Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Cabo de Gata with Dave & Co.

Tuesday 2 January


Well, it looks like congratulations and "Happy birthday" to both Dave and Brian who had something extra to celebrate on the arrival of the New Year.  And what better way to spend the day than birding at Cabo de Gata and start the year off with their first 43 species.  Extra special when you record both Dartford Warbler and Trumpeter Finch.   And all photographs taken by Gilly Elliott-Binns.


Cabo de Gata   -   Monday 1st January 2018

Trumpeter Finch Carpodacus erythagineus
It was my birthday yesterday and Brian Taylor's today, so we decided we'd have a birdwatch down at Cabo de Gata with a picnic on the beach as well to commiserate..sorry, celebrate our big day.  Brian and Mary drove to our house and Gilly and I drove us all down there.  We decided to do the rear of the reserve before having a coffee which was lucky because, as we passed through Pujaire, we saw our usual cafe was closed!  We'd already had White Wagtail, House Sparrow and Spotless Starling as we drove along the road past the salinas.  As we drove near the salt works, I spotted some birds on the chain link fence to our left.  They didn't look "right" as I passed.  I stopped and reversed back.  By now they were on some rough land.  Trumpeter Finches....at least 3 if not more.  What a good start to the day...no, the year!

Mary spotted a Black Wheatear.  We carried on to the rear of the reserve.  We saw the first of oh so many pairs of Stonechat, followed by 3 or four Corn Bunting.  On the water's edge we had Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and a Ruff.  We detoured up to the ruined buildings and disturbed a Black Redstart.  A covey of Red-legged Partridge flew off.  

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Getting back to the track we added Little Stint, Avocet, Black Winged Stilt and Shelduck, not to mention the Greater Flamingos!  A Thekla Lark posed well for us.  We then had good views of both Sardinian and Dartford Warblers.  On the water we found 4 Black-necked Grebe and beyond the causeway we could see Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gulls at rest.  An Iberian Grey Shrike flew past just before Mary spotted a Raven on a post.  Nearing the end of the track we flushed about 10 Stone Curlew from their usual winter area near the goat yard.  We added Greenfinch and Robin before reaching the main road.

Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
We had a refreshing coffee in the hotel on the right as you enter Cabo village and then made our way to the first hide.  Being somewhat later in the day than our usual arrival, the sun was in our eyes, but we did mange to see Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and an Eurasian Curlew.  Numerous Chiffchaff were flitting about. I spotted about 7 Spoonbill down the far end, before finding one on our nearest causeway.  I glimpsed a Marsh Harrier before it landed out of view.

One on many Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
We headed for the second hide. There was nothing out to sea.  Good breakers hitting the beach.  The high winds yesterday must have caused the waves to flow over the road in the next village as sand and pebbles were across the carriageway.  We only added Mallard and Yellow-legged Gull to the list from the hide, but we had closer views of 2 or 3 of the Spoonbill, the rest hidden behind the island.  I had a Meadow Pipit as I walked back to the truck.
We then drove through the last village to have a picnic overlooking the rocky shore line.  A sea-watch produced about 10 adult Gannet.
Suitably stuffed, we did the rear of the reserve again, seeing basically the same birds as the mornings trip apart from a Hoopoe near the hedged field. We ended with 43 species. We all enjoyed our birthday birdwatch. Wishing everybody a very good birding 2018.
Regards, Dave & Gilly (photographer of the day).

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Raven Corvus corax
The "headless" Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Male Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae


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