25 November, Cabo de Gata, Arboleas Birding Group

Dave and Gilly are back after a rather wet sojourn in the UK.Wild horses wouldn't bet me there any time after mid September and before mid May. So, herewith their account of their first return trip to Cabo de Gata. I wish we had as many waders at the Guadalhorce as they saw!

After 5 weeks in the wet and windy UK, Gilly and I were keen to get back in to the swing of things, especially as I'd had my telescope repaired! So it was with great anticipation that we set off to Cabo de Gata with 4 other members. At the first hide just passed the village of Pujaire we were very surprised to see some hirundines were still with us. At least a dozen Barn Swallows, a few Sand Martins and a single Red-rumped Swallow were with some resident Crag Martins flying over the scrubland behind us. A small flock of Golden Plover flew into there as well. We saw the first of the half dozen or so Southern Grey Shrikes for the day on the power lines. A Cetti's Warbler was heard.

The water level was
still very high so very little could be seen on the water or its edge. What was there had to be IDed from silhouette as the sun was bright and low against us. Curlew Sandpiper and Kentish Plover were ticked off....the list, no, not angry! Also there on the bushes were
vast numbers of Stonechats. Over the course of the day we must have seen between 60
and 100. Also possibly the same number of Chiffchaffs.

We checked out what was on the flat, waveless sea. Unfortunately it was birdless as well. Hoping at least a Razorbill might have reached this far east, let alone the Little Auk!

The sun at the second hide wasn't so much in our faces. At least 5 Stone Curlews were spotted

on the steppes and a flock of Black-tailed Godwits joined them. Gilly counted at least 606
Greater Flamingos. Mallard were the main wildfowl, but Shoveler and Shelduck were also seen. As well as the Chiffchaff and Stonechat, we had good views of Dartford Warbler. Slender-billed Gulls were feeding in small numbers. 2 Audouin's Gulls were asleep on the far side. At the public hide still very few waders due to the high water level. Redshank, Greenshank, Little Stint, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilts and a couple of Avocets. A raft of 10 Black-necked Grebes was noted.

I was expecting the tour round the rear of the reserve to be very good as the wader numbers were so low elsewhere. Camera at the ready we slowly drove round..... hardly anything at all, let alone posing for us, hence no photos. So we ended the day on a bit of a downer, but SO glad to be back on my own patch. A count of 50 species.

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