9 February, Cabo de Gata, Arboleas Birding Group

Another daring trip to Cabo de Gata by the Arboleas Birding Group, as well as the usual photos. I have put in two of Dave's photos of the Bluethroat as you can just see the reddish at each side of the base of the tail which is a good giveaway if you see one in brief flight (max. 3.9 seconds view in my experience) between one bit of scrub and the next, plus the Thekla Lark (I hate the damned things too, Dave). Nice to hear that you're seeing waders, envy, pure envy, there's damn-all here.

Dave Green had just got back from a family visit to Germany where the max temperature reached was a chilly -12c so he was pleased to warm up on a trip with Gilly and I to Cabo de Gata. At the first hide the water level was about the same, very high so very little on the water. On the flooded scrubland in front of the hide was a pair of Little Egret and a single Redshank. Over the road was a Black-tailed Godwit.

The star was a first winter Bluethroat who posed beautifully before us. At the beach the rollers were coming in & it was windy, but unfortunately it was coming from the wrong direction to bring any shearwaters close to shore. About a dozen Sandwich Terns had found a shoal of fish.

On route to the hide a Thekla Lark was very obliging (photo). ID confirmed by shape of beak in "Collins"....I still confuse them with Crested Lark.
Gilly counted 386 Greater Flamingos. There was one or possibly two juvenile (pink tipped bills) Spoonbill. Stone Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were both spotted on the steppes. Small flocks of Greenfinches, Serins and Linnets were joined by the odd Corn Bunting. At the public hide, water levels dissuaded any waders, but not the 6 or so Black-necked Grebes. We then tried our new seawatch point beyond the end of Fabriquilla hamlet. Absolutely nothing apart from two mad French surfers! Round the back of the reserve the "ponds" on the track had reverted back to deep muddy puddles. A flock of 33 Audouin's Gull were at rest as were numerous Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We scanned the shallow waters for the Red-necked Phalarope which had again been seen a few days before, but to no avail. Did see Turnstone, Kentish, Ringed and Grey Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Little Stint and Dunlin. Further along there were small flocks of Avocet and Shelduck. We ended up with 50 species so well satisfied with the day.

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