Wednesday 27 November 2019

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Group

Wednesday 27 November

With Dave and Gilly now safely back in Spain after their UK visit I see that, once more, the Arboleas Birding Group is functioning once more; no peace for the wicked or should that read enthusiast?  Welcome back Dave and look forward to more exciting reports of your birding adventures to the east of Andalucia.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 27th November

Hi all!

Glad be be back in Spain after a long seven weeks in the U.K. John made the decision last week that the group would go to Cabo de Gata today. I made my own way down the A7-E15 and headed for Pujaire.  I logged Magpie, Iberian Grey Shrike and Spotless Starling before I reached the meeting point, the cafe in Pujaire.  There I met Peter, followed by Alan, John, Les, Trevor and lastly Kevin. Those in Alan's car had also seen Northern Starling.

After a coffee we headed for the first hide seeing some Jackdaw on the way.  The Greater Flamingos were there of course.  I later estimated there to be around 300 on the salinas.  There was a large flotilla of feeding Slender Billed Gulls.  Also on the high water were some Cormorant and Mallard. As the water level was so high there were no sand bars or scrapes for waders. We did see Little Egret. A Sardinian Warbler was chuttering in front of the hide.  Trevor spotted our first Chiffchaff of the day.  Alan found a Robin and Les, a Linnet.  I spotted some Crag Martins over the pump house, but was trumped by Les's Barn Swallow.  We also saw Black Redstart, Thekla Lark, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit.

Greater Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
John then scanned the shallow pool on the other side of the road. There were 4 Snipe, a Spotted Redshank, a Black-winged Stilt and a pair of Redshank.  He also spotted a passing Yellow-legged Gull.

For a change we then headed towards the Rambla Morales.  As I joined the beach side track I spotted a flying Audouin's Gull.  We carried on along the track when we began to see small waders on the beach.  There were Sanderling and Kentish Plover.  Further along I spotted some more on savanna to our right.  There were Kentish and Ringed Plovers plus a number of Skylarks.  Alan spotted a Trumpeter Finch which flew further along towards the rambla.  Also seen was a large flock of Goldfinch with Linnets and Greenfinches present.  Two Trumpeter Finches flew off.  We added Cattle Egret, White Wagtail and Kestrel before we reached the water.  Yet again, very disappointing.  John managed to spot a Coot...yes, that was it!  Out to sea Alan found a Gannet and I, a Sandwich Tern. John added some Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

We headed back to the second hide along the Cabo beach road. As we reached the hide a flock of 26 Stone Curlew flew by.  As well as a flock of Black-headed Gulls there was a mixed rabble of feeding Greater Flamingos and Slender-billed Gulls on the water.  John spotted some Spoonbills on a distant causeway.

We moved onto the third hide, the one before the public hide.  We got out of the vehicles.  John said to me, "This is where the Dotterel were last time" indicating scrubland between us and the beach.  I replied, "Like that one there!"

Dottterel Chorlito Carambolo Charadrius morinellus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
In fact there were 8 Dotterel, giving good views.  We then walked to the hide.  We added Shelduck to the list.

The public hide was next.  We had a clearer view of the Spoonbill.  There were 30 of them.  Kevin and I were alone in the hide when I was shocked to see a pair of Red-rumped Swallows fly by, not 10 metres in front of us...and heading north!  The others were checking out some small waders to the right.  There were Dunlin, Little Stint and Kentish Plover.

As the wind was getting up we decided to adjourn for lunch and not head for the lighthouse.  As I drove along the road back towards Cabo village I saw a small flock of 4 Trumpeters finches flitting about the scrubland to the left.

Male Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with a respectable 50 species, the stars being the Dotterels and the very early/late Red Rumped Swallows!
Regards, Dave

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