30 June, Sierra de María, Almería

The inimitable Mr Noël Coward sang about mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the mid day sun and I'm sure he would have included birders if there had been more around in those far off days. However, the Arboleas Bird Group lets no mid day sun destroy their pleasures and boldly go where they have been before, and with good results and a lunch to follow too! Here is Dave's account and photos of the trip.

Still being tired from our last weeks early morning exploits, I did consider cancelling this week, but I'm really glad Brian phoned me to knock me back to my senses. Sierra de Maria was our destination and we met Brian and Mary from Chirivel at Maria's Repsol garage cafe. After a revitalising coffee we headed up to the Chapel car park. I spotted a distant Booted Eagle. We wandered around to the water fountain and trough. We heard and saw the moving shadow of a Golden Oriole, but not the actual bird. A Bonelli's Warbler made an appearance as did a Short-toed Treecreeper and an Iberian Chiffchaff. At the trough itself, Linnet, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Crossbill came to drink. Got a good photo of a butterfly, which I've been informed is a Spanish Marbled White.

We sauntered up to the Botanical Garden in the hot sun. A pair of Cirl Buntings had a nest in one of the shrubs. In the forest walk itself birds were few and far between, but the commonest were Bonelli's Warbler. I managed to do the medium walk this time without too much strain, but Gilly was struggling with her dodgy knee. Melodious Warblers were still quite visible and vocal, but the rest of the warblers were skulking, including a juvenile Subalpine Warbler. Stopped for a rest at the seat at the far end, where I spotted my first Orphean Warbler of the year...and probably my last!!

Wasn't much at the La Piza forest cafe, so we carried on to the ruined farm buildings. Saw another pair of Booted Eagles and a few Griffon Vultures. Missing out the plains we climbed over the mountains, seeing Corn Bunting, Roller, Kestrel and Black-eared Wheatear on the way to Brian and Mary's house where they gave us lunch!
A wonderful day. 39 species in all.

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