7 May, Arboleas Birding Group, Sierra María

Having spent the morning waiting around for scans in a Málaga hospital (yes, they have found my brain!) and then lunch I went straight out and had a lazy, very pleasant afternoon at the Guadalhorce with Federico who is down from Córdoba. So, having come back and the sun has fallen and faced with writing a blog, I opened up the laptop to find the below from Dave and Gilly, along with a bundle of his imagery (this is an americanism and really means photos), I shall cherrypick and pop the best in instead. By the by, note that Dave says they saw Chiffchaff, this must be the Iberian Chiffchaff. Were they singing differently?

As I expect to be at the Guadalhorce on Sunday, I shall combine the two visits in one blog, but there was little to see and stimulate double backward flips with tuck.

Due to commitments and absentees, Gilly and I decided to change our destination and head back to the Sierra de Maria. This is the best time of year there for birds, in my opinion, and we didn't want to miss out. The weather was glorious., sunny, no clouds, and a light breeze to keep the temperature at a pleasant level. Ideal for photography.

We arrived at the chapel to be greeted by a Rock Sparrow on the cross and the song of an invisible Golden Oriole from the tall trees. We saw the first of many Crossbill in the higher branches and a Nightingale was in the shrubs. On the way up to the information centre, we met the head ranger, who informed us we had a couples of hours peace and quiet before a coach load of school kids arrived! Gilly spotted a bird singing away in a distant pine tree - our first Orphean Warbler of the year. Once we got into the Botanical Garden proper the commonest birds were Bonelli's Warblers. They were everywhere. We also saw a few Chiffchaff, Melodious and Subalpine Warblers, but surprisingly, no Sardinian. A single Short-toed Eagle floated over. We were very pleased to see a Blue Tit was nesting in the box we donated a couple of years ago.
Sure enough, at the designated time, we heard, from a great distance, the arrival of the kids, so we made our way to the La Piza woodland cafe for lunch, during which we were entertained by two pairs of Booted Eagle (3 pale, 1 dark morph) playing in the thermals directly above us. The usual Crossbills were drinking at the fuente. The arrival of the school kids curtailed further relaxation.

On the plain were two pairs of Northern Wheatear and singles of Calandra & Lesser Short-toed Larks. Six Griffon Vulture soared over. Our first Roller of the year was seen on the way back. It was then back over the mountian range towards Chirivel. The track had been graded so is now okay for non 4x4's. Stonechat and Black-eared Wheatear completed our 49 species for the day.

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