28 April, Cabo de Gata

Poor Dave, forced to go birding on his own because Gilly has driven him from the marital paradise in order that she can work and do household chores .... how hard can life get? So, what can a man do but go birding?

After Gilly and my successful trip to Southern Morocco, I was looking forward to see what birds were around on my "local" patch. None of the other group members were able to come, so I set off on my own to Cabo de Gata, Gilly having work and household commitments.

At the first hide I was very pleased to see the water level had dropped sufficiently to expose some scrapes for waders. These were occupied by both Ringed and Kentish Plovers. On the rocky causeway were two Stone Curlews. I checked out the scrubland behind me and saw a perched bird. I drove round to get a better view and discovered it was a Northern Wheatear. It was obviously exhausted after, what I think, is a late arrival. It stay in its position till I departed.

The pool supplied a second surprise. A flock of 25 egrets. No, not Cattle as I had expected but Little Egrets. On the far edge was a Wood Sandpiper and a Greenshank. A small flight of Whiskered Terns flew over.

I then moved towards the second hide. A check out to sea revealed both Sandwich and Little Terns feeding. A pair of Oystercatchers flew past. On the walk to the hide I saw a Short-toed Lark. My arrival was greeted by a very noisy Yellow-legged Gull, which gave the impression I wasn't welcome on its patch! I did a "man" count of the Greater Flamingos...there were about 400!!

At the public hide, the sandy islands were full of sitting Avocets with the odd Kentish Plover and Little Tern. I also spotted 3 Black-tailed Godwits feeding, together with the, I assume, previously mentioned Oystercatchers. As I was about to depart a final scan produced a breeding plumaged red chested Curlew Sandpiper.

A drive to the lighthouse was fruitless, so I headed round the back of the reserve. he star was a Bar-tailed Godwit feeding with 3 Greenshanks and a small flock of 15 Redshanks. On the new islands, just viewable, about 100 Avocets seem to be nesting. A Common Tern (not nesting) was amongst them. A flight of 3 further Northern Wheatears flew past me. Near the end a pair of Whinchats were flitting between bush tops. The final bird of note was a Great Spotted Cuckoo which may well be on its way south after doing its dastedly deeds for the last 3 months.
49 species in all. Missing Morocco, but glad to be home.

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