1 April : Cabo de Gata, Arboleas Bird Group

Seems like All Fools Day was the day to be out birding as Dave and Gilly and others of the Arboleas Group went down to Cabo de Gata. A pity it's so far away from here, I must go down and join them for a day and try to remind myself what waders look like! The photos are, of course, Dave's.

The sun was shining as Gilly and I plus three other members set off to Cabo de Gata. As we arrived at the first hide we could see that the water level was as high as before on both sides of the road. A group of 5 Little Egrets were feeding in the shallows. On one pool in the scrubland to our left there was a good selection of birds, Shelduck, Avocet, Black-winged Stilts and Black-tailed Godwits. Behind us Gilly spotted a female Bluethroat. Lots of iberiae race Yellow Wagtails. A flight of 9 Bee-eaters passed overhead. Small numbers of Barn and Red-rumped Swallows were seen, as were Pallid Swifts. I regretted wearing my 3/4 length trousers as we were pounced on by 100's of mosquitoes. As a consequence only Gilly and I ventured to the pool past the small desalination plant and Green Sandpiper was the best we got there. We joined up with the others at the second hide. Saw both Northern and Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike and Corn Bunting.

The 100s of Chiffchaffs seen on our previous visit had moved on. At the public hide a pair of Black-necked Grebes were still present. The sandy islands were occupied by Avocets and a few Kentish Plovers. Here the group split up again due to the state of the Reserves rear track. Brian, Mary and Dave went off to search out a route to Morales through the campsite whilst Gilly and I ventured round the back. The water level was down by man's hand no doubt, drained by the salt works which was good. The track had dried to muddy patches which we tried to avoid. The rest was dry, but bumpy. We saw about 5 Spotted Redshanks and 3 Greenshanks.

I spotted a "big" bird heading towards us. A Bonelli's Eagle came right over the top of us. A bit further along we had good fleeting views of a Spectacled Warbler. As we approached the end of the track a single Stone Curlew took to the air, which made our 50th bird species of the day.

Dave & Gilly

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