24 July: Los Filabres

Before we jump in to the Almería territory, a note from my own garden. Last Sunday a family of 3 or 4 Short-toed Treecreepers spent the morning calling but steadfastly remaining mostly invisible. Then from Monday onwards there has been a newly fledged family of three young Spotted Flycatchers which this morning is down to two young birds. These are learning how to catch flies incredibly quickly and I was watching just before 08h when it was quiet and I could hear bills snapping as insects became breakfast. I have the subjective feeling that somewhere around 20-25% of the swifts have shoved off in this past week, there certainly appearing to be less around in the late afternoon when I go walkies on my own.
The Arboleas Group decided to go for altitude in their search for cooler weather where it is supposed ot be about 3ºC cooler for every 1.000m of altitude (or something close) but it does increase the possibility of being sunburnt.
Dave, thank you for your faith in my love of LBJs, although is actually an MBJ (Medium Brown Job). Before even reading your text and looking at the photos, my first reaction that your beautifully blurred photo was, as you suggest: a Tawny Pipit. But as it doesn't seem to show the dark line of coverts it sort of put me off, but I wonder if it was a juvenile? I know amazingly little about the species but the jizz of the thing feels right, and the habitat is also.
a view from Sierra Filabres
The heat here is oppressive, so, as I mentioned in last weeks report, to avoid it we were going for altitude! As none of today's 9 members had been up the Los Filabres, we met up just outside Arboleas and we convoyed up to Tijola. We made our way to the now refurbished bridge over a brook just beyond Bayarque in a valley. On the way we spotted a roadside Woodchat Shrike. I'd already warned that the prospects of seeing a lot today were not good. We managed to see a couple of Black Wheatears on the ridge and building above us. Crag Martins were flying around and a charm of Goldfinches flew over. 
Northern Wheatear
We left there and headed up towards Bacares, stopping at various unofficial lay-bys to check out what if anything was around. We added Black-eared Wheatears and a family of four Kestrels. Also seen were a couple of scruffy, presumed juvenile, Bee Eaters
Before reaching Bacares we bared right to head further up towards the old mine. A male Blue Rock Thrush showed well, but right on a blind bend so a brief stop only! We sauntered into the old mine complex, seeing Crag Martins overhead and entering nest holes in the cliff face. A Black Redstart was also seen taking food to another hole. Whilst there a Grayling type butterfly took a liking to my shoulder! Over the road, where we'd parked, we checked out the valley below and managed to see some Rock Sparrows on the power lines.

Booted Eagle
We now reached real altitude as we headed for the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory.at 2,168 metres (7113ft). There was even snow on a distant mountain range! We were greeted by a soaring adult Booted Eagle. We parked up near to the buildings. I saw a bird on a nearby rock formation. I was positive it was a Tawny Pipit, but looking at the slightly fuzzy photo I took, I'm not so sure now. I'll leave the ID to Andy in his prologue as you know how much he likes LBJs! There were numerous Black Redstarts with smaller numbers of Rock Sparrows. Northern Wheatears were seen with beak-fulls of food as well.

No, the birding wasn't brilliant, but the scenery and views were great as was the cooler climate! A lowly 17 species seen.

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