Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Tuesday 5 January

Tomorrow being "Kings day" and a national holiday in Spain, my friend Dave Elliott-Binns took his Arbleas Birding Group over to Caba de Gata a day early and so miss the potential crowds.  Reading Dave's report. is it not amazing that just seven days difference and almost a completely different set of birds.  Lots of birds seen by Dave and company that were not on show to me and yet I managed to actually find all those Dotterel and Trumpeter Finches.  If birding is so cyclical, then I think, perhaps, next week might be a good time for me to re-visit the site and see if I can catch up with two the two "hot-shots," Dotterel and Trumpeter Finch, for this year's bird list!

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Tuesday 5th January

It being Kings Day in Spain tomorrow I decided we'd venture out a day early this week, returning to Cabo de Gata, where my friend, Bob Wright, had an awesome time last week.  I picked Rob up at 08.00.  It was very cold with frost on Gilly's car.  I drove down the A7/E15 coming off at junction 467 where the birding list begins.  We spotted Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Blackbird and House Sparrow before we approached the first hide.  An Iberian Grey Shrike was waiting for us on a telegraph pole. We scanned the view in front of us.  The water level was down.  Greater Flamingos were in abundance.  At each hide I counted the number in each salina.  A total of 778 for the day.  Waders seen from the first hide included Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Stilts, a single Oystercatcher, a few Grey Plovers plus Kentish and Ringed Plovers.  Also seen were Shelduck and some distant Spoonbill.  Some Cormorants flew over.  At this point we were joined by John.  He'd popped up the rear track and had seen Kestrel, Black Redstart, Meadow Pipit and both Northern and Spotless Starlings.  We waited for John to do a scan before comparing notes.  He found some Bar-tailed Godwits, Little Egret, Mallard and Yellow-legged Gull.  Rob found a Redshank as well as spotting a few overflying Crag Martins.

After a cold quenching hot coffee, we drove slowly up the beach road, checking the savannah for any birds.  All we saw was a Greenfinch and a female Black Restart.  Rob spotted some Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Out to sea we saw Sandwich Terns and Gannets.  The walk to the second hide produced Chiffchaff and Thekla Lark.  At the hide we had a better view of the Spoonbills.  There were 18 in all, many with rings on.  John found some Slender-billed Gulls.  On the walk back a male Sardinian Warbler showed well.

Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia with both Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (PHOTO: Davis Elliott-Binns)

We then drove very slowly up the roadside track searching for Dotterel and Trumpeter Finch (as seen by Bob last week).  Nada, nothing.  There were lots of cyclists going up and down the road. 
We walked to the middle hide.  We added Stonechat on the way.  Nothing new from the hide.  Saw Redshank, Shelduck and Dunlin.

The public hide  produced much of the same.  I counted the row of Cormorants on the causeway; 220! John found a small raft of Black-necked Grebes.  We left via the church track, following some cyclists so didn't see anything at all.  Driving slowly back along the beach road we still didn't see any Dotterel, but did see a flying Raven.

We then headed towards the Rambla Morales.  En-route I spotted a flock of small birds on the right hand savannah.  Got out for a better view.  Lesser Short Toed Larks, 50 of them!  We reached the parking area.  Didn't bother with the estuary end as a couple of cyclists were walking past it.  We walked down to the hump.  We flushed a Grey Heron.  We struggled to find three Mallard, one Moorhen and a Little Grebe.

Our final bird was a Hoopoe on the way back to the motorway.  We ended up with 43 species.  A bit disappointed with the day's birding but that's the way it goes sometimes!  One Stonechat, 2 Chiffchaff, no Avocets, Dotterel or Trumpeter finches.  Thank you Rob & John for the good company.

Regards, Dave

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