10 June, Los Filabres (Almería), Arboleas Birding Group

As always, my thanks to Dave and Gilly for this report on the Arboleas Birding Group visit to Sierra de los Filabres. The photos are, of course, Dave's. It is interesting that they heard a Nightingale, as the males tend to dry up by about the end of May through sheer exhaustion, I reckon! Note how washed out the plumage is on the male Black-eared Wheatear.

To escape the lowland heat, 7 members of the group headed up the northern side of the Sierra de Los Filabres, heading for the Observatorio del Calar Alto. Having left the village of Tijola, our first stop was in a pleasant valley where a bridge crosses a fast flowing stream. We heard Golden Oriole, Cetti's Warbler and Nightingale, but managed to see Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers. Black Wheatears were playing on a ruined house above us. We then drove further up the foothills and stopped at a layby overlooking the valley with hills behind. We were greeted by a flock of 10 Red-billed Choughs.

On the telegraph wires were saw Corn Bunting and Black-eared Wheatear. Onwards and upwards towards our final destination, we stopped at the disused copper mine. Rock Sparrow and Crag Martin were nesting on the cliff face, but no sign of last years nesting Alpine Swift. Climbing further up onto the Observatory plateau, Northern Wheatears were common sitting on the natural rocky outcrops.

A Tawny Pipit
obligingly posed for a photo. We were now at the "summit" at some 2168 metres, 7,100ft, wandering around the Observatory buildings when we saw our bird of the day, a magnificent male Rock Thrush. We had good views of this blue/russet/white bird, but only from a distance as it sat on roadside snowpoles. Woodlark and Black Redstart were also seen. 34 species for the day, so well satisfied!

Dave and Ann Jefferson visited the Guadalhorce today (Thursday) and saw one Purple Boghen (sans any chicks) and 3 Gull-billed Terns, these failed breeders from Fuente de Piedra I rather suspect.

Yesterday, while walking the dog by the river, I figuratively ran in to Estebán (he who drives the Land Rover truck but appears to believe that walking is bad for the legs) and he had seen a Purple Heron
the previous day (Tuesday), perhaps the same as I saw last week. They bred there about 1997 or 1998. Is this a bird hanging around as a sign of things to come next year? I am going tomorrow with Federico who is down from Córdoba, so perhaps there will be more news.

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