Sunday 17 February 2019

Cabo de Gata

Saturday 16 February

Even windier than yesterday for the monthly meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society at Cabo de Gata but, even so, eighteen members present to check out the salinas, lighthouse area and rambla.  On the other hand, the very strong winds and arrival of four coach loads of visitors to the lighthouse with the former resulting in most small birds seeking whatever shelter they could find, did result in fewer species and totals than expected and the meeting finishing earlier at about 20.30 with those members staying on for the evening to revisit some of the sites covered during the morning.

Starting at the first hide as the road approached the village, in addition to the Spotless Starlings and Flamingos out on the choppy water we did manage to find a single Grey Plover, a Redshank and a small number of Dunlin before heading off to the Public Hide at the far end of the salinas.  here we managed to add a couple of Little Stints and Sanderling as well as seeing more Flamingos and Dunlins. A Shelduck was hiding below the bank in front of the hide and we had chance to look at the mixed flock of Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls. Driving back to the road, in addition to the Sky Lark we picked up on the way in we added a handful of meadow Pipits.

Crested Lark Cogujada Comun Galerida cristata

Arriving at the road before the lighthouse turn round we settled down to find the local Trumpeter Finches.  Lots of Spotted Starlings, then both Black Redstart and Crested Lark.  Even a Black Wheatear before the Trumpeter Finch was spotted almost in front of us. It crossed the road, passing a Thekla Lark on the way, and proceeded to feed at its leisure alongside a Crested Lark and completely oblivious to the nine of us watching the bird.

Trumpeter Finch Camachuelo Trompetero Bucanetes githagineus

Then it was back over them mountain to take the back track around the salinas.  We were soon encountering hundreds of sheltering gulls; a mixed bag of Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged but also at least thirty Audouin's GullsShelduck numbered a score and at least thirty Avocet recorded.  Whilst the Cormorants were inactive in the distance we did see a foraging Kentish Plover and Little Stint at the water's edge.  The final species was a handful of Black-winged Stilts before stopping at the hide.

Audouin's Gulls Gaviota de Audouin Larus audoinii
All very quiet here but no sooner had we moved on than we stopped as a pair of Red-legged Partridge crossed the track in front of us.  Whilst trying to find the birds for those in the following cars, one individual plus a Stone Curlew took off to our right.  At about this point we also came across John and Jenny travelling in the opposite direction who had seen a flock of twenty plus Stone Curlews taking of to fly to the other (sea) side of the salina.  Reguar sightings of Stonechats then a stop to watch a Hoopoe in front of us and whilst looking also found the Collared Dove resting low in a tree and almost on the ground whilst above it a Greenfinch was feeding.  Before re-starting a single Raven flew close by and a Northern Wheatear put in an appearance.  Our final bird on this track was an Iberian Grey Shrike on a fence in front of the first farm.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo watched over by Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis
Back through the village to take the track along the beach to the rambla.  But immediately we had, as well as House Sparrows, a single Curlew on the grass to our right.  Once at the rambla lots of water but no sign of the reported Great Northern Diver on the sea at this point.  There were, however, a small number of Kentish Plover on the edge of the river.  Up on the little raised land to get a better look at the water, we soon found both Mallard and Shoveler along with a Coot.  But pride of place probably went to the half-dozen Wigeon.  A Black-necked Grebe was also recorded and then the handful of White-headed Ducks and a couple of Moorhen.  A Little Grebe was feeding at the back of the water almost into the reeds and overhead we had both House Martin and Barn Swallows quickly followed by a number of Crag Martins.  It certainly seemed odd to find one sunbathing Cormorant in the company of a couple of Cattle Egrets.

Wigeon Silbon Europeo Anas penelope

Finally, whilst awaiting the following two cars to catch us up as we turned back inland to reach the village, A Trumpeter Finch, landed on the track and quietly getting out of the car to get a better look and take a photograph, we noticed that it had been joined by two others.  This was to be our last sighting for the day but, meanwhile, Derek and company had had close views of a Spectacled Warbler at the back of the salinas and John and Jenny managed to also see Black-tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Goldfinch and Magpie to take the day's final total up to a very credible minimum of 52 species given the prevailing windy weather.  And despite the wind, I think we all had a most enjoyable day's birding.

Trumpeter Finches Camachuelo Trompetero Bucanetes githagineus

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Flamingo, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Spectacled Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Golfinch, Trumpeter Finch.

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