24/10 : Sierra de María

Once again, thank heavens for Dave, Gilly and the Arboleas group. I shall try and get a bit on the trip my sister and I did down to La Janda just over a week since but life has not been of the easiest.

Gilly and I met up with eight other members of the group at the cafe in María. As it was still a bit chilly, I decided we'd go down to the plain first before heading to the Botanical Gardens. As we headed for the farm ruins several Jays flew across the road in front of us, as did a Griffon Vulture, the only one of the day! At the ruins some Crossbills were, as usual, perched on the tree by the water deposit. A number of Black Redstarts were flitting about on the ploughed field. Also seen were Carrion Crows, Southern Grey Shrike, Goldfinches and Chaffinches.
     Moving on, we next came across a mixed flock of mostly Linnets, but also some Corn Buntings and Rock Sparrow. As we watched them an obliging Calandra Lark was doing a display flight above us. We drove on to the plain and were pleased to see both Northern Wheatear and Calandra Lark on roadside boulders. A Little Owl was also seen.
     Heading back towards María, we stopped briefly at the La Piza recreation area which is now closed for the winter.
Gilly spotted a Green Woodpecker. Colin heard a Robin. Also seen were some Mistle Thrushes.
     We then made for the Chapel. Not many birds were seen round the trough. A Kestrel was seen, as were Jays. We then began the walk to the Gardens. On the ploughed field there were at least 6 Black Redstarts and a Meadow Pipit. A Woodlark serenaded us and a pair of Cirl Buntings were noted.
I have never known the Gardens so quiet. We only added Short-toed Treecreeper, Blue Tit, Great Tit  and Chiffchaff to the list. Gilly thought she might have seen a high flying Peregrine Falcon. The lack of birds could be something to do with the weather. It was grey and cloudy and when spots of rain began to fall we headed back to the cars.
Not the best day we've had up there by any means, but we did manage to scrape 31 species.

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