13 April, Arboleas Bird Group at Sierra de los Filabres (Almería)

I'm so glad Dave sent this report before I'd started mine on Fuente de Piedra today as it means I can wait until tomorrow! I now what you mean about 'could do better' on your reports, Dave, mine usually added '... if he tried'. And as for what awaited me at home, I shall not enter in to. That's what comes of gazing out of class room windows at gulls on the school playing fields!

The weather today was bright and sunny as Gilly and I plus 6 other members of the group headed up the hills south from Tijola into the Sierra de Los Filabres. We all met up at the bridge in the valley. Lovely to hear the sound of a babbling brook! A pair of Blackcaps weren't enthused by our presence. We saw Cirl Buntings, Sardinian Warbler, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Long-tailed and Great Tit. No sign yet here of Golden Orioles even though Brian & Mary have seen them in their neck of the woods near Chirivel.

Our next stop was a "lay by" further up the road. A Woodlark gave us good views on a power line. Also saw Red-legged Partridges and Chaffinches. Brian spotted a pair of Red-billed Choughs flying along the hill tops. (Photo - Morocco Feb 2011) A bit further down the road we stopped again after seeing a bird flying from the power lines into an almond grove. Eventually it was found to be a Black-eared Wheatear. We heard both Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker.

Onwards and upwards towards the disused copper mine. I spotted a bird sitting high on a craggy tor. A Golden Eagle being mobbed by Kestrels and Jackdaws. It soon took to the wing and showed itself to be an adult bird. At the mine itself probably saw the same Jackdaws and Kestrels, both of whichappeared to be protecting nest sites. No sign of the anticipated Rock Sparrows. More Choughs made an appearance.
Heading up to the Calar Alto Observatory, to a height of 7,112ft birds were few and far between, but we did manage to get a glimpse of a male Rock Thrush and a number of Northern Wheatears. Round the buildings we saw a pair of Black Redstarts and high above us was a singing Skylark which descended down onto the low vegetation.
We also descended back passed Bacares to the small valley beyond. Very little here. Only bird of note was a singing Nightingale. 32 species seen. " Could do better" as my teachers used to say.....on a regular basis!!

Dave & Gilly

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