Thursday 15 March 2018

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 15 March

Looks like Dave and his friends also had a good morning's birding yesterday.  Whereas we were leased with our Spotted Crake I notice that the Arboleas Birding Group had lots of swifts to our none!  And we are yet to see the first Common all seen to date being Pallid Swifts.  Thanks to Gilly for providing the excellent photographs; probably means that Dave is now looking for a new job!

Wednesday 14th March: Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales

Firstly, sorry for the delay, but my computer needed a new hard drive!  Spring is on the way so Cabo de Gata was the best option to see what migrant birds had arrived thus far.  Gilly and I picked up Richard and made our way down the E15/A7.  There were patches of sea mist as we approached Pujaire, but we still managed to spot some Common Swift.  We were joined by Alan, Les, John and Val at the cafe before making our way to the first hide.  I immediately saw the rear red end of a Bluethroat disappearing into the shrubs, never to be seen again!  We had good views of at least 3 Iberian Grey Shrike.  The water level was high so we saw mostly the larger waders, Avocet, Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit and Black Winged Stilt.  I spotted a Grey Plover and Les found some Kentish Plover nearby.  Wildfowl included Shelduck and Mallard.  A Thekla Lark showed well on the wall.  Gilly found a Yellow Wagtail.  A Zitting Cisticola showed well on a power line.  Also seen were Little Ringed Plover and Slender Billed Gull. 
Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
We moved round to the beach opposite the second hide.  Numerous Sandwich Terns were fishing close to shore.  As we walked towards the hide a solitary Red-rumped Swallow was spotted by Alan. Gilly counted 363 Greater Flamingo.  Also seen were Chiffchaff, Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Checking out to sea an adult Gannet was seen.  Alan then spotted some dark birds fishing close to shore.  Shearwaters.  We raced back to the beach to identify them as Mediterranean least 6 in total.

Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus  (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns) * Presumed Balearic Shearwater
We then headed to the public hide. There were numerous Lesser-black Backed Gulls on the causeway together with a good number of Sandwich Terns plus, Black-headed, Mediterranean, Audouin's and Slender-billed Gulls.  Small birds included Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart and Greenfinch. Dunlin were noted and I found some Black-necked Grebes.  Richard, who'd stayed by the vehicles, believed he saw some Tree Sparrows.
We then made our way to the Rambla Morales.  On the way along the beach-side track there was an obliging Lesser Short-toed Lark.  Alan also spotted some Skylark.  There was a large flock of mixed swifts and hirundines over the reeds.  These included Crag and House Martin, Barn Swallow and we believe both Common and Pallid Swifts.  Also seen were Mallard, Coot, Grey Heron, White Headed Duck and Shoveler.
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
We made our way back to the Cabo cafe.  Those that braved the cool wind were rewarded with a sighting of a Marsh Harrier coming in off the sea (from Roquetas way, not Algeria!) and more Mediterranean Shearwaters!
We ended up with 52 species, but weather was a bit chilly and the wind was northerly.
Thank you to Gilly for the photos.
Regards, Dave
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