Wednesday 3 October 2018

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 3 October

Good to know that whilst I am back for a fortnight in the UK Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group are still exploring some of the best sites in Andalucia.  And look what I am missing; Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Wryneck, Sparrowhawk and Pintail to name but a handful.  Which ever way you look at it, 70 species is a cracking total for a day's birding so I must hurry up and get back to Spain,.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:Wednesday 3rd October

After a week away working in Almeria, it was good to be back home.  Today Alec and I were heading for Cabo de Gata.  On the way we stopped in Retamar where some new friends, Sue and David, had come across a Wryneck last weekend.   Sure enough, not one, but two Wryneck were feeding on the ground.  A Spotted Flycatcher was feeding from a nearby branch.  Also seen were House Sparrow , Collared Dove and Blackbird.
Wryneck Jynx torquilla (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then headed for the Pujaire cafe where we met up with now slightly envious Les, Alan, John and Kevin!  On the way the "formers" had seen Kestrel, Iberian Grey Shrike, Thekla Lark and Jackdaw. After a coffee we made for the first hide.  As usual there were numerous Greater Flamingo and Slender-billed Gulls.  Near the rocky causeway were some Black-tailed Godwit.  Kevin found an Eurasian Curlew and some Black -winged Stilt near to the distant second hide.  We also had Little Egret, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Avocet, Redshank and the now long staying Oystercatcher which was on the causeway.  Near it was a Yellow-legged Gull and a juvenile Gull-billed Tern.  Barn Swallows and later Red-rumped Swallows were passing through.  On the savannah fencing I found a Northern Wheatear and a Greenfinch.  Nearby was a Sardinian Warbler and Stonechat.  I then spotted a female Sparrowhawk climbing and then stooping downwards, but obviously failing to secure breakfast.  It gained height again to be joined by a male.
Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber with accompanying Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved onto the second hide from which we saw large groups of Avocet amongst the Greater Flamingos.  A Marsh Harrier flew by.  Also seen were a Grey Heron and some Shelduck, found by John.  I heard a distant Raven and sure enough, on our way to the public hide there were a pair near the road.
Raven Corvus corax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
As we arrived Alan and John glimpsed a Dartford Warbler.  As well as more Shelduck, we saw Mallard and Shoveler.  Les ran down the list of waders seen..  Dunlin, Little Stint, Sanderling, Kentish and Ringed Plover, Avocet, Redshank and Greenshank.  On the rocky causeway to the right were Sandwich Terns and Yellow-legged Gulls.  John found a definite Lesser Black-backed Gull.  I found a long line of Black-necked Grebe.   Finally adding a White Wagtail, we adjourned for elevenses to the nearby seafront cafe where we sea-watched in comfort.  I spotted a Cormorant swimming near to a buoy.  Then further out a line of about 6 Balearic Shearwaters heading south.  A few Audouin's Gull flew out to sea.
We then convoyed to the Rambla Morales, Les and co seeing a Kestrel on the way.  There were numerous Coot at the estuary end, but no waders.  Overhead Barn Swallows, House and Sand Martins flocked.  I then spotted a Booted Eagle.  Later a dark phase individual flew over us causing a bit of identity confusion till we saw its back patterning!
Female Pintail Anas acuta (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Les found a pair of Whinchat.  Someone else (or Les) found a Great White Egret.  On the water we had White-headed Duck, Shoveler, Teal, Common Pochard and a female Pintail plus a Moorhen and Little Grebe.  As we returned to the vehicles we saw about 4 Yellow Wagtails by the estuary and a Black-tailed Godwit.  Les, Alan and John had a Black-eared Wheatear on the journey to our lunchtime cafe.  Kevin plumped for a swim instead! 
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Predictably we returned to the Wryneck site on the way home.  Unfortunately for Les, Alan and John there was no sign, but the Spotted Flycatcher performed well.  We added Serin and Goldfinch.  Les found Olivacious Warbler, Black Redstart and Robin.  We could hear the Monk Parakeets.  A Hoopoe completed the list.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
A great days birding in good company. 70 species in total !
Regards, Dave

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