4 January 2011, Cabo de Gata

Dave Elliott-Binns continues his valiant search for Slender-billed Curlews in Almería with an effort worthy of Britain's best , although I must admit that personally I feel that he would be better employed throwing snowballs at the moon. Let's hope I'm wrong!

Good job you didn't run over the Wryneck, Dave! Would you have admitted it and risk being blackballed? Or do you subscribe to the Groucho Marx theory that you wouldn't want to belong to any club that would accept you as a member?

Whatever, herewith his account of his visit today. I shall post mine about my today's visit to Fuente de Piedra some time tomorrow.

Continuing the search for an elusive Slender-billed Curlew I arrived at the 1st hide at Cabo de Gata just as dawn was breaking. The water level had receded slightly and the weather forecast was reasonably good with light winds & no rain. The back and white birds became identifiable first:Avocet, Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt and of course the numerous Greater Flamingos. 12 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding close to the water's edge in front of me. As the sun was about to show itself over the mountains I heard a very recognisable call as 4 Common Cranes flew passed the hide travelling north. Shortly after 12 Eurasian Curlews followed suit but further to the west two large birds flying caught my eye - Grey Herons, but more interestingly was the large white bird just below them, a Spoonbill.
I then moved to the pool on the opposite side of the road. 10 more Black-tailed Godwits, a Teal, a Snipe, Stonechats and a pair of Southern Grey Shrikes were the best birds. On the road to Cabo village a pair of Cattle Egrets were standing guard on a pylon and a Green Sandpiper flew past. Opposite the Moorish Tower I drove along a track in the area I had seen 2 Eurasian Curlews and 2 Godwits land, making sure I didn't cross into reserve land. Didn't find what I was looking for but did see 3 Ringed Ploverd. On the beach further up were Kentish Plovers and a Gannet out to sea.
At the second hide a raft of 100+ Slender-billed Gulls were feeding, some showing a nice pink colour. The Spoonbill was snoozingand a Spotted Redshank landed in the water filled dyke to the right. A single Stone Curlew sunned itself on the steppes.

A line of small birds on the fencing was waiting for me as I arrived at the public hide parking area. Trumpeter Finches with some Greenfinches. What a welcome! From the hide itself I saw more Spotted Redshank, a Ruff and at least 35 Black-necked Grebes.
Picked up a group of Sanderlings on the beach before heading round the rear of the reserve. Nothing of note on the wader front but saw Chiffchaff, Water Pipit, Crag Martin and Dartford Warbler.

What a great start to the year. 53 species. Plus nearly ran over a Wryneck on my driveway a few days before. Hoping my luck continues!

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