16 September, Cabo de Gata

Dave sent this last week but it never arrived, a bit like mail to and from the UK, it's lost in some huge anonymous and impenetrable void and this replacement has arrived this morning.

16 September, Cabo de Gata

I was up early today, leaving Gilly in bed, as I headed down to Cabo de Gata to continue my Slender-billed Curlew search. I arrived at the first hide just before the sun rose, so was able to grab a welcome cup of coffee before I could see properly. Firstly it was just silhouettes, Grey Heron, Flamingos and Avocets. Saw a flight of about 10 of what I assume to be Black-bellied Sandgrouse flying north towards Morales. Soon things got clearer. Black-tailed Godwit (122 for day), Kentish Plover, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Little Stint. The juvenile Gull-billed Tern was still being fed by a parent. To my right along the sandy waters edge close to the second hide I could see an Eurasian Curlew through a small crowd of Grey Herons. And yes, there was a smaller looking bird there as well which suddenly took off and disappeared onto the savanna.

I made my way round there. The sea was very calm. Saw three large shearwaters way out, which I assumed were Cory's. I then headed for the hide and furiously scanned the savanna. I'm not usually happy about joggers running along the inner track of the reserve, but I could have kissed this man (not really!!) as all of a sudden 5 Eurasian Curlews took to the wing together with this smaller curlew-shaped bird. The Curlew flew I don't know where as I had my radar fixed on the other bird. It landed within telescope view a hundred yards away. I was nearly having another heart attack! I focused in. A short slightly curved down bill. Then I saw it.....the distinct crown strip! A Whimbrel, who had joined two of his mates! No cigar, but at least I'd identified it. I was still elated. At the public hide I added a Ruff to my list and also the female Montagu's Harrier made a brief appearance.

On my way to the rear track I stopped to check out some gulls on the beach. Mostly Yellow- legged, a few Lesser Black-backs and about a dozen Audouin's Gulls. Two of the latter had clearly visible numbered rings.
I should mention the Hirundines. Lots of Barn Swallows, a few Red-rumped Swallows and Sand Martins and a single House Martin. Also saw a single Pallid Swift. Round the back on the wader front I added Curlew Sandpiper and about 10 Knots. The female Montagu's reappeared and a Marsh Harrier flew by, maybe putting up the solitary, but noisy, Stone Curlew. Saw a small group of very yellow small warblers, which I took to be Willow Warblers. In the cultivated field near to the end of the track a flock of at least 30 Yellow Wagtails were feeding. As far as I could tell, all "iberiae" subspecies. They rounded up a brilliant but tiring trip. 47 species in all.
Now that's what I call a good day's birding!!

See you at the Tarifa Bird Fair where I shall be on Friday and Saturday and if you want to say hello, please do so.

By the by, you will see that I have added a counter and FatBirder ranking, this as of yesterday, the beginning count starting from data provided by blogspot. Thank you, all readers, wherever you are (from all over the shop according to the info.) and whoever you be!!

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