Thursday 23 January 2020

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales with the ABG

Wednesday 22 January   

As part of my two days birding up in Almeria Province I was able to join my friend Dave Elliott-Binns and his Arboleas Birding Group for their weekly visit, this time at Cabo de Gata.  Great day in glorious sunny weather, but a strong cold wind blowing, despite the awful weather to both west and east of us!  What a lovely group of birders Dave had and it was both a pleasure and privilege to be out with the.  As usual, Dave's report follow and all being well will be able to add my own contribution as soon as possible,

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:  Wednesday 22nd January 2020

I was on the point of cancelling today's trip to Cabo de Gata, but I was assured by Alan that the weather was going to be okay.  As I headed south on the A7/E15 I drove through heavy rain and a hail storm, but by the time I came off the motorway the sun was out.  I logged Collared Dove, White Wagtail and Spotless Starling before I stopped at the cafe in Pujaire.  There I met Alan, Les, John, Val, Trevor, Jim, Michael and Karen.  After a coffee we headed for the first hide.  Bob Wright was already there, immediately telling me we'd missed a perched Peregrine Falcon by 5 minutes....Don't you just hate it when that happens!  We were joined by Jacky,  Dave and Myrtle.  A scan of the water in front of the hide produced the usual Greater Flamingos and Slender Billed Gulls.  I found a Spotted Redshank on the nearly water covered causeway.  Little birds included a Blackcap seen by Trevor, Northern Starlings, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff and the first of many Stonechats.  John wandered down the car park to observe the pool.  He saw Black Winged Stilts and a Redshank.  I spotted an adult Gannet out to sea.  Also seen were Yellow Legged and Black Headed Gulls.  John saw a Barn Swallow amongst the tens of Crag Martins.  A pair of Marsh Harriers were quartering the land behind us, the female giving us reasonably close views.  Trevor added a Black Redstart before Alan spotted some flying Shoveler.

We then headed towards the second hide.  I saw an Eurasian Curlew on the way as well as a Thekla Lark.  Once parked up we saw another 4 Curlews feeding on the savanna.  A Sandwich Tern was patrolling the shallows.  As we walked over towards the hide we saw a number of flights of Stone Curlew, some giving good, but distant views in the sun.  John had an Audouin's Gull whilst Alan found a distant Great Crested Grebe.  The Spoonbill were still in their usual place.  We later counted 40 of them.  Cormorants were close by.  I spotted a pair of flying Shelduck whilst Val found some other ducks which were eventually identified as Pintail.  Alan and I both saw a Bluethroat flitting around the dyke to our right.  Les saw an Iberian Grey Shrike and some Greenfinch.  Jim and Karen then saw a "bird chase" over the right hand scrubland.  A sky scan revealed a pair of Peregrine Falcons heading back towards the mountains.

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandviensis (PGHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved onto the public hide where we caught up with Dave and Myrtle.  They had had a good view of a Dartford Warbler.  They, the warblers, seem to like the shrubs in front of the hide.  Les added a Dunlin.  An Eurasian Curlew showed well.  A few Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen.  We left via the church track.  I found some Meadow Pipits down the far end.  Bob did a more thorough check and found the flock to contain about 40 individuals.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus with Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (PGHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Hoping for coffee break in the village, but alas everywhere was closed so we made for the lighthouse.  I added a Corn Bunting and a Red-legged Partridge en route.  Checking the sea from the lighthouse, John spotted what is now called a Yelkouan ( Mediterranean) Shearwater travelling east.  A Gannet showed well.  A line of four low flying duck was seen flying east but not identified.

We headed back to the salinas and stopped off at the 3rd hide but didn't add any new species.  We had a closer view of the Spoonbill albeit from the side.

Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia with a few Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo (PGHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then stopped for lunch in Cabo village.  We saw a number of Crag Martins and as we left Les saw a Barn Swallow.

We then convoyed along the beach-side track towards the Rambla Morales.  Alan and co in the leading vehicle stopped when they found a group of small waders on the rough land. Mostly Kentish Plovers but also Ringed Plover and Sanderling.  At the lake we added Coot, Moorhen and Little Egret.  Bob found a Black Necked Grebe.  We also saw a Great Crested Grebe.  John added Mediterranean Gulls to the list.

We ended up with 53 species for the day.  Was great to catch up with Bob.  We escaped the worst of the weather by a whisker!  As I passed the BP garage outside Pujaire, the nearby rambla was in full flood.  Heading north up the motorway, there was evidence of heavy snow near Nijar and Los Gallardos....phew!
Regards, Dave

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