29 June, Sierra María

Dave and Gilly's account of their solitary and fruitful visit to Sierra María (Almería) on 29 June whilst I was at the opposite end of Andalucía.
Gilly and I were on our own on this visit to the Sierra de Maria. The weather was hot & sunny. As we arrived at the chapel we saw an adult Booted Eagle soaring above us. (Heard from a ranger later that there was a nest in the area). The water trough was crowded with 14 Crossbills with a single Cirl Bunting waiting its turn on a fence.
We headed up to the Botanical Garden, seeing a Woodchat Shrike on the way. Near to the "steel" tree, Gilly spotted some Firecrests. My MP3 player got them interested enough for a photo opportunity. The sound of Blue Tit chicks came from a nestbox. The most numerous birds were Bonelli's Warblers. We also saw Short-toed Treecreepers, Great Tits and Goldfinches. A lone Mistle Thrush sang from a pine tree top. Above us at least 25 Griffon Vultures flew over, but that number is nothing to the 200+ seen by Brian and Mary at the feeding station the previous week!! On our walk up and down dale we saw Melodious Warbler, Coal Tit and a high soaring Sparrowhawk. As we returned to the chapel we heard a Golden Oriole.
We made a welcome refreshment stop at La Piza, seeing only Crossbill and Short-toed Treecreeper. We didn't stop at the farm buildings as there were roadworkings going on, so we headed on to the plain, where the lines of field dividing rocks where many larks and wheatearz perch, were being loaded onto a dumper truck for hardcore for the road widening. We did manage to see Northern and Black-eared Wheatears and both Crested and Thekla Larks. At the area by the water deposit we saw Rock Sparrows and 3 Turtle Doves. Around the hamlet 8 Lesser Kestrels were present.
We'd been invited to take lunch with Brian and Mary at their home in Chirivel so headed over the mountain pass, adding a Stonechat to the list. Mary had a fall last week & bruised her hip. We wish her a speedy recovery.
36 species for the day.

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