Cabo de Gata & Rambla de Morales: Wednesday 25th April
The plan was to go to Sierra Maria this week with some of the group, but the weather forecast was for rain so I cancelled it. As Gilly's sister was with us and they were having a girlie day sewing & crafting, I decided to try my luck down at Cabo de Gata. My theory was that any bird migrating from Algeria to Spain will fly into the rain and land at the first available bit of land, e.g. Cabo de Gata. I left home in the pouring rain and travelled the 115 kilometres in a pseudo car-wash, nicely removing the bucket load of Saharan sand which had been deposited on my truck on Monday evening. As I passed Pujaire I saw the first bird for the list, a Cattle Egret. I made my way to the far end of the reserve to check out the rear track. Luckily the rain was coming from the east, hitting the passenger side of my vehicle, so I could open my driver door window without getting soaked. The first birds I saw there were a Kentish Plover, some Ringed Plovers & a Little Stint. Further along I came across some Shelduck, Slender Billed & Mediterranean Gulls, Avocet, Curlew Sandpipers & a Greenshank. A Corn Bunting posed well. Nearing the hedge by the cultivated area, I spotted a male Marsh Harrier. I was hoping for some resting migrants in the hedge and I wasn't disappointed. A Willow Warbler, a female Pied Flycatcher & a Woodchat Shrike. I have to say the track was a tad puddle strewn and muddy, but I managed to get through.
I headed to the second hide because it had now stopped raining. From the beach I saw a group of Gull Billed Tern passing along the shore line whist some Little Tern were feeding beyond the breakers. There was an Iberian Grey Shrike in the bushes. From the hide I saw a Black Winged Stilt. A Turtle Dove flew across the steppes, closely followed by a male Golden Oriole! My first of the year and my first ever at Cabo de Gata. A Raven perched on a road sign near the beach & a Kestrel flew by. Numerous Common Swifts were chasing invisible prey.
I then headed to the lighthouse. The light was on so I assume some maintenance was going on. I only saw a Sardinian Warbler as headed up to the Vela Blanca. Once at the top I walked a short way down the track. I saw a pair of Black Wheatear. Driving back towards the lighthouse I spotted some birds to my right. Trumpeter Finches. I stopped the truck and watched them. There were about eight of them. One male in full breeding plumage landed not 6 foot from the truck to drink from a water-filled pothole in the road. Of course my window was shut. I managed to open it, but as I picked up the camera, he flew off. Heading back along the beach I saw a group of Audouin's Gull.
I then travelled along the beach-side track towards the Rambla Morales. The estuary end had Dunlin & Sanderling plus a solitary Cormorant. There were huge numbers of Common & Pallid Swifts swirling around together with House & Sand Martins and Barn & Red Rumped Swallows. A Purple Heron took off from the reeds and was struggling against the now gusty wind. On the water I found a pair of Shoveller, 26 White Headed Ducks and a single Garganey.
I heard Reed Warbler, Zitting Cisticola & Stone Curlew. I ended the list with Mallard, Blackbird & Jackdaw.
To earn brownie points, I stopped of at the pasteleria and got the girls some danish pastries. As I was leaving the heavens opened! Wow! 53 species and some very nice migrants! Regards, Dave
Ringed Slender Billed Gull
Male Black Wheatear
Female Black Wheatear or juvenile?
Someone left the light on!
Ringed Audouin's Gull
White Headed Duck
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