3 June, Arboleas Birding Group, Cabo de Gata

As I am totally tied up with illustrations, thank the Great God Spuggie (it's Geordie slang for a certain species of bird) for Dave's account of the Arboleas Birding Group trip to Cabo de Gata, with some super photos of his to illuminate the text.

Arboleas Birding Group - 3rd June 2009
, Cabo de Gata
This week we decided we'd follow Bob Wright down to Cabo de Gata. (see his blog at www.birdingaxarquia.blogspot.com ). Five members of the group headed south in the sunshine.
After a hearty breakfast in Pujaire we stopped at the first hide. There were lots of Avocet, a few Kentish Plover, 5 Curlew and 19 Black-tailed Godwit, most of which were in breeding plumage. On arrival at the beach opposite the 2nd hide a check out to sea revealed six 2nd winter Gannet. Our approach to the hide was guarded by obliging Crested Larks on the fence posts. Black Winged Stilt were calling as they circled the adjacent gully. On the water a raft of Slender-billed Gulls were feeding. A few Shelduck were around the edges.

Gilly's absence I did the Greater Flamingo count. As I finished about another 100 flew in from the sea, so the final total was +/- 317 individuals. Lots of Little Terns were in evidence, some on nests, viewed from the next public hide. Also there were 4 Gull-billed Terns. On the wader front, Dunlin and Ringed Plover were added to our list. Here the group split into two. Those in a normal car went to the Lighthouse and did not add to our daily bird list.
In my 4x4 we went round the back of the reserve. We had slightly more success than Bob had, as, apart from the Avocet, a group of Slender-billed Gulls were on the waters edge close to the track, so was able to get a good photo! We ended up with a total of 29 for the day and no sunburn or mosquito bites!!

Note from Andy: The presence of the Godwits in breeding plumage, Dunlin and the Ringed Plover at this late date is interesting. Are these high Arctic breeders (Icelandic in the case of the godwits while the Ringed Plovers breed as far N as Novaya Zemlaya and Spitsbergen) that have missed the bus or are they 1st summer birds? Puzzles that we may solve one day.

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