Sunday, 4 February 2018

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Sunday 4 February

Dave's report for his most recent Arboleas Birding Group visit came as we were relaxing at the Kegworth Hotel last night trying to make sure that we would be awke, up and dressed, in the taxi and at the airport in time for the 6am flight back to Malaga.  Of course we were!  Now comes all the catching up on what has been going on and thoroughly enjoyed reading Dave's report as our Axarquia Bird Group will be visiting Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar this coming Wednesday followed by an overnight stop at Cabo de Gata so that we, too, can enjoy the fabulous scenery and, hopefully, bird life.

Take a look at the fabulous shots of the Kentish Plover and Dave even had a first Spectacled Warbler and Great Spotted Cuckoo!  Got even better when I read the final sentence so, perhaps, just as well that we will not be turning up until the following day!

Cabo de Gata & Rambla de Morales: Saturday 3rd February

Male Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Well, a bonus for me this week as Paul asked me if I could take him and Neville to Cabo de Gata before he returned to the UK after his holiday.  Being the obliging chap I am, how could I refuse?  I picked them up at Los Gallardos and we made our way to the cafe in Pujaire, run by a cheerful chappie called Manolo, for a coffee before commencing the birdwatching.  After the seriously cold winds of yesterday it was great to be out in the sunshine with only a breeze to contend with.  In fact we had to shed clothing it was so warm.  We left the cafe and made our way along the beachside road.  Our first spot was a pair of Raven flying low over the savannah.  We then took the track which goes round the rear of the reserve.  We encountered the usual array of small birds.  Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Crested Lark and Meadow Pipit.   The first occupied salina we came upon had Kentish and Ringed Plover plus some Dunlin.  An adult male Kentish Plover in breeding plumage showed well.  Moving on we found a few Redshank and a number of Shelduck. Paul then spotted one of his target birds of the day, a Dartford Warbler.  Saw 3-4 during the day.  A single immature Greater Flamingo was seen.  The vast numbers of its siblings and elders were only over the other side of the embankments.  Paul spotted a perched Kestrel on a shrub and I found a Iberian Grey Shrike up on the power lines.  On the waters edge we saw Avocet, Black Winged Stilt and Sanderling.  A few Crag Martins were flying around.  We were checking out another Dartford warbler, when another warbler flew up to pose, distantly, on a shrub.  A Spectacled Warbler.  We ended our rear excursion with a Thekla Lark.
When then stopped at the first hide outside Pujaire. The water level was high so there were no muddy shore lines for the smaller waders to feed on.  We saw 3 Black Tailed Godwit in the water and some Avocet and Dunlin on the causeway resting.  The only other tick was a pair of Mallard.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove to the beach and parked opposite the second hide.  There was nowt out to sea which was reasonably calm.  We got to the hide seeing a splendid male Greenfinch in his full glory.  A search of the savannah didn't find any Stone Curlew, another of Paul's target birds.  A Cormorant flew in from the sea.  On the islands in the salina were some Yellow-legged Gulls.  There was only one Spoonbill seen.  Paul spotted a Grey Heron on the right hand causeway with a Black-necked Grebe diving close by.  He then found a Robin.  Lots of Stonechat and Chiffchaff still around.  A Sardinian Warbler was also seen.
It was then on to the Public Hide.  Again the high water levels deterred smaller waders.  The area was inundated with Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  We saw a single Black-headed Gull fly past.  I counted 62 Cormorant at rest on the left hand causeway.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then decided to do the Rambla de Morales before having luncheon.  The drive along the beach side track didn't produce anything and the brackish didn't look hopeful either.  We walked down to the hump which gives better views.  There was a small flock of Greater Flamingos.  Opposite in the reed line we found some Shoveler, Mallard and a Teal.  Further down the lake were 6 White-headed Duck, 3 of each sex, plus a single male Common Pochard.  There were a few Coot.  I spotted a male Wigeon together with 2 females.  I scanned out to sea and found an adult Gannet.  A largish bird then flitted in the bushes back up the track.  A Great Spotted Cuckoo briefly showed itself before returning to the undergrowth.  We gingerly walked up the track hoping to get a photo, but it flew low over the scrubland and behind us.  Our first one of the year!
Another look at the lovely Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Great days birding in good company. 45 species in all, the highlights being the Spectacled Warbler and the Great Spotted Cuckoo. Bet you can't guess where the group are going on Wednesday?
Regards, Dave

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