21 April, Sierra María with the Arboleas Group

If Dave, Gilly and company had been here they'd have gone birding with waterwings, and even so this morning as I write it is bucketing down after an exceedingly wet night (see photo on the left here of my dog watching the rain). So, on this vile Good Friday morning with little good in it bird-wise, I leave you with Dave's account and the hope that the Easter Bunny has brought you something nice (not what you think, Dave!).

By the by, dogs are often better and nicer than their owners who should be literate and aren't, all except for my sister's black labrador who is mentally retarded!

There were 12 of us in the group that arrived at the chapel in the Sierra de Maria. Things didn't look good weather wise. We were in low cloud and visibility was down to about 50 yards. Having already logged Blue and Great Tit prior to getting here we saw Mistle Thrush and Crested Tit. We expected that the Botanical Garden might have been closed as it was a bank holiday, but we were pleased to discover it wasn't. We'd also picked up a 13th "member", a small Alsatian type dog who ignored the "No Perros" sign. Actually it was as good as gold. Didn't bark or run around. Birds were difficult to see. They could hear you approaching way before the visibility allowed us to spot them, but we had good views of Subalpine Warbler. We then spotted an Orphean Warbler which gave everyone good views. The only other birds of note were a Stonechat and Long-tailed Tits.

As we descended back to the main road the visibility got decidedly better. We headed towards the plain, stopping at the run down farm buildings where we saw Rock Sparrow. On the plain we stopped to see a pair of Northern Wheatears and a Lesser Short-toed Lark. I then got a phone call from Gilly who was in the car bringing up the rear to say they'd spotted some distant Griffon Vultures. I counted about 6 in the departing group. Whilst stopped a pair of Calandra Larks gave a good display.

At the hamlet just across the Granada Province border I wanted to check out the numerous Kestrels there.After a close study we can now confirm that they the majority were Lesser Kestrels with 2-3 of their larger relatives. We then headed back to the La Piza Recreation area with the sun now shining! The Crossbills were there but in smaller numbers. Gilly and I then spotted a chunkier bird flying into one of the trees above the water deposit - a Hawfinch wich was a lifer for many of the group. 35 species in all. Another very enjoyable day. Thanks to all present.
Dave & Gilly

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