Friday 21 January 2022

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Friday 23 January

Please to read that Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group had an enjoyable day up in the mountains even if somewhat on the cold side.  Numbers may have been lower than expected but always good to have quality over quantity!  Still very cold on the coast at night and even colder inland, says he who has just driven up to Valencia via Granada, Jaen and the A43 to the A3 the onwards to Lliria to stay with son and daughter-in-law for the week-end.  It may have been zero centigrade for much of the way and n never above 5 until on the southern drive down the A3 but at least I am now back online and can update Dave's report from last Wednesday

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 19th January 2022

Well, they said it would be cold today, so why not head to the Sierra de Maria where it would be 5 degrees even colder!

    Juda turned up at mine dressed for the Arctic. We headed north on the A7/E15 and then west towards Velez Rubio. We started our list, as usual, just outside Velez Blanco. We didn't disturb the scorer until virtually at Maria when we saw two Iberian Green Woodpeckers fly across the road in front of us. We met up with Peter, Kevin, Trevor, Carolyn and Steve at the Repsol garage cafe. Once refreshed, in the interests of keeping warm, I decided we'd do the loop road, thereby staying in our warm vehicles. Birds were very few and far between. Before we reached the village turn off we'd only seen Magpie, small flocks of Northern Starlings, a pair of Jays and some Goldfinch.

    We stopped for a scan by the village. I spotted some glossy black Spotless Starlings on an aerial. Kevin confirmed a sighting of distant perched Linnets through his scope. Juda added some Woodpigeon. We carried on along the track. Juda and I saw Carrion Crow and a couple of Red-billed Chough. We missed the close, posing Little Owl that Carolyn and Steve spotted.  Also seen were small flocks of Chaffinch and Corn Bunting.

Sunbathing Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

     We parked up by the cliff face. Nothing was added till we walked to the other side. A Black Wheatear showed well and a covey of Red-legged Partridge flew over the ridge. Carrying on we added a Stonechat, spotted by Juda, a lone Kestrel and a female Black Redstart. At the hamlet House Sparrows and Thekla Larks were seen. As we were there a car stopped. Mike and Kathy, blasts from the past. They met us many, many years ago and I still send them my reports. Travelling along the plain we saw three Little Owls sunning themselves. The stop at the farm trough only added a couple of Mistle Thrush.

    We headed for the La Piza forest cafe for a snack lunch. We sat there in silence ( bird song) for some time before a force of titmice arrived for a nut lunch. We had, in chronological order, Crested, Blue, Long Tailed and Great Tits. The sun was in the wrong place for any photos unfortunately. A call above us alerted us to the arrival of a few Crossbill. Juda then spotted our first Griffon Vultures of the day as three flew over.

Crossbill Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

    After lunch we went to the Botanical Garden. With the permission of the boss for the day we put up a memorial plaque for Adrian Speakman who passed suddenly last July. Five Griffon Vultures were sitting along the mountain ridge above us.

    We ended up with 27 species for the day. Bright and sunny, but, boy, was it chilly!

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