16 March, Cabo de Gata

From Dave, the second of todays offerings. Dave also adds that if any reader has mislaid a lens cap for a large Nikon optic, he found one there. If it's yours, write to me and I'll send you Dave's adddress.

Another early start as I left the house at 0545 hrs to get to the first hide at Cabo de Gata by first light. For the first time this year I didn't have to wrap myself up like Nanook of the North as I drank my coffee in the hide. Hardly a cloud in the sky and not too much wind. They'd obviously had quite a bit of rain as the water level had risen and there were large puddles in the carpark. The Greater Flamingo numbers had increased in the two expanses of water in front of me from the 22 last week in the high winds to 80 today. The Avocets had returned from their hidden shelter as well. Numerous Shelducks were spotted about in random pairs and in the distance I could make out 7 Spoonbills at rest. No sign of the Common Crane.

On the causeway I could see an Eurasian Curlew calling. It was joined by another two. Also there were 8 Grey Plovers and some Dunlin. Far off I could see the Black-tailed Godwit flock, 34 in total. To the right there was a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits with Little Stints, Ringed and Kentish Plovers. A Sardinian Warbler posed beautifully in front of the hide.

Going to the pool on the opposite side of the road, the water level had also risen, but it only attracted a solitary Redshank. A pair of Kestrels sat on the desalination building. Hopefully they'll nest in one of the ventillation holes as they did last year. There was about 2 tons of tomatoes dumped there, so I filled a carrier bag full of green ones for Gilly to make pickle....got 8kgs!

There was a westerly offshore breeze so the sea was quite choppy as I headed towards the second hide. The sound of Corn Buntings was clearly heard. All told I must have seen 20 - 30 sitting on bushes. I saw small numbers of Barn Swallows and Crag Martins, much less than I expected and no swifts. Only gained Black-winged Stilt and Greenfinch for the day list from the hide.
As I walked towards the public hide I looked back towards the beach and saw a Raven flying along it. Also en route saw one of the two Stonechats of the day. From the hide saw a pair of Yellow Wagtails. Heading further along the beach I saw a small flock of Sanderling feeding, as were a few Sandwich Terns in the breakers.
As I thought, the track round the rear of the reserve was full of deep puddles, around which I disturbed another pair of Yellow Wagtails. Only added Greenshank to my wader list. Ended the day with 40 species. Expected more to be honest. Saw better birds in the howling gale last week.

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