Thursday 9 March 2023

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 8 March

Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineu
 taken by Bob Wright at Cabo de Gata a few years
 ago whilst birding with Dave and his group

Looks as if the sun and heat has returned to southern Spain whilst we back in Blighty are battening down the hatches as more snow is forecast plus gale force winds.  Me thinks I may not be venturing out this week-end!  May have been few birds seen by the Arboleas Birding Group on their visit the Cabo de Gata area but look at what was seen; lots of newly-arrived Yellow Wagtails, no doubt all of the Iberian sub-species, plus those lovely Trumpeter Finches which, when first seen by those not familiar with this species, could well be described as blooded House Sparrows!!!

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 8th March

I firstly want to apologise to our shivering UK readers as today in South East Spain feels like the first day of summer.  As I type this, the outside temperature is 26c, sun and blue skies!

Earlier I picked up Peter from the Overa hotel and headed south on the E15/A7 motorway.  We started our bird list as we came off at junction 762.  We saw Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, Collared Dove, Magpie, Carrion Crow and House Sparrow before we got to the first hide.  Kevin was already there, scanning the view in front with his telescope.  He'd already logged Mallard, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-winged Stilt, Cormorant, Stonechat and a possible Common Buzzard.  The latter was seen perched on a distant post.  A photo of it, which I saw later, seemed to confirm his identification.  Kevin spotted an Iberian Grey Shrike on the power line.  Also seen by Trevor and Phil en route was a Black Redstart. Val arrived.  She'd got here early from her holiday hotel in San Jose and had headed up to the church track. She'd seen Greenfinch, three Trumpeter Finches and Lesser Black Backed Gulls.  The water level was very high so not many areas for small waders.  I spotted a distant Kestrel flying away.  We heard an Eurasian Curlew calling.  No Greater Flamingos in view.

We moved onto the second hide after our coffee break, seeing Thekla Lark en route. Val saw a Greater Flamingo, but it disappeared behind a bank.  Phil spotted our one and only Barn Swallow (hirundine) of the day which was a shock.  Val added a Corn Bunting whilst Kevin saw a Hoopoe.

We next went to the public hide.  We eventually found seven distant Greater Flamingos......considering we normally see between 3 to 600 individuals goes to prove the water/feed is not to their liking yet after the enforced drought over the last 6 months.  Peter found a swimming Avocet near the island.  Yellow Wagtails were flitting above the shrubs.  A lone small wader on the same island proved to be a Kentish Plover.  It was joined by two of its larger cousins, Grey Plovers.  A trip along the church track only produced Greenfinch and Corn Bunting.  As we headed back towards Cabo village Trevor and Phil saw a Kestrel.

As I joined the beachside track to Rambla Morales I spotted a Ringed Plover on a grassy bank to our right.  Once at the brackish lake Trevor added a Coot.  A single male White-headed Duck was seen plus some Moorhen.  Peter found some Black-tailed Godwits.  We heard a Cetti's Warbler.  A couple of Chiffchaffs flitted amongst the reeds.  Trevor added a Black-necked Grebe and Val spotted a distant Dunlin with a Kentish Plover.

Getting back to the vehicles we said our goodbyes.  Lovely weather and company.  Even though we saw 36 species, the actual bird numbers were very poor, e.g...7 Greater Flamingos, 4 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Kentish Plovers, 1 Dunlin, 1 Avocet, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Coot, 3 Moorhen, 1 White-headed Duck, 1 Barn Swallow.

A bonus was a Blue Rock Thrush on a derelict building near the speed camera on the way back to the motorway.

And sorry, no photo opportunities today.

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