Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales

 Wednesday 2 September

Looks like I was not the only one out birding this morning a the following report has just arrived from friend Dave Elliott-Binns informing me of the Arboleas Birding Group's first outing of the new season with a visit to Cabo de Gata and the Rambla Morales.  And they certainly found more birds than I did at the Guadalhorce in Malaga!

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 2nd September

Dotterel Charadrius morinellus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

For our first official trip of the autumn, I decided to go to Cabo de Gata.  I picked up Rob and then Juda at Los Gallardos.  We travelled south in bright sunshine with numerous clouds.  After coming off the motorway at Jct 467 we commenced our list.  By the time we'd reached the first hide we clocked Woodchat Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe and an Iberian Grey Shrike spotted by Rob.
I started to scan the salina in front of the hide, seeing Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, a single Avocet, Slender-billed Gulls and Mallard.  There seemed to be many hundreds of Greater Flamingos. 

At this point we were joined by John, Trevor, Kevin and his wife, Troy.  Troy only comes out occasionally but when she does we always seem to have a very good days birding.  I next spotted a Great White Egret on the far side with some Grey Heron.  A Zitting Cisticola flew by as did Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, House Martins and Common Swifts.  There were a few Black-tailed Godwit and a Ringed Plover.  John added a Kestrel, a distant Little Tern and a Blackbird.  Also seen were Collared Dove, Spotless Starling and a couple more Iberian Grey Shrike.

A coffee break at the cafe by Cabo village roundabout added a House Sparrow.  We made our way to the second hide.  John had some Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach.  The Sea Daffodils were mostly passed their best, but one looked stunning.  From the hide I found two sleeping Spoonbills by the little island.  An Iberian Grey Shrike was seen by the track fence, but more interestingly there was a female Black-eared Wheatear close by.  Also seen were Sardinian Warbler and Thekla Lark.

Sea Daffodil Pancratium maritimum (PHOTODavid Elliott-Binns)

We convoyed up the road to the middle hide track.  From there we found a raft of 30 odd Black-necked Grebes plus a huge, 150 strong, flock of resting Avocet.  John identified a Spotted Redshank and Trevor found a Whimbrel.  I spotted a Yellow Wagtail flying along the shrubs.  John found a couple of Curlew Sandpipers on the side pool.  We began to walk back to the vehicles which were parked the other side of the beach road.  Kevin and Troy were leading the way when they flushed three low flying waders.  They landed on the savannah beyond the cars.  Couldn't believe it....three Dotterels.  Never seen them here this early!

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus (PHOTODavid Elliott-Binns)

We moved onto the public hide.  Kevin thought he heard a Skylark.  From the hide I found a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, followed by an Eurasian Curlew on one of the islands.  Kevin found a second one.  John checked out the water and rocky causeway to the right.  He added Sandwich Tern, Little Stint and Turnstone.  He also had a White Wagtail from the hide.  We had a look at the right hand water, Troy finding a Sanderling.  John found a Willow Warbler in the shrubs.  A second bird was there...a Garden Warbler!  Also seen was a Black-headed Gull and Audouin's Gull.  Leaving by the church track, we only saw three Thekla Larks on the fence.

Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We drove back along the road to Cabo village and then onto the beach side track leading to Rambla Morales.  Saw some Common Swifts, but not much else.  We parked up.  There were three immature Greater Flamingos at the estuary.  We walked down to the hump.  As we arrived there were two Honey Buzzards soaring above us.  On the water were half a dozen or so female Shovelers and some Coot. Kevin found a Moorhen.  We were about to leave when John shouted, "What's that?"  Our final bird on the list turned out to be a female Montagu's Harrier!  A brilliant bird to end a great days birding in great company. Troy can come anytime she wants!  We ended with 56 species.
 A fab start to the autumn!
Regards, Dave

Wonderful day David and especially seeing the Dotterel, Honey Buzzards and Montagu's Harrier.  Like you, I also had a Willow Warbler this morning but no Honey Buzzard on show at the Guadalhorce, just Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon.

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