a mea culpa, 13 May, Sierra María.

A mea culpa to Dave and the Arboleas Group for omitting to publish the 14 May report of their visit to the Sierra María which arrived whilst I was on my way to Madeira and which got overlooked in the midst of all my mail which was awaiting me on return - my apologies to all concerned, especially Dave who wrote it, and, working on the basis of better late than never, here it is.

13 May 2010, Sierra de Maria
It was lovely and sunny as we four members left Arboleas. We (the men) regretted only wearing T-shirts as we got out of the car in Maria. There was a cold wind, noticeable especially when the sun disappeared behind the numerous clouds.The women had, of course, brought their fleeces with them!! On the approach to the town we had already ticked off Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear and Rock Sparrow. Major works were going on the the chapel carpark and also a coach full of children had arrived before us. Undeterred, we wandered round the chapel. We had good views of a Nightingale who was battling with a Robin over the ownership of a large shrub.

We followed the song of a Golden Oriole.
Gilly managed to get a glimpse of the bright yellow male, but the rest of us didn't. Above us in the tall poplar tree, a small group of Crossbills were waiting for our departure to swoop down to the water trough.

We slowly walked up to the Botanical Gardens as Gilly and Myrtle had dodgy knees and me with my dicky ticker!! A steady stream of Griffon Vultures were cruising along the mountain ridge. At one point we saw a Sparrowhawk, followed by a pair of Red-billed Chough flying up to harass a passing vulture. Due to our medical status (and not wanting to follow in the kids noisy footsteps) we kept to the lower less strenuous path. A small number of the migrant warblers had arrived. Had good views of Subalpine, Melodious and Bonelli's Warblers. We stopped for a rest at the seat under the tree at the far end.

A pair of Coal Tits were not happy with our presence and came within feet to show their annoyance. As we got near to the information Centre on the way back, we had good views of Short-toed Treecreepers on the pines.
A slow drive along the plain towards the Granada province boundary produced a Booted Eagle and a few Calandra Larks.
At the end of the day a respectable 40 species were seen. Not bad considering the cold wind.

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