Whilst I was busy working my way northwards on a Ryanair from Malaga to East Midlands, Dave and his Arboleas Bird Group were having much more fun as they explored Cabo de Gata and the neighbouring Rambla de Morales. Interesting photo of a juvenile Wigeon that could, in the field, well have been mistaken for a Common Pochard at first glance.
Cabo de Gata and Rambla de Morales
Wednesday 5th October 2016
As Gilly was working, I was, after getting her breakfast in bed, a free agent to leave for Cabo de Gata whilst it was still dark. Heading for the far end of the reserve, I spotted a pair of Raven and some Lesser Black Backed Gulls on the beach.
I stopped for a "Thermos" coffee before commencing my slow drive round the rear of the reserve. There was a constant strong breeze from the east which was quite cool. My first bird was a power line perched Iberian Grey Shrike, closely followed by a Grey Heron. There was still no water in the salinas till you reached the only hide about half way round. I had Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola and Crested Lark. A Cattle Egret flew over. Amazingly and disappointingly there were no waders at all. I did see Greater Flamingo in the salinas beyond my pools. The occasional Barn Swallow passed by.
I met up with 10 other members of the group in the Pujaire cafe for a cuppa before heading to the first hide, John seeing a Black Wheatear in the village. From the hide we could see many Greater Flamingos as well as Avocets, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and the odd Little Stint, Sanderling, Kentish Plover and Redshank. There was a line of distant Black Tailed Godwit. Kevin found some Shelduck and I spotted a Kestrel on a pylon. Numerous Slender Billed Gulls were feeding.
Moving towards the second hide, I saw an Eurasian Curlew on the beach, which was later seen to fly onto the savannah by Richard. As we parked up a small flock of Greenfinch were disturbed. We added a Stonechat as we got to the hide. John and I observed a small raptor flying away which we concluded was a Sparrowhawk, which was later seen by Jim flying low and fast passed the hide. John, Rod and I all spotted the two Spoonbill flying from the right to land with another individual the far side of the salina. As we walked back we saw both Sardinian and Spectacled Warbler, the latter being a first for some of the members. Some of us had already driven towards the public hide when Richard saw a large bird flying towards them. A Black Stork came very close to them before returning to the salina. I, meanwhile, was taking a few photos of the Raven that were still on the beach.
From the hide we saw a large resting flock of Shoveler, mostly females, sheltering on one of the islands. There were also about half a dozen Greenshank. Troy, bless her, then found the bird of the day. A large female Peregrine Falcon sitting by the waters edge presumably letting her recent meal settle in her stomach! To the right there was a long line of Audouin's Gull on the rocky causeway, but not the usual Sandwich Terns. John also found a Turnstone.
We stopped for a tostada and drinks at the beachside cafe in Cabo village. We seawatched adding Yellow Legged and Black Headed Gulls to the list. A Cormorant flew passed.
We convoyed along the beachside track to the Rambla Morales, where last week a Buff Breasted Sandpiper had been seen by local guide Jesus Contreras. Numerous hirundines were seen. Mostly Barn Swallows, but also a few Sand Martin. John found a Red-rumped Swallow. He also found a Mediterranean Gull amongst the hundreds of Black-headeds. Further down we added Coot and some White Headed Duck. We heard a Cetti's Warbler. We walked back towards the vehicles. John and I checked out the estuary end. There was a pair of Bar Tailed Godwit together with Sanderling, Little Stint, Ringed and Kentish Plover. A pair of Yellow Wagtail were seen. After I left to head to the campsite exit, John and some others saw a Sandwich Tern. I meanwhile had found a small flock of Shoveler and with them was what I think to be an immature female Wigeon. I apologise for the quality of the photos. It was very windy and most were distant shots! We ended with a very respectful 54 species for the day. Dave Elliott-Binns