Great to read about Phil and Sue's Spotted Crake plus all the good birds during this week's visit. Like me, I suspect that Dave and company are still waiting for their first Sand Martin of the year but good to read that he first Lesser Kestrel has now been spotted.
Sierra de Maria - Wednesday 11th March
Before I give you today's report, the big news came from Phil and Sue on Monday when they were birding at the Rambla de Almanzora. There they saw and photographed a Spotted Crake! Well done them.
Back to today.....I headed off alone to the Sierra de Maria, seeing the usual suspects on the way to our meeting point in Maria......House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove. Richard and co had seen Crested Lark, Carrion Crow and Spotless Starling. There were 13 of us in all. Good to see Val back after her double dose of facial bee stings! We decided to do the loop first. I headed the convoy, taking Steve with me. We saw both Jay and Mistle Thrush as we drove through the pine forest. Once on the plain heading towards the village we added Magpie, Jackdaw, many Corn Buntings and Crested Larks, a displaying Calandra Lark, an obliging Kestrel and a few Thekla Larks. Richard spotted some Goldfinches. Alan identified a Skylark and Val some Red-billed Chough.
We stopped just before the village for a catch up. We saw a White Wagtail. There were many Corn Buntings calling. John spotted three Barn Swallows. Moving further along, I added a Stonechat and a Hoopoe. Approaching the cliff face we spotted a pair of Rock Sparrows. A Red-legged Partridge crossed the road in front of us. At the cliff there must have been at least a dozen Rock Sparrows flitting about. Alan and co had seen a pair of Iberian Green Woodpeckers and a Raven en route. The resident Rock Doves and Black Wheatears were seen. As we moved off Richard, Diane and Mike in the car behind us saw a Sparrowhawk. As we approached the cavehouse village we began to see the odd low flying Griffon Vulture. One obligingly perched on an electricity pylon and got mobbed by a Carrion Crow for his troubles. En route to the hamlet I added Linnet to the list.
At the hamlet Diane found some loitering Red-billed Chough. They've bred in the barns on previous years. Richard spotted what we think were our first Lesser Kestrels of the year. We then headed along the plain. I saw a Short-toed Lark species but was unable to confirm whether it was a Lesser or Greater! At the water troughs we saw Crested Larks, Linnets and White Wagtails. John added a Serin en route to the La Piza forest cafe.
I replenished the nut feeders and soon we saw Great, Blue and Coal Tits feeding. Also seen were Crossbill, Chaffinch and Robin. After lunch I, plus Richard, Mike and Diane headed home, but the others went to the botanical garden. They added Long-tailed Tit to the list.
We had a total of 40 species. Weather was hot and sunny. Thank you for all attending making it a lovely day.
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