in a tree, followed a short time later by another on a rock.  Next, by some farm buildings, I spotted a small flock of Jackdaw.  After seeing a pair of Red-legged Partridge I saw a large raptor above a small hill.  A Golden Eagle.  Luckily everybody caught up before it flew off.  Carrying on, my next find was a Dartford Warbler.  I landed in a bush to the right. 

Female Stonechat Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Eventually everybody managed to see it albeit some only fleetingly.  A first for Iain!  John then spotted a flying Raven.  Moving on to the cliff face, I flushed an Iberian Green Woodpecker before the others arrived, but it yaffled occasionally to confirm my sighting. John then found some soaring Griffon Vultures, 12 in all.  (The sun was now shining!) The usual Rock Doves were present.  Alan spotted a head showing on top of the cliff.  A Blue Rock Thrush.  Moving to the far side of the cliff, Trevor and I saw a Green Sandpiper fly off from a shallow flood pool.  On top of the cliff was a pair of Black Wheatear.  Another Golden Eagle appeared, doing a display flight.

Hoopoe Upupa epops (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
I then lead the convoy towards the hamlet, seeing an Iberian Grey Shrike on the way.  John and co added a Thekla Lark and Woodpigeon.  The hamlet proved disappointing. There was a large flock of White Wagtails and some Meadow Pipits.  The troughs had a similar result with some Linnets.

It was now time for lunch so we headed to the La Piza forest cafe.  As I parked up there was a Great Tit and a Crested Tit in the tree next to me.  We heard a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker.  As we ate our lunch we saw Crossbill, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch and a Robin visiting the feeding area.

I then headed home.  Most of the others went on to the Botanical Gardens.  They manged to see a Peregrine Falcon and some Red-billed Choughs.  Huh...not jealous at all!
We ended up with 46 species.  It was a great day considering the dismal forecast.  Great birding, great company!

A couple of notices.  Hope Val and Tony's bee stings heal soon.  Best wishes to Pat, Richard's wife, who had a eye operation on Monday.
Regards. Dave

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