Friday 17 February 2023

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 15 February

Whilst I was driving the final part of journey from Haro in Rioja province to the ferry port at Santander in cool, cloudy weather, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group were off south to explore the lovely Cabo de Gata once again.  Sad to see that they has little in return for their journey, especially as we recorded twenty species on the total drive from Valencia to Santander, plus some lovely birds at a short stop at the Laguna de Gallocanta, 50km south-west of Zaragosa. (see separate report).  But, there again, those lovely Trumpeter Finches which managed to escape me last year and which are always a joy to see.  And the Golden Plover must have been a very pleasant addition.  Let's hope for better luck next week and maybe, also, much improved weather!

Trumpeter Finches Bucanetes githagineus
Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:
Wednesday 15th February

The initial plan this week was to go to the Sierra de Maria, but checking the weather forecast I saw there was a 65% chance of rain whereas Cabo de Gata had a 20% chance.  Hence I headed south, picking up Juda at Los Gallardos.  There were some spots of rain on the way but nothing to deter us. Coming off the motorway we saw the first birds for the list, a small flock of Jackdaw.  We added Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, Magpie and Yellow-legged Gull before we arrived at the first hide car park. Trevor was already there and Peter S followed us in.

There was a bitterly cold and gusty north easterly wind which stayed with us all morning.  Scanning the water in front of us didn't warm our cockles.  The water level was high so there were no sandy shores or mud flats.  The rocky causeway only contained two Mallard who were later joined by a pair of Yellow-legged Gulls.  I spotted a Grey Heron hunkered down adjacent to an island to our left.  Down the left hand shrub line I found a Black-winged Stilt.  From here we could see no Greater Flamingos.

We adjourned for a refreshing cup of coffee in Cabo village, seeing House Sparrows as we slurped.  We then made our way to the second hide.  A seawatch proved negative.  The walk to the hide, against the wind, also didn't produce any birds.  There was no sign of any Stone Curlews in their usual place to the left.  We saw some more Yellow-legged Gulls and some Thekla Larks.  Far to the right in a distant salina I saw a huddled group of Greater Flamingos.  15 adults and 2 juveniles.  Peter then spotted a large flight of more Greater Flamingos coming in off the sea from the direction of Roquetas.  A check later of the photo I took, there appeared to be about 45 individuals, mostly adults.

We moved on to the public hide where Peter found some Black-winged Stilts and a pair of Shelduck. There was nothing on the track to the church.  As we drove back towards Cabo village I spotted a small flock of Greenfinch.

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Just after the start of the beachside track to Rambla Morales, near the cafe, I spotted some Trumpeter Finches flitting about in the low shrubs.  We got out of the vehicles for a better look.  There were about 12.  Out to sea was an adult Gannet quite close in.  Further along we found a group of Spotless Starlings feeding.  With them were 9 Golden Plover.  As I was photographing them a small flock of brown birds landed in front of them.  A check of the picture later revealed some Skylark and another Trumpeter Finch.

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

There was nothing at the estuary apart from white foam. Peter spotted a Coot.  At the hump he found a solitary Black-tailed Godwit.  Also seen were some Greater Flamingos and Mallard. 

Flight of Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

We ended up with 21 species, probably the lowest total we'd seen there.  It was however good to be out and about despite being cold!  Our last highlight was seen as we entered Pujaire village.  An adult Wild Boar standing by the side of the road.  Unfortunately traffic prevented me from stopping for a photocall! 

Regards, Dave

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