Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Caba de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 3 March

With the lifting of more Covid restrictions in Almeria province good to see Dave able to get out with some of his Arboleas Birding Group and where better to start than at Cabo de Gata and nearby Rambla Morales.  And what a way to start with Great Spotted Cuckoo, Golden Eagle and Golden Plovers included in the total of over 50 species recorded.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 3 March

Good to be back!  It is almost exactly two months to the day since we've been out birding and coincidently we're going to the same place with the same people plus one other!
I picked Rob up from Arboleas and headed south towards Almeria.  We were approaching our turn off when a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew across in front of us.  A first for Rob!  We came off the A7/E15 at junction 467 and headed towards Cabo de Gata.  En route we saw Collared Dove, Blackbird, House Sparrow and Magpie.  We'd come down early so we could "do" the rear of the reserve.  We drove along the beach road . We stopped briefly near a small flock of gulls on the beach.  They were mostly Audouin's, but there was a couple of Yellow-legs and some very blackish Lesser Black-backs.  If I'd not been parked in an awkward place I'd have got photos of those two.

Carrying on we added Thekla Lark, Cormorant and a pair of Kestrel.  It was at about this point we realised there was a very nippy wind coming from the east.  My passenger was very cold with no fleece!

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We got to the beginning of the rear track.  Stopping to start the list, we saw a female Black Redstart.  Moving on, we didn't see anything in the first two salinas.  The next one produced Shelduck, Slender-billed Gulls, a few Black-headed Gulls in breeding plumage, Redshank, Little Stint, Sanderling, Avocet, Kentish Plover and the first Greater Flamingos.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

On the savannah side we saw Sardinian Warbler and Corn Bunting.  When we got to the full green hedge next to the cultivated field we "pushed" possibly Chiffchaff along its length.  Also seen were Blackbird and Collared Dove.  As we approached the end of the track we added a pair of Hoopoe and a White Wagtail.

We met up with John and Peter at the first hide. John had seen a Crested Lark en route.  He pointed out the Grey Herons on the causeway and Black-winged Stilts he'd found.  I spotted a Grey Plover then the group of Spoonbill in the distance in their usual place.  John found some Black-tailed Godwit.  I found a Mallard and then noticed there were about 8 Oystercatchers amongst a distant group of Avocet.  John saw our one and only Stonechat of the day. There were plenty of Shelduck seen.

We moved onto the second hide, our usual cafe being closed (double drat!). John spotted a fine adult Gannet out to sea.  From the hide we added a Little Egret.  I found an Iberian Grey Shrike perched on a bush.

We moved to the middle hide. I spotted an Eurasin Curlew on the track which flew off as we approached.  A further pair was seen to the right.  John spotted the only addition....a probable Sand Martin flying low and fast.

The visit to the public hide didn't produce any further new birds.  There were 120+ Cormorants on the causeway to the left.  The Junta have replaced the bamboo screening which has blocked off good views to the right hand salina.  We drove out via the church track. On the way back along the beach road, Rob and I saw a single Raven.

We made our way along the beachside track towards the Rambla Morales.  We immediately saw a large flight of waders drop down onto the right hand savanna.  We stopped and we were excited to see 75+ Golden Plover.  Carrying on, a Lesser Short-toed Lark flew across the track in front of us.  At the brackish lake there were a couple of Cormorants at the beach end.  We walked to the bump.  There were 4 Grey Herons seen.  A female Marsh Harrier took off from the opposite reed bed, flushing the small flock of Mallard.  Rob found a Little Grebe.  John heard a Cetti's Warbler.  He then spotted our only Barn Swallow of the day....heading south!  On the way back along the track, Rob spotted a Ringed Plover.
Saying goodbye to Peter the rest of us had lunch at the patisserie.  Driving back to the motorway, Rob and I added Serin and Jackdaw.

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended the day with 51 species, not bad considering the bitterly cold wind!  A good days birding in good company

Photos below plus one from my garden yesterday!
Regards, Dave

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos seen from dave's home (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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