Firstly I'd like to welcome Helen Commandeur to our group. Gilly and I picked her up and took her for her first outing to the Sierra de Maria. We met up with Brian and Mary at the cafe before heading up to the chapel. A slow drive up to the car park produced Goldfinch, Greenfinch and the first of many Chaffinches. There was low cloud cover and a bit of a breeze. Not good for birding up here, but we persevered. We spotted a pair of Rock Sparrows. Above us was a very vocal Raven. We soon had notched up Rock and Cirl Bunting, Robin, Stonechat and a Northern Starling amongst some Spotless ones.
We drove down onto the plain where the sun was finally making an appearence. Our target bird was a Calandra Lark, another lifer for Helen. We didn't have to wait long to see some by the roadside, one posing beautifully for Helen and her large lensed camera. Then I spotted two birds flying in front of us, left to right. Quickly got the binoculars on them...Black-bellied Sandgrouse. A first for us up here.
On the way down to the hamlet (just over the border into Granada Province) we encountered large flocks of Linnets. At the hamlet we counted 10 Kestrels in the vicinity. Some flying around, some sitting on the rooftops, but lots of mating going on, unusual to see so many Kestrels in one place, so checked for signs of Lesser Kestrel with a negative result. On the way back we saw a glimpse of a passing Lesser Short-toed Lark.