Wednesday 18 January 2023

Cabo de Gata without the Arboleas Birding Group!

 Wednesday 18 January

Smile or not, a very different report from the Arboleas Birding Group this week as will be seen by Dave's comment and the "actual report" from Kevin, aka Billy No Mates!  Whilst weather took a drastic turn for the worse, Keven had actually already departed to Cabo de Gata in his campervan and so did not received the "All cancelled" message.  Like a good trooper, or should that be birder, Kevin nevertheless upped and did a tour end on his won and even sent in a report to let the others know what they had missed.  Many thanks Kevin.  Less than a handful of Flamingos rather than scores but Little Stint, Curlew and Southern Grey Shrike are always a delight to see.

Hi all,

Due to high winds and overnight rain ( Snow on the Calar Alto) I sent out an early morning message to postpone our visit to Cabo de Gata.  As Kevin (aka Billy no mates!) was staying in his campervan overnight, he didn't get the message.  He had a good time though.  Here is his report!

Hi Dave,

I thought you might like this (below and also attached, with three photos). Feel free to send it out if you wish.

Hope to see you next week!


Cabo de Gata 18th January 2023

I coasted into the silent streets of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata at 8pm on Tuesday evening, to be met with the sight of seven wild boar just to my left.  I stopped and watched as they snuffled and foraged, then I found a quiet street to park up and watched as at least seven of them ran past the end of the road. As for human inhabitants, no sign.

The Wild Boars of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata (PHOTO: Kevin using mobile) 

Even though I was in a sheltered spot, the howling wind rocked the van all night.  I was up in good time, eager to drive the few kilometres to Torregarc√≠a, where Dave had reported a Desert Wheatear a few days ago.  I could find no sign of it, though the stunning clear light on the angry sea made up for it. The remains of the Roman salt factory, the watch-tower and the domed hermitage were all lit superbly by the low sun’s rich golden light.

The deserted Hermitage at Torregarcia (PHOTO: Kevin using mobile)

Back at the Lay-by Hide soon after 9am, it was a relief to see water in the lagoon after the recent news that the inlet channel had finally been repaired.  The gale made holding the bins and the scope steady quite a challenge but I logged Greater Flamingo (just one), Spoonbill, Yellow-legged Gull, Southern Grey Shrike, Shelduck, Spotless Starling and Redshank.

On route to the Steppe Hide, I clocked a Curlew.  Near the hide I met two workmen and asked them if it was true that everything was now sorted and things would be returning to normal. “Yes,” one of them said, “everything is normal.  There’s a flamingo opposite the hide.”  He was right.  Another single flamingo.  The gale was even stronger at this exposed viewpoint.  Nothing else new.

On to the Original Hide, where the good news was that the turn-off from the road to the track has been re-graded so it’s less of a precipice now.  At the hide, the view was of some shallow water and lots of exposed mud.  New species here were limited to Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kentish Plover and Dunlin.  The lagoon to the right was still totally dry and birdless.  The track from there to the church produced nothing.

I drove on to La Fabriquilla to check the situation.  All the lagoons at that end are still dry, ditto the ones behind the intermediate village of La Almadraba de Monteleva.  As I retraced my steps, the sea to my left was spectacularly wild.  Apart from a few gulls being tossed about by the gale, my impression was that most birds were sensibly keeping their heads down.  I stopped again at the Lay-by Hide and managed to find Audouin’s Gull, Stonechat and Little Stint.  Four of the latter in the company of a single Dunlin provided a good size comparison.

Lagoons behind Almadrada de Monteleva still dry (PHOTO: Kevin using mobile)

In the circumstances I gave the other options, the lighthouse in one direction and Rambla Morales in the other, a miss.

Various factors – the habitat still not fully restored, the ferocious wind and the limited skills of the observer – meant the bird list was very modest.  Hopefully we’ll be back next week when less wind and more water should improve the situation.  Nevertheless it was an enjoyable few hours in scintillating company.

I forgot my camera, so no bird photos, though I took some on my phone, of which three are attached. When I got home and checked emails I saw Dave’s message to say the outing was cancelled.  I was happy to have gone, though!

Billy No-Mates

As I said, what a trooper!

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