Wednesday 27 September 2023

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 27 September

Sounds like a fabulous day's birding by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group and at one of favourite sites in Spain - with or without birds!  63; now that's sure a high score based on recent visits.  And soon the Trumpeter Finches and Dotterels will be back - lucky you!  Good that you, too, managed to record Bar-tailed Godwits as I did at the week-end, but back in Blighty.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 27th September

I picked Juda up from Los Gallardos, using the new dual carriageway from Arboleas all the way to the A7/E15 at the Ballabona services, saving me about 15 minutes travelling.  Once we got off the motorway near Retamar we began our list.  By the time we'd got to the first hide we had only seen Collared Doves, a few Barn Swallows and a Thekla Lark.  Kevin had already arrived having spent the night in his campervan.  His list from scanning the salina in front of him included Jackdaw, Avocet, Redshank, Mallard, Spotless Starling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish and Ringed Plover.  By this time Barrie, Beryl and Trevor had arrived.  We jokingly told them we had 63 species on the list already!  Barrie was quick to spot some Ruff and 3 Little Stints. Kevin added an Iberian Grey Shrike.  Only two gulls seen, a Yellow-legged and a Black-headed.  Kevin spotted a very distant Grey Heron and then a Grey Plover.  In a pool nearby, where the ruff were, I spotted another smaller wader.  Barrie ID it as a Curlew Sandpiper.  The group were joined by some Dunlin.

We adjourned to Cabo village for coffee, Kevin claiming some House Sparrows.  (Ha,ha)  We then drove towards the second hide. A flock of gulls on the beach looked to contain Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  There was nothing out to sea apart from an incoming Oystercatcher which flew over us.  We made our way to the hide.  Trevor and I scanned for Stone Curlews, but there was none to be seen.  Trevor spotted a Kestrel.  I added a Greenfinch.  Another Iberian Grey Shrike was noted.  As I was following Trevor's Kestrel, I noticed some distant soaring raptors.  They were beyond the Michelin test track.  Barrie got his scope on them.  The three of them were probably Honey Buzzards.  A short time later we had a confirmed sighting of a female Marsh Harrier.

We moved on to the public hide.  Loads of Greater Flamingos.  I counted 700+ in the various salinas I could see.  Kevin counted 60 Black-necked Grebes.  Some Sand Martins were flying about in front of us.  Kevin added Shelducks and Slender-billed Gulls.  Barrie found a Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

2 of the 700+ Flamingos (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We convoyed along the beach side track to the Rambla Morales.  A flying Cormorant was seen at once. Kevin checked out the estuary end and found some Turnstone.  We heard a Sardinian Warbler.  As we walked towards the hump Barrie spotted three flying waders and identified them as Knot.  He was also first to see the flotilla of 12 White-headed Ducks on the water through the reeds.  A Yellow Wagtail flew over.  Kevin added a Little Grebe and a Moorhen.  Barrie had another Bar-tailed Godwit.  There were 80 Greater Flamingos there.  I spotted a Chiffchaff.  Another Marsh Harrier was seen before Barrie added the last species for the day, a Cattle Egret.

Unbelievably our total was 63 species.  Great day in good company.  Not so good on the photography front though!

Congratulations to Carolyn and Steve on your marriage.

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