Wednesday 18 May 2022

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 18 May

Great day's outing by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group with lots of wonderful sightings.  Just hope I do half as well with a visit to the local Rio Velez in Torre del Mar tomorrow morning with my friend Bryan.  Particularly liked the sighting of Roller and Lesser Kestrel.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 18th May

I was travelling on my own today, so to save on fuel I ditched the truck and used the Vauxhall Insignia. More comfortable and has a working air conditioning!  I headed north on the A7/E15 and veered off towards Granada.  Passing Velez Blanco, I commenced the list.  By the time I'd reached Maria town I'd seen Common Swift, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling and Woodpigeon.  Sitting beside the Repsol garage having a cup of coffee I observed numerous House Martins nesting under their canopy as well as more Common Swifts chasing each other.  I was joined by Trevor, Frans and Marga, Ab and Jenni and Barrie and Beryl.  Barrie had seen a Griffon Vulture near Velez Blanco. 

Having finished our refreshments we headed up to the chapel, seeing a Magpie en route.  Once parked up, a scan of the mountain ridge revealed three Griffon Vultures.  We heard then saw a Rock Sparrow. We could also hear a vociferous Nightingale from across the smallholding.  A Blackbird flew past.  A Great Tit was also seen.  There was nothing near the water trough, mind you, there was a stiff breeze which could keep the smaller birds in cover.  We strolled up the slope towards the Botanical Garden. Barrie, who's hot on bird song, identified a Woodlark.  Not a lot in the gardens so we started off along the lower walk, leaving Marga by "Adrian's" bench.  Barrie spotted a Blue Tit.  We all heard 2 or 3 Golden Orioles.  A small flight of Crossbill flew over.  Barrie audio identified a Spectacled Warbler flying past.  Getting back to Marga to discover she'd actually seen a Golden Oriole.  Not to be outdone, a male then flew over.  On the way down the slope Trevor spotted a Rock Bunting.

We drove along to the old farm house.  Barrie heard a Corn Bunting.  Trevor saw a Hoopoe as did Frans a bit later.  There were a few Barn Swallows flying around.  In my search for the elusive Corn Bunting, I found a distant Woodchat Shrike.  Also seen were White Wagtail and Goldfinch.

We drove to the farm water trough and only added Collared Dove and a male Northern Wheatear but I did see a plume of 20 or so Griffon Vultures over to the right whilst driving there.  We saw more Northern Wheatears as we convoyed along the plain.  We also had Thekla and Calandra Lark, Linnet and Carrion Crow.  We were unhappy that the annual Lesser Kestrel colony at the hamlet had not formed this year.  We did see more Rock Sparrows.  We headed back towards the La Piza forest cafe, Barrie seeing two Short-toed Larks en route.  Some grockles (tourists) were picnicking near the bird feeders so we only saw one Blue Tit.  Trevor and I then headed home and the others, with Barrie in command, were going to do the loop.  This is what they saw :-

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe olenanthe (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After lunch myself, Beryl, Franz, Marga, Ab and Jenny decided to do the loop.  Apart from the ever present Crested Larks and the odd Corn Bunting nothing was noted until we started the track from Canadas de Canepla.  We were serenaded all the way along the track by a succession of Corn Buntings. Only a few hundred yards along the track was the first of 6 Black-eared Wheatears followed quite quickly by some Rock Sparrows.  Within a few minutes we managed to see a female Lesser Kestrel in flight by a Roller which was perched on the fence line and we managed to creep to within about 10 yards of the bird so all had excellent views.  A Magpie was noted between the Roller sighting and the pen where we stopped for a good look around.  The only bird of note was a Black-eared Wheatear which all managed to see as the first one was just a fly by.  A little further on was a Bee-eater flying over the field to the right and a Nightingale singing from the barranco.  Some Linnets were also noted. As we reached the cliffs 2 Red-legged Partridge were in the road but didn’t stay long.  As we reached the end of the cliffs a falcon was spotted which turned out to be a Hobby.  The final birds were 2 Griffon Vultures and 2 Red -billed Chough over the village of Fuente Nueva.

Well, Trevor and I missed some good sightings!  A combined total of 40 birds by my reckoning.  A great day in good company!

 Great report Dave and will we ever know what Barrie and pals happened to see after your departure? !!!!!

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