Wednesday 22 February 2023

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 22 February

Nevermind the photo opportunity Dave, good to see that you managed to survive the day and were rewarded with some good sightings, especially all those Corn Buntings, Red-legged Partridges and Griffon Vultures., on your latest Arboleas Birding Group adventure.  I note you mention Barrie and Jan joining you for the first time since Covid and I, too, (along with my Jenny) had the pleasure of their company back here in Warsash at the end of last month before they returned to Spain.  I think it was Barrie's first birding trip since Covid so pleased to read that he was able once more to join you.

Trust you'll be feeling better by next week and the camera banging on the case lid to be let out for some more of your cracking pictures.  Foe me, the New Forest beckons on the morrow so fingers crossed that I might just find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and that the visiting Iceland Gull is still hanging about to the north of Southampton's eastern Dock.  Who knows!

Sierra de Maria  -  Wednesday 22nd February

Having spent some of the night on the toilet, I wasn't feeling too well, but being in charge of the birding I couldn't submit a sick note!  I headed north on the E15/A7 and the west on the Granada motorway, coming off at the Velez Rubio exit.  By-passing Velez Blanco I made my way to Maria, following behind Peter in his car.  The only bird I spotted en route was a Red-legged Partridge.  We stopped at the Repsol garage cafe where we were joined by Trevor, Barrie and Jan, the latter two joining us for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

After a coffee we made our way to the start of the loop, seeing a Collared Dove and Carrion Crows on the way.  Leading the convoy I saw some Chaffinch as we travelled through the forest area.  Once in the agricultural area I only added Thekla Lark, but Trevor, in Peter's car, saw a bush full of Corn Buntings. We stopped outside the village of Canadas de Canepla for a scan and catch up.  We found more Corn Buntings, some House Sparrows, Spotless Starlings and a solitary Rock Sparrow.

We carried on.  I spotted a Hoopoe followed by a Kestrel.  On the chimney stack of a farm building I found a Red-billed Chough, the others seeing a large flock.  Moving on we saw large flocks of Woodpigeon and small flocks of Linnet.  Jan and Barrie saw a Red-legged Partridge and an obliging Rock Sparrow.

We stopped at the cliff face.  Jan found a Stonechat on the reeds opposite.  We walked along the road to the far side.  Trevor and I added a Black Wheatear.  We carried on through the villages, past the air strip and onto the hamlet.  We saw more of the same.  Magpies, Spotless Starlings and Thekla Larks but Trevor did add a White Wagtail. 

At the hamlet he was first to see a male Black Redstart.  A pair of Red-billed Chough seemed interested in the barn where they'd nested in previous years.

We convoyed along the plain.  I saw a displaying Calandra Lark and a Little Owl perched on the small ruined building.

We stopped for lunch at the La Piza forest cafe.  Due to my gippy tummy, I only had a glass of milk...yes, I felt that bad!  The nuts we'd replenished the feeders at the end of last year had well and truly gone.  The cafe had put old pieces of bread next to the water pool.  We had visits from Coal, Blue, Long-tailed and Great Tits plus a Chaffinch.  As we were about to leave, a Crossbill and Robin made an appearance.  We said our goodbyes.  As I drove towards the Maria road, there was a large swirl of Griffon Vultures between the road and the mountain ridge, which, by the way, still had some snow on the shaded areas.  I counted at least 40 individuals.  Further along the road towards Maria I saw another 4.

We ended up with 28 species.  The weather was spring-like.  Sunny and warm enough to take our fleeces off.  Good birding in good company.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo opportunity this week.

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