13/06 : Sierra María

When it's hot low down, in theory one should go high where it's cooler. Dave, Gilly and ten meambers of the Arboleas Group tried it out on Wednesday but they make no comments on that except for a gusty breeze, the striong winds down on my end of the coast have been a real pain. I apologise for getting this late on-line.

After ten days in a wet UK, Gilly and I were glad to get out in to some sun. We, together with ten other group members, headed up in to the cooler mountain range of Sierra de María. The only downside of the weather was a gusty breeze. After a cuppa at the garage cafe we headed for the chapel car park. From here and around the chapel area we saw Woodchat Shrike, Rock Bunting and the first of our Golden Orioles
Wandering up to the Botanical Gardens we added Rock Sparrow and a Southern Grey Shrike. We were greeted by the Head Warden, telling us niños (kids) were on the way so we made reasonable haste to keep in front of the darlings! We had a very good selection of forest birds. Great, Blue, Coal and Crested Tits. Short-toed Treecreeper, Crossbill and Firecrest. A Woodlark (L) showed well as did a female Golden OrioleThere has definitely been an increase in numbers of this resplendent species up here. There was usually only one pair by the chapel, but today I estimated a further two pairs in the woods. 
Also seen were Subalpine, Melodious and Western Bonelli's Warblers. Alas no Western Orphean Warblers this year. A Booted Eagle soared overhead as did a few Griffon Vultures. A very vocal Stonechat harrassed us as his three chicks were in the area. We also saw Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. We reached the Information Centre as the kids were entering the gardens. Down at the La Piza Recreation area, Crossbills were lining up to drink from the depósito and fuente. We only added Mistle Thrush to the list, but a Jay at close quarters was a pleasing sight.
     At the ruined farm buildings we saw Red-rumped Swallows, a Common Buzzard and a Hoopoe. A Black-eared Wheatear showed well. Birds were few and far between on the plain, but we did see Northern Wheatear, Crested Lark and a very obliging Lesser Short-toed Lark (R). We were concerned to find no Lesser Kestrels at the hamlet, but after some of us had left Brian, Mary and Terry did see one.
     43 species in all. Glad to be back on my patch!

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