Friday 14 September 2018

Cabo de Gata with dave Elliott-Binns

Friday 14 September

Looks like Dave did nor get enough birding in yesterday as he was back out again this morning to make the trip down to Cabo de Gata, a place I have yet to visit at this time of the year.  Whist I would certainly have enjoyed the birding I am certainly not so sure about all the hiking up and down the steep hills - even to see the selection of raptors.  For me, I am placing my money on seeing Dotterel on their return journey next February/March when I , probably, next visit Cabo de Gata.

Cabo de Gata   -   Friday 14th September 2018

Today I made a private visit to Cabo de Gata to combine birdwatching and keeping fit.  I left home before dawn and it was my intention to try and find the newly arrived Dotterels as reported last week. I went to the likely sites.  There were numerous Common Swifts and Barn Swallows flying over but alas no sign of the Dotterels.  They could easily have been there, but the area was festooned with flowering Sea Daffodils!  I then checked out the savannah near the public hide with the same result (minus the flowers!).  Barrie had seen some Trumpeter Finches nearby recently, so I followed the track beside the chain-link fence towards the church.  I saw a female Stonechat and a female Black Eared Wheatear plus Greenfinch, Thekla Lark and Collared Dove. 

Female Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hisanica (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I made my way down to the far end of the reserve and navigated the track round the rear.  Recent rains made it muddy and wet in places.  There was a small group of Audouin's Gulls at rest.  Slender-billed Gulls were feeding in the salinas.  Waders included Kentish and Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Avocet and a few Curlew Sandpipers.  Some Shovelers had arrived to join the resident Mallards and Shelducks.  As I reached the hedge beside the planted field a young Sparrowhawk flew in 10 metre stints as I "pushed" him/her towards the end.  It then circled behind the truck grimly hanging on to its deceased prey.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I then drove towards the lighthouse.  I turned left towards the steep hill heading towards San Jose.  I parked at the bottom of the hill and commenced the walk upwards. 

View from half way up the hill. Truck bottom right!
(PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
An Iberian Grey Shrike was perched on a power line as I left the truck.  There only other birds I saw on the ascent was a covey of Red-legged Partridge, a Black Wheatear and a Sardinian Warbler.  Once at the peak I walked down the other side probably for about 2 kilometres.  About half way down I saw a bird of prey high above me, stationary in the easterly wind.  A Black Kite.  Next I saw a pair of high flying Raven.  After elevenses of a banana and drink, I began the second ascent of the day.  After seeing a female Blue Rock Thrush flying across the valley, things began to get exciting.  Looking up I saw 3 adult Booted Eagles.  Below them was a Peregrine Falcon gliding north.  Minutes later there were 4 Honey Buzzards being harassed by, presumably, a second Peregrine.  The excitement may have been short, but it was very sweet!  I completed the ascent followed by the descent to the truck. As I drove back towards the lighthouse road, I saw another female Black-eared Wheatear.

Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
29 species in all, but some crackers in there.  Back to Cabo on Wednesday next with the group, weather permitting!  Lovely day.  Fitness regime going well. Lost 16kg so far.
Regards, Dave

Black Kite Milvus migrans in silhouette (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

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