Saturday 26 August 2017

Saturday 26 August

back in the UK and weather has been very kind to us to date and a fine week-end ahead with very warm temperatures.  Rain forecast for Wednesday and Thursday but that coincides with our return to Spain so no problem there.  Off to Rutland Water at least once before I return so can try out, maybe, the new scope/hone adaptor which at least will cut down on weight to be carried.  meanwhile, my friend Dave Elliott-Binns has been off to Cabo de Gata once again and is copied below for your perusal and enjoyment.

Cabo de Gata and Rambla de Morales
Friday 25th August

A close birding friend of mine suggested it might be too hot to visit Cabo de Gata at this time of year but here I was with a new birdwatcher, Lily, heading in that direction.  Luckily for us there was a cloudy-ish sky above us so the temperature at 9.30 was moderate.  We'd already seen the usual common suspects before reaching the Pujaire cafe for a coffee.  Once refreshed we headed for the first hide.  We were astonished to see a young lady in a short black dress over the fence, close to the water, attempting to take a flamingo photo on her i-phone.  The Greater Flamingos were having none of it and moved slowly away.  She didn't seem to have disturbed the Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits and Black Winged Stilts one iota.  On the rocky causeway was a line of Black Headed Gulls with the odd Slender Billed as well.  Best bird here was a fly past by a Gull Billed Tern.  We also saw Grey Heron and Little Egret.  The only wildfowl we saw were Mallard and a single Shelduck.  Over on the steppes we found a pair of Iberian Grey Shrike.  On the floating weeds in front of us (now the photographer had gone!) we found an Iberian race Yellow Wagtail.  We also had White Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and a Ringed Plover.  The only hirundines we saw were a few Barn Swallow.
We then moved on towards the second hide.  Lots of tourists parked up adjacent to the beach.  A quick sea-watch only revealed a few Yellow Legged Gulls following a fishing boat.  As we approached the hide we saw a Melodious Warbler atop one of the large bushes to the left.  There was also another warbler flitting around the same bush.  I thought it was a Spectacled Warbler but, having looked at the photos, I now think it was a Whitethroat.  Either would be good!  We also had Sardinian Warbler and Crested Lark.  We added nothing to the list on the water till a flock of 24 Shoveler flew in.  What with the warblers, I believe the autumn migration has commenced.
Certainly looks like a Whitethroat Sylvia communis to me (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Surprisingly we were alone at the public hide.  We added a Kestrel and a Thekla Lark as we approached.  We checked the right-hand causeway first.  The sun was against us and we were now getting heat haze, but I managed to spot at least one Common Tern amongst the line of Sandwich Tern.  Nothing new from the hide itself apart from about 50 Black Necked Grebe.

Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Lily had never been to the lighthouse so we did our tourist bit with the hundreds of others.  Lucky to find a parking space at the " roundabout".   Looking down the cliff to the left of the lighthouse the sea was littered with 50+ canoes so no chance of birdlife amongst the rocks.  Only saw the odd Yellow Legged Gull passing by.
Sea Dragon plant (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns) Related to the leafy Seadragon or Glauert's Seadragon Phycodurus eques?
As we were in my 4x4 we headed round the rear of the reserve.  We checked out some 50 odd gulls on the first salina.  Audouin's Gulls including one which had come in contact with some oil pollution. A Black Wheatear made a fleeting appearance.  Above as well as Barn Swallows we saw Common Swift and Red Rumped Swallows.  At the dilapidated hide, for a change, some Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Greater Flamingos were close by so we stopped for a photo shoot.  The only other bird added to the list was a Zitting Cisticola. 

"Oily" Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
It was time for lunch so we went to our usual cafe on Cabo village seafront.  Loads of sunbathers so no birds....with feathers!  Having eaten, we drove along the beachside track to Rambla Morales. Vehicles were parked virtually all the way along the track and also filled our usual parking spot.  So it was birding from the truck, a blessing as the temperature had risen considerably.  There was a large flock of resting Black Headed Gulls.  We saw a couple of Grey Heron, some Coot and Moorhen and a single Common Pochard.  Also there were numerous Mallard, some Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. A Common Sandpiper was also seen.   The track back via the campsite had had some much needed repairs to it.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We saw 41 species in all.  I think Lily enjoyed her day; I certainly did.
Regards, Dave

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

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