Thursday 25 November 2021

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 24 November

Good to see that friend Dave Elliott-Binns back in the warmth and able to take his Arboleas Birding Group on their first birding visit of the winter.  Whilst I was enjoying 4C in the sun at Frampton Marsh on the The Wash back in the UK Dave was up the mountain trying to outdo me in the cold game at the Sierra de Maria and searching out the snow.  Not too sure on where I would prefer to be!  Anyway, welcome home Dave and you'll soon be far warmer than me.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 24th November

After seven weeks away in the UK it was good to return to my favourite birding location, the Sierra de Maria albeit a tad chilly at times!  Juda arrived at my house in good time and we headed north.  We didn't see any birds after we'd passed the bird list starting point outside Velez Blanco until we got to the Repsol garage cafe in Maria town.

You can imagine my surprise when this man pulled down his mask to reveal a smiling Les!  He's been in the UK for about two years having suffered a series of heart attacks.  He looked like the old Les! Equally surprised were Trevor, Michael, Karen, Richard & Mike who joined us for a coffee.
Due to the cold temperatures I decided we'd "do" the loop.  There was a scattering of snow on the mountain ridge and in the shaded areas beside the road.  We convoyed towards the village and only began to see any birdlife after we'd left the pine forest and were surrounded by ploughed fields.  We saw medium sized flocks of Goldfinch, Linnet and Rock Sparrow.  There were a smaller numbers of Greenfinch and Corn Bunting plus singles of Stonechat and Thekla Lark.  I stopped and check out some corvids. Carrion Crows or so I thought.  Michael had also found a single Red-billed Chough with them. We stopped for a chat by the village.  Les added Crested Lark, Mistle Thrush and Woodpigeon to the list.

Hoopoe Upupa epops

We carried on. As leading vehicle I had a good view of an obliging Hoopoe and a Red Legged Partridge.  I missed the Common Buzzard that Richard & Trevor saw.  We saw another pair of Red-billed Chough.  As we approached the cliff face an Iberian Green Woodpecker flew into a distant tree, later seen by some others flying off.  Some of us walked to the far end of the cliff face.  We were rewarded with views of a pair of Black Wheatear and a Little Owl.  Les spotted a Magpie.  A single Griffon Vulture was seen. 

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa

We carried on seeing Collared Dove, Iberian Grey Shrike and more Magpies, Kestrel, Stonechat and flocks of finches.  Les had a White Wagtail.  Heading towards the hamlet we added a pair of Ravens. Karen also saw a Robin.

We stopped at the hamlet but didn't see anything.  And nothing on the plain apart from more distant Griffon Vultures.

La Piza forest cafe here we come!  Some Crossbill were drinking from a puddle as we parked up.  We sat outside for our lunch and watched GreatTits, Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Crested Tits using the nut feeders.  Also seen were Chaffinch and a Robin.  On the way back to Maria town there was a plume of about 10 Griffons to the north.

Crossbill Loxia curvirostra

We ended with a respectable 31 species, not bad considering the cold weather.  It was great to be out and about in good company.


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