Thursday 23 January 2020

Almeria and Cabo de Gata - Day Two

Record shot of Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Wednesday 22 January

Up early, must have been a little rain overnight, but a beautiful, sunny start.  A cold wind but very pleasant when in any form of shelter.  Straight to the first hide at Cabo de Gata on the bend as you approach the village where a number of Flamingos were seen along with Slender-billed Gulls and a close Little Egret.  Close by I had a single Redshank and Dunlin and,resting on a distant post a lovely Peregrine FalconHouse Sparrows near the road, Crag Martins feeding over a small pool opposite the hide from where a lone Mallard beat a hasty retreat and to my right the first of the morning's Stonechats.

Distant view of Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco peregrinus
About this time my friend Dave Elliott-Binns turned up with his merry band from the Arboleas Birding Group, very pleasant and friendly group, and with the extra eyes we were soon picking up new species including a skulking Black-winged Stilt, Black Redstart and a few Spotless Starlings along with the odd Common Starling.  A couple of Marsh Harriers were quartering the scrub land behind us and a Gannet was seen approaching from the sea.

Moving round to the first hide we soon found a quartet of Curlew which led directly to us finding the apparently close-feeding Stone Curlews. Not just the first Crested Lark  but also the first of a number of Cormorant were also recorded.  A lone Sandwich Tern put in an appearance and looking at the salina away to our left we managed to add a distant Great Crested Grebe followed by a quartet of Pintail.

From the Public Hide we could see that the forty or so Spoonbill were still in residence accompanied by a handful or so of Cormorant and a lose Curlew giving good views.  Also on the water Shelduck and both Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls.  leaving the hide, a few of us took the well-puddled track down to the village where we found plenty of Greenfinch, Meadow Pipit and both Crested and Thekla Lark.  Strange who this lowland site seems to attract mainly Thekla rather than the expected Crested Larks.

Common Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
On up and over the steep hill, where I was just in time to see the Corn Bunting disturbed by Dave in the lead car, to the light house.  A Kestrel was seen but very little else by myself other than more Crested Larks and Black Redstarts.  On the way back to Cabo for a coffee break I drove  a few hundred metres down the track to the back of the salinas where I found a pair of Black Wheatears.

Black Wheatear Collalba Negra Oenanthe leucura

Following the comfort break time to drive along the beach track to the Rambla Morales where I found a single Black-necked Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Little Egrets and Heron.  Feeding Crag Martins over the water and then on the return drive back to the road I stopped to look at the small number of Kentish and Ringed Plovers.   Jenny did ask if I attempted to drive across!

Record shot of Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

Finally, driving back through the village to take the exit road out of Cabo de Gata I added both Collared Dove and White Wagtail before driving by the camp site to check out the wet area of the dry river bed in search of a wader or two.  Dry river bed?  Good job it was light and I was not visiting the farm on the other side as the river was now twenty yards across and a raging torrent rushing down stream!  But I did add a Sardinian Warbler as I took the coast track back towards Retemar.  However, no sign of either Trumpeter Finch nor Dotterel on this occasion.

Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea (left) with Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta (right)
More information can be found by reading Dave's report as seen by him and his fellow members as we were together most of the time.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew,  Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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