Friday 15 September 2023

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 13 September

Good to see Dave and the Arboleas Birding Group are back in the birding field, even if on this occasion not overburdened with sightings.  But those seen demonstrated quality over quantity!  Loved the report of both the Griffon Vulture and Short-toed Eagle sightings and a Black-eared Wheatear is not to be sniffed at - certainly by one who is now residing back in the UK!  Only better things to come Dave and co as the winter migrants start to appear.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 13th September

It's been some time since we've been out for a trip.  Firstly the summer recession then boundary problems with our neighbours.

Richard and Juda came round to the house and we headed off in Richard's car, me driving, to the Sierra de Maria.  Once we passed the bird list starting point outside Velez Blanco we were on the lookout for any bird.  Richard was the only scorer with a Collared Dove!  We went through Maria town.  About a couple of kilometres out I slammed the brakes on.  Not 15 metres from the road, sitting on a ploughed field was a Griffon Vulture.  Panic ensued as I tried to get the camera.  Richard hopefully got a shot as it took off.  Double drat!!

Exiting Griffon Vulture (PHOTO: Richard Hirons)

En route to the La Piza forest cafe, the meeting point, we added a Magpie.

Upon arrival at that location, we walked over to the cafe, spotting a Jay as we did so.   I reloaded the bird feeders with peanuts noting that previously someone had used bombay mix!

We were joined by Trevor and ordered coffees.  Juda saw a Crested Tit, followed by Richard adding a Long Tailed Tit. There were numerous House Sparrows using the facilities, which may explain the lack of other birds.  We only added Great and Coal Tit before we headed for the loop.

I led with my two passengers whilst Trevor brought up the rear.  The only birds we saw before the village were a Carrion Crow, a steady stream of passing Barn Swallows and a Crested Tit.  At the village stop we only added Spotless Starlings.

Black-eared Wheatear (PHOTO: Richard Hirons)

We headed along the track.  Our happiness on finding more new tarmac was short lived as it only continued for one kilometre!  There were small flocks of Goldfinches feeding on the thistles.   A female Black-eared Wheatear was a nice sighting.  We then added a number of Northern Wheatears.  Also seen were a few Woodpigeons and more Carrion Crows.

Northern Wheatear (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

As we approached the cliff face Juda shouted, " What's that?"  An adult Short-toed Eagle flying just above the cliff outcrop.  We followed it, noticing two black "corvids" near it.  We heard the unmistakable sound of Red-bill Chough calls.  A walk to the far side of the cliff didn't produce a bird, so we headed towards the hamlet only seeing a Sardinian Warbler fly across in front of the car.  There was nothing at the Hamlet.  Trevor had a dodgy tummy so made tracks to the La Piza cafe.  We drove along the plain only adding a Kestrel.  There was nothing at the water trough, so we joined Trevor briefly at the cafe.  He headed off home due to his stomach problem.  Richard was first to see a Crossbill and I added a Chaffinch as we were about to leave.

Short-toed Eagle (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

It reads like we had a poor day, but to the contrary it was great to be out, leaving temporarily my stress behind.  Great to see the Short-toed Eagle in good company.

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