Wednesday 31 March 2021

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

 Wednesday 31 March

I see from his latest report that Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have been able to visit one of my favourite birding sites at the Cabo de Gata in Almeria province.  For me this is still a "No, no" as we await the lifting of the provincial borders lockdown but, all being well, we might just get lucky sometime in April.  And some great birds recorded with Short-toed Eagle, Curlew, Stone Curlew, Northern Wheatear and Audouin's Gull.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 31st March

I picked up Neville from Los Gallardos and headed south on the A7/E15 towards Almeria.  We came off at Jct 467, where our bird count starts.  Immediately I spotted a Short-toed Eagle above the small hill to the left.  It obviously shocked the two Red-legged Partridge as they exited right very rapidly!  An auspicious start!  We carried on through Retamar Sur, seeing the usual suspects....Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, Blackbird and House Sparrow.  More unusual was the flock of Black-headed Gulls, presumably heading for the local tip.

As we were about an hour early, we headed onto the track which goes round the rear of the reserve from the northern end.  With more time it's better to come in from the southern end as the sun would be behind you and you'd be on the correct side of the vehicle to see the birds on the salina.  There were plenty of Thekla Larks flitting about.  On the water we saw Slender-billed Gulls, Greater Flamingos, Avocets and Shelduck.  A small number of  Barn Swallow flew past.....I should mention here that the wind was gusty and cool, coming from the north-east.  We reached the hide and turned round.  We added a very obliging Iberian Yellow Wagtail.  We met the others, John, Trevor, Peter and Kevin, at the first hide.  They'd already seen Black-tailed Godwit, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt and Cormorant.  They'd also seen a pair of "large" larks which were probably Calandra.  Have seen them once in the past.  Kevin found the 6 or so Spoonbill up the far end.  Also seen were Little Egret, Mallard and Yellow-legged Gull.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After a cup of coffee in Cabo village we made for the second hide.  Leaving the village John had a House Martin and Kevin, a pair of Kestrels.  I had a Greenfinch.  A search out to sea only produced Black-headed Gulls.  From the hide I found two individual Eurasian Curlews flying over the savannah. Kevin did well to spot a sitting Stone Curlew.  John confirmed a Redshank whilst I spotted a Raven.
We moved onto the middle hide.  After trudging against the wind we saw a Hoopoe.  John added an Audouin's Gull.

Hoopoe Upupa epops (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

En route to the public hide, a Northern Wheatear was flushed as we passed.  From the hide we managed to find some small identifiable waders as opposed to the previous low supersonic flight views we'd had.  We added Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Dunlin and a Sanderling John had spotted.  He also found a Willow Warbler in the hide's sheltered shrubs.  Nothing new was added as we went along the track to the church.

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We then made our way along the beach side track towards the Rambla Morales.  My truck and Trevor's SUV made it but Peter's car got well and truly stuck in soft sand!  Kevin was behind him.  I drove back and managed with lots of shovelling and eventually using a steel hauser dragged the vehicle free.
Meanwhile John and Trevor had walked down to the Morales hump.  They saw Coot, Moorhen, Black Redstart and a Marsh Harrier.  Also seen were 13 Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Mallards and a House Martin.

After our exertions, we adjourned for a well deserved snack lunch!
We ended up with 45 species. Migration's still not in full flow here in East Andalucia.  Thanks everybody for great company.
Regards, Dave

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