11/04 : Sierra María

Dave, Gilly and the Arboleas Group ventured out en masse (this is foreign meaning a lot together and I only put it in to show off) and had a good morning's birding. The use of the word 'brats' while possibly non PC with regard to their doting and ill-educated parents who are busy passing on the same traits to their brats, is perfectly acceptable as far as I'm concerned (and I can think of worse). There were some of the same at Fuente de Piedra Tuesday morning and I thought in terms of an Heckler & Koch, silenced, with a couple of magazines.
I add my good wishes to Val and Tony and their marathon cycle ride but shall not answer your question, davem be it rhetorical or not. It would be nice to hear how they're going on, what they're seeing and where if that would be at all possible. I would be pleased to publish the news here so their many friends might know what's happening to them.
To boldly go ... (heard that before somewhere), so if you want to pass that on to them, Dave, please feel free to do so.

Also, 4
Orcas were seen from Calaburras 3 days since (male and 3 females) and yesterday a White-tailed Tropicbird claimed from Benjarafe (E of Málaga) but as they can be easily mixed up with Red-billed from underneath, I'm holding fire on the specific identification as I've seen no photos. Plus, for those who live within easyish access to Charca de Suárez, Motril, this is currently the place to go, suitably armed with bundles of patience, for crakes (nasty, creepy, skulking little critters).
Ten members of the group met at the garage cafe in María prior to our birding for the day. Weather was sunny with some clouds, but high winds might be a problem. For a change we first headed down towards the plain. At the derelict farm buildings we had a good first bird, a female Black-eared Wheatear. Also seen was a Black Redstart. On the trees overlooking the water deposit were 4 Crossbills. A passing Hoopoe was seen. I managed to spot a distant Booted Eagle, the first of 3-4 seen during the day. Moving along to the water troughs we found 15 Rock Sparrows sitting on the wire fence waiting to drink. Also watering were Goldfinches, Crested Larks and Linnets.
Slowly driving along the plain straight, we saw a pair of Northern Wheatears, a cracking male Black-eared Wheatear, numerous Calandra Larks, a few Lesser Short-toed Larks and numerous small flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches. At the hamlet there were at least 6 Lesser Kestrels. Some distant Griffon Vultures were also observed.
A coffee stop at La Piza recreation area added a pair of Woodlarks sitting on the goalposts and Crested Tits round the cafe. Crossbills were as usual keeping an eye on us from above.
We were greeted at the Chapel car park by two coaches.....a double dose of school children. Their screams and shouts echoed off the mountain ridge! Unperturbed we checked out round the water trough and BBQ area. At least three Short-toed Treecreepers were seen. Val and Rob saw their first ever Cirl Bunting.
The loud brats...sorry, children, were hanging round the information centre, so we managed to get the botanical garden side of them. We saw Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, but the star was a superb Subalpine Warbler.
Had a great day actually. 33 species seen. Spirits not dampened by kids or winds. Best wishes to Val and Tony. They're heading to France soon AND cycling from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Are they Insane?
PS. Note that "our" Little Swifts, up to a few days ago, were still being seen at Morales!

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