Thursday, 19 September 2019

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 19 September

The second of this month's visits by the Arboleas Birding Group.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:  Wednesday 11th September

Gilly & I headed south down the A7/E15 towards Cabo de Gata. We came off the motorway at junction 467, heading towards Retamar Sur. About a kilometre down the road we saw about 6 medium sized raptors to our right. We were unfortunately unable stop as I had a car close behind me. Possibly either Black Kite or Honey Buzzards? Hopefully a good omen for the days birding. Wind from the north has to be good for this time of the year. Before we got to the Pujaire cafe, we'd already seen Collared Dove, Magpie & House Sparrow. As we were enjoying a cup of coffee waiting for Michael & Karen to arrive we added Spotless Starling. Once suitably refreshed we all made our way to the first hide.

Here, a quick scan revealed Greater Flamingo (Gilly later counted 493), about 100 Avocet, 71 Black Tailed Godwit and numerous Slender Billed Gulls. We were joined by Kevin. A small wader tally included Dunlin, Ringed & Kentish Plover. Larger waders seen were Black Winged Stilt, Redshank & Greenshank. Mallard ducks were the only wildfowl. There was a small group of Little Egrets to our left. Kevin then pointed out a single Cattle Egret in their midst. Gilly & I kept checking above us for raptors heading south. Suddenly there they were above us to the front. Two juvenile Egyptian Vultures. There was the odd flurry of hirundines in the shape of Barn & Red Rumped Swallows. Behind us, on the pylons & power lines we saw Iberian Grey Shrike & Kestrel. I then spotted a raptor to our left near the road leading from the rear of the reserve. A female Montagu's Harrier. Presumably the same individual a friend had seen the previous day.

Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Feeling well chuffed, we convoyed towards the second hide, stopping briefly to confirm the gulls on the beach were Yellow Legged. We parked up. Gilly thought she saw some birds drop out of view by the shoreline. She strolled over and a pair of Whimbrel flew off. 

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We walked past the Sea Daffodils towards the hide, Gilly hearing a Sardinian Warbler on the way. From the hide we added a couple of Grey Heron and a single Great White Egret.

Great White Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Moving on to the public hide, I checked the rocky causeway to the right. There were Sandwich Tern, Black Headed Gulls and a few Shoveler. On the main expanse of water I spotted a Black Necked Grebe. Kevin found an Eurasian Curlew. We left via the track heading to the church. A bird was flitting ahead of us. Eventually we discovered it was a juvenile Woodchat Shrike. 

Sea Daffodil (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We had a cup of coffee as we sea-watched. I spotted a distant Cory's (Scopoli's) Shearwater. Then there was a raptor heading towards us across the sea from Roquetas way. It was a Black Kite! Also seen were Barn Swallows heading north! An Audouin's Gull flew by.

After elevenses, we headed for the Rambla Morales along the beachside track. As we parked up the first spots of light rain hit us. The scrubland behind the beach was alive with at least 100 hirundines feeding at low level. Barn Swallows mostly, but there were also some House & Sand Martins. On the ground were about half a dozen Yellow Wagtails. We walked to the "hump". Sadly the view from there over the water was badly restricted by the height of the reeds, but we did see Coot, Mallard, Little Grebe, Black Headed Gulls & Greater Flamingos. Michael spotted a male White Headed Duck. Kevin the spotted a pair of Common Swift flying over. It was now raining more heavily so we retreated back to the vehicles. Saying goodbye to Kevin, the rest of us went for lunch. Gilly & I saw some White Wagtails as we went through the shortcut. 

We ended with 44 species for the day, the raptors being the stars. A very good days birding in good company.
Regards, Dave

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