Wednesday 7 September 2022

Sierra de Marie with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 7 September 

Summer must be over as I see Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group are once more on the road; and at least the fuel cost has come down since the summer peak when no visits were taking place!  Some good birding to start the season and sorry to read about the death of Rod Prout, a lovely man who I had the privilege to meet on a few occasions, usually associated with my time at the Andalucia Bird Society.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 7th September

Apparently summer was supposed to have finished, but as I drove Richard in his new car, together with Juda, up the A7/E15 towards Maria the temperature was well into the 30c's.  Having passed Velez Blanco the new season's birding began.  Before we reached Maria we'd only logged Collared Dove and House Sparrow.  An auspicious start...Not!  As we had a coffee outside the Repsol Garage cafe we were joined by Trevor, Michael, Karen, Kevin, Frans and Marga.  A Barn Swallow flew passed.  We decided we'd do the loop, so I led the way with the others following behind.  As we made our way to the junction I spotted three Griffon Vultures circling quite low, but was unable to stop.  We headed through the pine forest and onto the arid fields.  We only added Thekla Lark and Carrion Crow.  We stopped at the usual place just by the village.  We saw more Carrion Crows and a flock of Spotless Starlings. Kevin heard a Bee Eater.  Carrying on, we began to see numerous Northern Wheatears, followed by large flocks of Woodpigeon.  We added two Magpies, three Hoopoes, some Bee Eaters, a couple of Corn Buntings and a flock of mixed Goldfinch and Serin.  A covey of Red-legged Partridge was sent running into cover. 

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

At this point I looked in the rear view mirror and realised we were on our own. Either there had been a breakdown, an accident or, God forbid, they'd seen a good bird which we'd missed!  We waited at the cliff face.  Yes, unfortunately it was the third option.  They'd seen three Short-toed Eagles!

We had a wander along the road.  Richard added a Blackbird and a Stock Dove.  Trevor spotted a male Stonechat on a distant bush.  As we got back to our vehicles Karen spotted a low flying raptor.  It was a 2nd year male Marsh Harrier.

We headed for the hamlet. We saw more Carrion Crows. A Short-toed Lark species flew by.  Richard saw a Zitting Cisticola.  As we got to the hamlet I spotted a Little Owl perched on a building's buttress. I also spotted a pair of distant Kestrels circling.  Assumed they were common due to the time of the year.  Kevin added a White Wagtail.

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

Being hungry we drove in a leisurely manner to the La Piza forest cafe.  There were two or three Jays around.  The feeders supplied nuts to Great and Blue Tits.  Kevin added a Chaffinch.  A couple of Crossbill came for a drink.  An Iberian Red Squirrel also visited the shallow pool.

Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

On our way back to Maria town I spotted a 30 strong flume of Griffon Vultures.  A good day's birding in good company.
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

 Some sad news to report.  During the summer break it was reported that Rod Prout had died.  Our sympathies go out to Linda and the family.


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