03/10 : Sierra de María

After having had a large chunk of Andalucía battered, damaged and washed away following the tremendous rainfall a week since, news and film of which even reached Brisbane (Oz) from whence friends e-mailed to see if we were alright here. Dave's opening comment and the photo which prefaces his report say it all.
Meanwhile there is still plenty of  passerine passage and it appears that the Griffon Vulture passage has started. As usual, Cádiz province is notching up the rarities which have included Pacific Golden Plover on the Los Lances beach at Tarifa (and which was allegedly kept under wraps for four days) and a Lesser Yellowlegs up near Barbate, plus an odd report this morning of 2 Royal Terns inland in Granada province, but the photo quality doesn't convince me.
I was down on La Janda yesterday and shall post that tomorrow.

Motorway bridge self destructed, the driver escaped safely

To say a lot of water has passed under the bridge since last week would be incorrect in our area. The force of water during Friday's storm has brought down numerous bridges including one on the E15 Autovía at Lorca. Our access to that motorway has been cut off unless you want a 45 minute detour round the villages to the north of Huercal Overa. I therefore invited those who could make it to meet me at the Sierra de Maria as the roads that way appeared to be okay.
     Gilly and I, together with an old member who was here on holiday, Stan, met up with Brian, Mary, Adrian and Helen. After a coffee we headed up to the chapel. As we wandered round we saw Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Spotless Starling and White Wagtail. Near to the water trough there was a small flock of Long-tailed Tits taking the waters together with a Blue Tit and a Blackcap. We then walked up towards the Botanical Gardens seeing numerous Woodlarks, a slightly worn male Common Redstart. Cirl Bunting and a female Stonechat.
     A walk around the lower part of the Gardens was virtually birdless. Usually we come across a tit flock, but today we only saw a Sardinian Warbler in the small bird department and a Common Buzzard. Brian spotted a Crested Tit as we returned to the Information Centre.
     We then headed towards the plain. In front of us, as we travelled through the pine wood, we could see plumes of soaring Griffon Vultures ahead. We raced to the ruined farm buildings. There we counted between 50-60 Griffons to the north, many overflying us. Near to the water deposit was one, maybe two Pied Flycatchers and some Crossbills at the top of the adjacent tree. Also saw a large flock of Barn Swallows and a fast, low flying Sparrowhawk.
     On the plain we added Crested Lark, Carrion Crow and Corn Bunting. Helen and Adrian saw a Lesser Short-toed Lark as well. When we got to the Hamlet we were surprised to see there'd been a small fall of Yellow Wagtails, at least half a dozen in all. There were all put to flight by another Sparrowhawk.
     Also there were a group of Spanish Air force lads. It transpired they were waiting for some Hercules planes to do a "touch, drop and go" manoeuvre where they push out a vehicle or cargo through the rear door as they land and take off. We should've hung around to see it, but we were at the La Piza Recreation area when they flew low over, disturbing a flock of Crossbills.
     On the way back towards Velez Blanco we added a Kestrel, which took our tally to 35 species. Also saw a low flying Golden Eagle between Chirivel and Oria.
     A reasonable day. Hopefully we can head south next week depending on the road access!

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