Thursday, 5 January 2017

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Bird Group

Wednesday 4 January

Interesting to read my friend David Elliott-Binns's report on his visit to Cabo de Gata today following my own visit just four days ago.  We might have found a score or more Trumpeter Finches (at the light-house) compared to the single individual seen by Dave's group but, on the other hand, they had wintering Dotterel which we failed to find despite devoting a lot of time on both days.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla de Morales: Wednesday 4th January

With the Rambla de Almanzora apparently being a no bird area at the moment, we returned to Cabo de Gata. I brought down Richard H, whilst Les chauffeured Alan, Val and Richard S. Kevin met us at the Pujaire cafe. He'd slept overnight in his camper-van and looked frozen! En route between us we'd seen Sardinian Warbler, Collared Dove, Spotless Starling House Sparrow, Kestrel & Cattle Egret. Kevin added Greenshank & Avocet...well he was parked up near the salina! After a coffee we headed to the first hide. The water level was still high with pools on both sides of the road. One contained a Redshank. There were many Greater Flamingos for change down this end of the reserve. Also seen were Avocet, Slender Billed Gulls, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Mallard & Little Egret. I spotted a Kingfisher whilst Les found an Eurasian Curlew. The Spoonbill were on their usual little island a distance away, but Alan found one hiding in full view closer to us. I saw a Gannet out to sea and Kevin spotted a Black Winged Stilt. Also seen were Yellow Legged and Lesser Black Backed Gulls.
As we arrived at the beach opposite the second hide we were met by a Spanish birder who told us about some Razorbills on the sea. Sure enough there were a small number, some close to shore. A Cormorant was also seen. On the savanna Richard H and I had spotted a Raven, but we were well & truly trumped by Alan who found three Dotterel.
Wintering Dotterel Charadrius morinellus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Dotterel ! They showed well nearby. As we walked to the hide Les spotted a large flock of Serin. A Thekla Lark was seen. I found a sunbathing Stone Curlew. Richard H found a Linnet. On the water Kevin spotted Shelduck whilst Les saw another (or the same) Kingfisher. Alan had Black Necked Grebe and I a Great White Egret. The occasional Crag Martin flew over. There were Sardinian & Dartford Warblers flitting about in the shrubs plus some Chiffchaff and Stonechats. There was a Water Pipit in the dyke. Les found a Grey Heron and Alan discovered three female Pintail. 
As previously we bypassed the public hide to look for the Trumpeter Finches but failed, but we did see more Razorbill. Returning to the public hide I had a Grey Plover and a Kentish Plover to the right of the main pool. Les & others had Greenshank, Little Stint and Redshank on the right hand lake. There were an enormous amount of Lesser Black Backed Gulls on the causeway with a small contingent of Sandwich Terns squeezed on the far end. Richard H & I left for Cabo village just missing out on a Trumpeter Finch which landed on a fence where we'd parked the cars!
Razorbills Alca Comun just of the beach at Cabo de Gata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After refreshments we travelled the beach side track to the Morales lake. We did see a group of walkers. One of the women had a Cockatiel perched on her head! Things had got worse with regards the state of the place. The muddy scrape was now a sandy beach, so no waders. There were lots of Moorhen. On one section which did have some shallow water a Kentish Plover & some Sanderling arrived. We heard a Cetti's Warbler. Then, spot of the day....Alan shouted, "Penduline Tits!". In the reeds on the far side he'd spotted movement. A group of 20 then took flight to another part of the reed bed, never to be seen again! Also seen were Magpie & Greenfinch. we returned to the vehicles, seeing a pair of Gannet out to sea. Richard & I tried to drive along the track to the campsite but the recent rains had destroyed the route.
Resting Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 56 species ( not including the Cockatiel!) A really good days birding. Thank you to Alan for being secretary. And apologies that I was not myself today.      Regards, Dave

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