Monday 18 September 2017

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales with Dave

Sanderling Calidris alba (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Sunday 17 September

Whilst I was busy recovering from the week-end's exploits, I see Dave came up with the old excuse to get himself out of the house and off for a little birding.  But there are only so many occasions when you can get away with it, David!  Notwithstanding, I trust you both have a fabulous visit back to Blighty and, upon your return, discover that masses of wintering migrants have arrived.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales
Sunday 17th September

You know how it is. Gilly had lots to do preparing for our forthcoming trip to the UK, so it was best if I got out of the way! 
I was up early and headed south towards Cabo de Gata.  By the time I was passing Pujaire, I'd already clocked up 5 species the more notable being Jackdaws and a couple of flights of Yellow-legged Gulls presumably heading for some rubbish dump inland.  I drove to the far end of the reserve with the intention of doing the rear track first.  As I was downing a cup of thermos coffee a young ( I think)
Juvenile Thekla Lark Galerida thekklae? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
 Thekla Lark perched on a nearby fence. (Note...Using my DSLR camera and Telephoto lens today for a change!).  There was a bit of water on the first salina.   There were numerous Slender-billed Gulls at rest, together with Kentish and Ringed Plover.  Barn Swallows flew low over the pools and a Yellow Wagtail flitted on the edges.  The next salina added some Greater Flamingos.  I drove up to the abandoned farm buildings ever hopeful for a Little Owl.  Failed again, but I did hear and see a Red-legged Partridge.  Went back down to the track where it got with a few metres of the waters edge.  The small waders there, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin , were unfazed by the large 4x4 parking next to them.  It was around this time I was joined by numerous mosquitoes hungry for breakfast.  I  unwittingly obliged although some of them won't be having lunch!  I saw the first Chiffchaff of the day feeding from the adjacent wire fence.  At the dilapidated hide I added Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Redshank.  A Common Swift flew by.  On the power lines I found an Iberian Grey Shrike.  Further along I spotted a Greenshank on the waters edge.  I then saw a small bird fly off to the right into the sun.  It perched like a "chat".  I'm positive I made out a white supercilium, so I put it down as a Whinchat.  Nearing the hedged field a Sardinian Warbler flew to the left and disappeared into a shrub.  I waited to hear its call but nothing.  The reason was probably the low flying female Sparrowhawk just missing the stationary truck!.  My last bird, before joining the tarmac was a White Wagtail.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
I then drove to the first hide.  Was harried by the Sparrowhawk again!  A scan revealed Mallard and Grey Heron amongst the already logged Avocet and Black-winged Stilt.  The rocky causeway was virtually empty apart from a Little Egret and a Yellow-legged Gull.  Nearly hidden, I just spotted the head of a Little Tern.  It moved so the body was attached!  A late Sand Martin flew past.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
A brief sea-watch opposite the second hide didn't disturb the scorer!  A Greenfinch was perched on a shrub as a Sandwich Tern headed inland.  There was a kerfuffle in the largest treelike shrub.  Three Hoopoe were having a ding dong.  From the hide I added a Kestrel.  There was a Common Sandpiper in the dyke.
Married Hoopoes Upupa epops having a row (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving to the public hide I did a count of the Black-necked Grebe.  There were 89.  One of you bright sparks will know the equation regarding  the number of grebes on the surface compared to the number underwater!  Also seen were 9 Black-tailed Godwit.  I attempted to check out the rock causeway to the right, but immediately got attacked by a swarm of mosquito so gave up.  As I was leaving I heard squawking high above me . A young Yellow-legged Gull was chasing an adult Audouin's Gull with the intention of robbery.  By pure chance a Pallid Swift flew past the protagonists!  Heading towards Cabo village I spotted a female Northern Wheatear on the steppes. No sign of the reported Dotterel sadly.
Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta with Slender-billed Gulls Larus gebei in the middle (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Still having Thermos coffee left, I headed directly to the Rambla Morales.  I didn't check out the beach end as a cyclist in green psychedelic gear was having a rest there.  On the water and its edges, I found a small group of mostly female White-headed Duck, more Mallard and a few Teal plus Coot and Moorhen.  As well as a few Greater Flamingo and Black-headed Gull, a single Red-rumped Swallow and 3 Little Tern flew over.  Then it was back home for a late lunch.
Juvenile Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Apart from the numerous mosquito bites, it was a good days birding. 47 species in all.
Regards, Dave
Dunlin Calidris alpina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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