12/09 : Sierra de María

Rather a difficult day, so straight into Dave's report by Arboleas' Grouo visit to the sierra..
     As Rob and Val drove us towards the Sierra de Maria, we could not see a cloud in the sky. Before arriving in the town to meet up with Brian, Mary, Colin and Sandra, we'd already seen 8 Bee-eaters on the roadside power lines. After refreshments at the garage cafe we headed up to the chapel area. A distant Jay was seen, as was a pair of Chiffchaffs near the drinking water supply. The birds using the water trough were few and far between due to the very close proximity of a cat and kitten, but we did see Rock Bunting and both Crested and Great Tit loitering with thirsty intent!
     We wandered up towards the Botanical Gardens disturbing a Sardinian Warbler on the way. We then heard Bee-eaters. The first flock of about 10 flew over. We later saw flocks of 20+ & 40+ heading south. No swifts today, but we did see a few Barn Swallows and House Martins. A Booted Eagle soared above us. One of the Rangers gave us the good news that no school parties were due today so we had the walks to ourselves. We had good views of Blue, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. I was pleased to see the staff had constructed a very small water feature which attracted birds including the tit families, Serin and Chaffinch. An elusive Firecrest made an appearance, but as could be predicted all the summer warblers had left.
A Pied Flycatcher was sitting on one of the picnic tables as we arrived. Small pools of water were on most of the tables, which attracted Crossbill, Coal, Great, Crested and Long-tailed Tits to take on water. A Short-toed Treecreeper was seen and a steady flow of Griffon Vultures passed overhead.
     Well satisfied we headed home. Only 27 species in all, but what a great days birding.

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