a double offering from Almeria

As my one regular reader asks me by a text message, why no offerings? The reason is that I have been away for most of the time since 12 May and am trying to write this from Madrid on my daughter's laptop and will start with a double offering and apologies to Dave and Gilly and the Arboleas Bird Group for the delay in publishing their material. First from a solitary Dave at Cabo de Gata and the second from Dave and the rest of the Arboleas Bird Group, again at Cabo de Gata.

And coming soon as I still have over 300 shots to go through, a big report on the Madeira trip and seeing Zino's and Fea's Petrels at sea!!! A huge experience! Plus a bit on the trip to Asturias with the female partner, which is not a guarantee of anything.

20th May 2010 - Cabo de Gata
As I was on my own this week, I set off early to visit Cabo de Gata. The weather was sunny, but there was a coolish NE wind across the reserve.
At the first hide, just outside Pujaire, I was pleased to see that the water level had dropped sufficiently for the scapes to be visible, but probably too late for the spring wader migration. There were Black-winged Stilts, Kentish and Ringed Plovers and Avocets. The star was a Grey Plover in full breeding attire. There were now numerous Little Terns quartering the salina searching for food. On the wall adjacent to the hide a pair of Thekla Larks were waiting for me to depart to visit a hidden nest in the vicinity. I did so after taking a photo just to confirm its identity when I got home!! The pond on the other side of the road produced small flocks of Redshank, Stilts, Avocets and Cattle Egrets.
A look out to sea near to the second hide revealed a pair of Common Terns cruising down the shallows, but nothing else. On the way to the hide a pair of Woodchat Shrikes gave alarm calls as I passed. I added nothing to my list from there so I proceeded to the public hide where I saw all the sandy islands were occupied with sitting Avocets and Little Terns. Also there were three Oystercatchers.
Round the rear of the reserve, it was devoid of waders till I got near to the little used hide. A group of 7 Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding close to about 10 Curlew Sandpipers in full breeding plumage.
Although I "only" saw 35 species, I had a good day, only spoilt by the wind. Hence I logged no warblers at all.

27th May 2010 - Cabo de Gata & Morales
Today six members of the group headed south to Cabo de Gata. The weather was surprisingly overcast but muggy. After a liquid breakfast (apart from one member) in Pujaire, Twe went to the first hide. The water had receded further. There were good numbers of Avocets and Slender-billed Gulls as well as smaller numbers of Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plover and Shelduck.

An obliging large Gecko was trying to get warm on the side of the hide. There was very little bird life in the shrub land, but overhead Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin and a single Common Swift passed by. We moved to the pool on the opposite side of the road to discover it had virtually dried up, so nothing there.

We checked out to sea before walking to the second hide. A single Common Tern was seen. At the hide Gilly did her Greater Flamingo count. She could positively see 381 but reckoned there were over 700 with two further flocks in the distance. Numerous Avocets plus half a dozen Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Oystercatchers and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. A couple of American birders were there so we helped them with some identifications.

Nothing further was seen at the public hide, so Gilly and I headed to the rear of the reserve, whilst the other four members and the Americans headed for Morales. There were lots of Slender-billed Gulls feeding close to the waters edge and again numerous Avocets. A Thekla Lark posed nicely, but our birds of the day were a pair of Peregrine Falcons perching on the pylons. Meanwhile the Morales group added 4 birds to the days list, the best being some Curlew. Mary spotted some movement in the reeds. A wild boar made a brief appearance!!
A reasonable day's birding - 35 spp.

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