Arboleas Birding Group - 15th April 2009, Sierra de Maria

Thank God for Dave and Gilly and the Arboleas Birding Group, or this blog would be an awful lot poorer! Here is their latest excursion report, plus a pair of Dave's smashing photos of male Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, this latter being one of the black-throated form.

It was with great anticipation that Gilly and I left Arboleas in full sunshine on our way up to the Sierra de Maria. The sun was still shining as we passed Velez Blanco, where to our right we spotted 14 Griffon Vultures soaring on a thermal near to the feeding station. On the road from there to María town we saw the first of numerous Black-eared Wheatears. We met up with Brian and Mary from Chirivel at the garage cafe and then headed to the Botanical Gardens.

Our weather luck changed dramatically as we were wandering
round the chapel. Grey clouds were pouring over the rapidly disappearing mountain ridge like a waterfall and depositing an increasingly heavy shower upon us before we retreated to the safety of our cars we did manage to see Linnet and Cirl Bunting. At the La Piza recreation area we were greeted by
a Booted Eagle and a Raven having a
dogfight low above our heads. Loads of Crossbills were loitering above the water deposit and the first of numerous Woodchat Shrikes was seen, as was a single Crested Tit. After a warming coffee there we headed onto the plain where Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks were displaying. Corn Buntings were highly visible and audible. A pair of Northern Wheatears showed themselves as did a Little Owl. Brian and Mary then showed us a route back over the mountain ridge to Chirivel. Numerous Black-eared Wheatears and Woodchat Shrikes were seen, as was a small flock of Red-billed Chough through the low clouds. Even though the weather was against us we scored 41 species.

We were glad to warm up
back in Arboleas where the sun had shone all day!!

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