Thursday, 15 September 2016

Arboleas Group visit to Cabo de Gata

A "fencing Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Wednesday 14 September

Seems like another great visit by the Arboleas Bird Group, this time to Cabo de Gata and thanks to Dave for the report.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales
Wednesday 14th September 

(Photographs by David Elliott-Binns)

Early morning reflecting sunlight on arrival
As Gilly & I were travelling down to Cabo de Gata on our own, we set off early to check out the rear of the reserve, the track being only suitable for 4x4s. We got there just after 8am. The sun had not yet risen above the mountains but it just managed to catch the church. We'd spotted Audouin's Gulls flying along the beach towards the lighthouse. We didn't stop to scan the large number of resting gulls on the beach itself. As before there was no water in the closest salinas, but major production was taking place near the village. Gilly spotted a small warbler to our right. We stopped, turned off the engine and waited. Eventually a couple of Spectacled Warblers showed themselves. Carrying on we added Iberian Grey Shrike and Greenfinch before a very obliging Whinchat fence hopped in front of us. By the cultivated field we saw a Willow Warbler, Red Rumped Swallow & numerous Barn Swallows. We then headed to the Pujaire cafe meeting point.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
We were joined by Rod, John & Richard. After a couple of coffees while catching up, we made our way to the first hide. Apart from numerous Greater Flamingo (Gilly later counted 578) there were small numbers of Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Little Stint & Common Sandpiper. There was one Black Winged Stilt and Gilly spotted a Stonechat. I was first to spot the female Marsh Harrier. We then added Spotted Redshank & Curlew Sandpiper, the latter of which flew to a water-filled gully. The harrier reappeared, quartering towards us & the unsuspecting Curlew Sandpiper. From only a few feet the harrier corkscrewed down, just missing its intended prey. Rod found a female Eurasian Curlew. I managed to spot a single Sand Martin. Also seen were Mallard, Grey Heron & Little Egret.

Female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus "spiralling down" to find breakfast
Moving towards the second hide we briefly stopped by the previously mentioned flock of resting gull. Mostly Yellow Legged, but John found a few Lesser Black Backs. At this point I'll give you a weather report. Sunny with clouds. A lot cooler, thank god! Gusty westerly wind. Sea state choppy. Not good for migrating birds unless they want to go via Italy!

Possible Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis?
Good for us though as a few were hunkering down near the hide. Firstly Gilly found a juvenile Woodchat Shrike (late?). A Dartford Warbler was seen (resident). Gilly then found a warbler, got a quick photo for ID later. I might be wrong, but think it's a Western Orphean Warbler. No doubt someone will put me right! As we were about to leave Richard spotted a bird of prey above us just as it passed in front of the sun...doesn't it always happen that way. He thinks it was a Booted Eagle.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
As we arrived at the public hide parking area, Gilly spotted a Northern Wheatear perched on the vehicle barrier. From the hide we added Shelduck, Avocet, Dunlin, Ringed & Kentish Plover, Sanderling & Greenshank. Gilly spotted a Turnstone. John found about half a dozen Sandwich Terns on the causeway. There were lots of waders about but they were a distance away & the heat haze was problematic. With all the good rare waders seen at El Fondo lately, we could have missed loads! I managed to get a decent shot of a Dragonfly. My insect book doesn't give its identity.

A quartet of Green sandpipers Tringa ochropus
After a hearty lunch in Cabo village, we drove along the beach-side track to Rambla Morales. It was in the local freeby paper last week as hundreds of dead Grayling were discovered. Tests proved that they had died of oxygen deficiency.

Sure enough the water was very green. There were some Greater Flamingos, a few Coot & Mallard. I saw one male White Headed Duck. A small flock of little birds drinking by the beach turned out to be Barn Swallows. We walked back to the cars and said our goodbyes. With our 4x4 we made our way towards the campsite. At the end of the rambla, where the crossover used to be we found a small gathering of Green Sandpipers. Meanwhile John & Richard saw a Kestrel near Pujaire. In total we had 52 species. Lots of waders but in small number and a few migrants. A very good day. Bob Wright is kindly adding my report to the Birding Axarquia blog

Name this dragonfly - presumably a female

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