20 January, Cabo de Gata - and note from myself

Dave's back at his deservedly favourite spot .... no prizes for guessing where!

I got to the first hide at Cabo de Gata just as it was beginning to get light in order to catch the usual movement of Eurasian Curlews, but as I scanned their usual overnight haunts I could find no trace of them. There were plenty of Greater Flamingos of course, 323 over the day. 35 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the shallows along with some Avocets and Redshanks. 3 Common Cranes flew north passed the hide and I also spotted 5 Spoonbills feeding in the distance, their heads swinging from side to side. Grey Plovers and a flock of about 50 were near the rocky causeway.
At about 0850 hrs I heard the sound of calling
Dunlins and Curlews. I then saw 5 flying towards me from the southern end of the reserve. They passed to my right flying north.
I drove down to the pool on the opposite side of the road. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was there together with an Avocet, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits and more Dunlin. Another Curlew flew in to join them. I heard a Cetti's Warbler and saw Water Pipit and Chiffchaff, the latter being less numerous than last week.

On to the second hide. Thekla Larks were guarding it on the fence posts, but the only observation of note were about 100+ Slender-billed Gulls in a feeding frenzy and Eurasian Curlew, together with a Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the grassland. Noted a Corn Bunting as I was leaving to go to the public hide.

There, the only new tick was a small raft of 16 Black-necked Grebes, so I headed along the beach road to a good seawatching spot. The sea was relatively calm so if there were any Razorbills out there I should see them. Alas no, but did see a Cormorant and an adult Gannet.

The track round the rear of the reserve has improved insomuch as there's very few muddy lakelets, but still rutted. Dartford Warblers and Zitting Cisticolas were displaying in the sunshine. 83 Shelduck were seen, but the star again was the juvenile Peregrine Falcon flying low over the area putting up flocks of Avocets.
A reasonably successful day. 44 species seen.

21 January - a note : Interesting the Cranes, I wonder if they had come across from North Africa? Here in Málaga we have forgotten what Razorbills look like! I was at the Guadalhorce again this morning and turned up the first House Martin of the year for there, although we had seen one last Saturday near Benalup (Cádiz).
Here too the fall in Chiffs has been notable.

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