Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cabo de Gata with John and Jenny

Friday 10 April

Just dashing off on the long journey from Lincolnshire to Plymouth but received the following report from John and Jenny Wainwright who are enjoying a short break in Cabo de Gata.  I say enjoying but by all sounds from Andalucias you seem to be receiving a right bashing weather-wise with, once again, very strong winds.  It seems a shame to chip in and say that this week, back her in Stamford, Lincolnshire has been sunny and gloriously warm for the time of the year!  The real question on the minds, though, is whether or not John and Jenny will find themselves the illusive Trumpeter Finch?

Cato de Gata  8th April    Day 1

A very, very windy day but sunny.

We left home (Salar) at 8am  heading for the above, on the way we saw Jackdaws, Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and a nice view of two Common Cuckoos as they flew across our front on the autovia.

After unloading the car at the hotel we drove down to the hide on the bend, the only bird seen was a Greenfinch, and it was risking its life in the wind as it was over 40km/h, even we had a job keeping upright.

We then drove round to the other public hide, here we got another sand-blasting, so we moved onto the lighthouse area where we picked up a couple of Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and a Sandwich Tern, a lone Yellow-legged Gull and a Cormorant was noted as well. On the journey back - rain was had (the hotel lad said "it never rains here")  - but we did spot a Raven.

Short-toed Lark Callandrella brachydactyla (PHOTO: John Wainright)
We headed back to the hotel for a break and a de-sanding exercise. Made a point of staying in the rest of the day - well in the bar anyhow.  Blimey isn´t beer expensive down this end of the country!!!

Cabo de Gata  9th April  Day 2

A very pleasant day inland but still a tad breezy at the coast - but nothing in comparison to yesterday.

After yesterday´s sandblasting, today was heaven, so we headed across to Las Norias. At first the location was very fraught, with the main road being so very busy, so we took a turn off taking us to the left of the large plastics works and parked at the first viewpoint.

Here we saw Great Crested Grebes, Cormorant, Common Coots, Common Sandpiper, Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Purple Swamphen and Moorhens.  A nice surprise was the Purple Heron that came from seemingly nowhere, circled the waters and disappeared to the east of us.

A few Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta plus five Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola (PHOTO: John Wainright)

Over on the larger lagoon we found eight Collared Pratincoles, Black-winged Stilts, one Sandwich Tern and six Gulled-billed Terns. An adult Black-crowned Night Heron flew across a gap in the reeds.  We couldn´t find that one but picked another one up later on but  further round the lagoon. Also about here were Black-winged Stilts, Black-necked Grebe, Gadwalls, Common Pochard and Red-crested Pochard, Teal, Mallard, a single Grey Heron and another Shoveler.  A few Greenfinches, House Sparrows, Zitting Cisticola, Collared Doves, Common Magpies, Cattle and Little Egrets, and another surprise was a lone Glossy Ibis.  Hirundines were in good numbers consisting of Crag, Sand and House Martins, Barn Swallows, Common and Pallid Swifts.

We drove round and through the greenhouse area where we found a Squacco Heron, a Black-crowned Night Heron (the one I mentioned earlier), Redshanks, Little Ringed Plovers, three Green Sandpipers and another Common Sandpiper.  Dunlin and Little Stints were located on one of the small mud banks as were more Collared Pratincoles.  In the bushes and reed beds we found Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warblers, Goldfinches, Cetti´s Warbler, a rather dubious Spanish Sparrow, Crested Larks and a lone Yellow Wagtail.  We did however find a Lesser Emperor Dragonfly Anax parthenope (resting on a rock).

Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope dragonfly (PHOTO: Jenny Wainright)
Returning back to Cabo de Gata and the lighthouse area, we dipped again on the Trumpeter Finches but did get Black Wheatears, Corn Buntings, Linnets, Hoopoe, Meadow Pipit and two Lesser Kestrels, plus a very natty looking parasitic sand wasp Dasylabris maura - searching for a host.
Calling in at the "Observatory hide" on our way back from the "lighthouse", we found four Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, one Redshank, hundreds of Avocets and Greater Flamingos, Whiskered Terns, Grey Plovers, Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, several Shelduck, Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, two Kentish Plovers, most of the hirundines already mentioned.  Greenfinches, Corn Buntings and three Short-toed Larks were spotted further along on the beach road.

A solitary Parasitic Ant Dasylabris maura (PHOTO: John Wainright)
We haven´t decided yet on tomorrows port of call, but possibly the Cuervas de Los Medinas and Ubedas.

Pleased to read that the weather improved on the second day and, at least, you managed to find some quality birds.  If you get back to the lighthouse area, take the road on the left as you approach and drive a mere hundred metres or so, I am sure that you will locate your Trumpeter Finches.  And yet again you seem to have found at least three species still awaiting my observation this year; Collared Pratincole, Squacco Heron and Short-toed Lark.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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