7 October, Cabo de Gata; Arboleas Birding Group

Received yesterday evening (Friday), I haven't had time to put this up until this afternoon. Dave himself had troubles with his computer but, as they say, better late than never, and here is his account of the Arboleas Birding Group trip to Cabo de Gata on Wednesday, 7 October.

The last two times the Arboleas Birding Group had visited Cabo de Gata, the water levels had been very low. The waders had looked like distant LBJs! After the recent heavy rains in the area we were hoping for better. Sure enough as Gilly and I and two other members arrived at the first hide we could see the waters had risen so much that even the scrubland on the opposite side of the road was awash! Countless Barn Swallows and Sand Martins were stocking up for their oversea journey to North Africa. Only the long legged Black-winged Stilts were able to cope with the water, but a lonesome Ringed Plover sat on the causeway. We saw the first of numerous Stonechats and possibly our last Turtle Dove of the year was spotted. A scan over the flattish sea proved fruitless. On the beach some Lesser Black-backed Gulls had joined the resident Yellow-legs. The first of our only bird of prey for the day was spotted as we walked towards the second hide. I took a photo as it was flying off.
Later I was surprised to see it was ringed. A small flock of various finches was feeding nearby. It comprised of two Trumpeter Finches, about half a dozen Corn Buntings, numerous Greenfinches and a solitary Robin. A non chiffchaff was spotted in the shrubs. Identification is so much easier if you get a photo, enlarge on the computer with "Collins" by your side. It turned out to be a Reed Warbler!
On the wader front a flock of 40+ Curlew was seen flying between the shoreline & the savannah. Due to the high water not many waders were outside the public hide. Gilly did spot a Dartford Warbler in the bushes. Thank god for my 4x4. The track round the rear of the reserve was muddy, rutted and very wet! Both Slender-billed and Audouin's Gulls were seen. The most numerous species was 100's of eclipse plumaged Shoveler. There were a few Avocets, also Little Stint, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit and a solitary Turnstone. 15 Shelducks doing a fly-past completed our 44 species list. A very good day....just got to get the water level sorted!! Dave & Gilly

NOTE: Dave and Gilly are off to England from next Wednesday (about 14 October if my maths is right), for 5 weeks, travelling on the "Pride of Bilbao". A Black-browed Albatross and a Barolo (Little) have been seen from it this autumn. They are heading for Cley (Norfolk) and hope to see Richard Gunn. Next report from Almería will be the end of November.

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