9 March, an appeal; Cabo de Gata, and any other business

First the appeal
A Libyan lad who is doing his doctorate on Lesser Crested Terns at Hull Univ. (UK, not Canada) has appealed for any sightings and readings of colour ringed birds from the colonies which are in Libya. There are, I believe, about 1.800 pairs in three colonies (or there were) and some have been fitted with the darvic plastic rings with individual alpha-numeric codes and he would love to hear if any are seen and read. One was seen last autumn at Melilla so it's not impossible. The usual info: ring colour, code, which leg, date, time and place and your name and e-mail address which I will forward.

And now, folks, what you've all been eagerly awaiting: another instalment in Dave's fruitless search for Slender-billed Curlews down at Cabo de Gata. Mind you, if he does find one then half the twitchers in Europe will descend on the place having first googled it before going to goggle at it. If you do, Dave, just remember your friends and I can be there in less than 3 hours, or better still, suppress the record and just tell your friends so that they can verify it. I must admit that I am not in the least surprised that the search teams that Nicola sent (sprayed) out along the North African coast found nothing, it was a needle in a haystack job, but I am surprised that all have returned safe and alive, given the political situation across there. I don't think many of us will be going to Libya for the hols. this year. Scunthorpe will probably be safer, albeit hardly as exotic.

Here is his account of Wednesday, which down at this end was pretty vile and the dog slept for most of the day - not that there's anything new in that but it's her reply to rain.

The weather forecast 38% chance of rain today, but the following two days were the same. I left Arboleas early again to get to Cabo de Gata at first light. I actually got to the first hide TOO early and was glad to have a warming cuppa as the gusty wind and heavy drizzle battered the truck. The precipitation subsided luckily as visibility got better. I was amazed to see that there were very few Greater Flamingos present on the two large expanses of water before me. It didn't take me long to count the 22 in vision! As I did so I saw 5 large birds flying low towards me - Common Cranes heading in a northerly direction. Counting the birds was easy .... Cormorants 16, Mallard 4, Redshank 3, Black-tailed Godwits 31 and Avocets nil! Suddenly all the hunkered down birds took to the air.
A male Peregrine Falcon made flying in the gale look easy. My first thought was , "Thanks, mate. All the birds have gone now", but soon a large flock of small waders landed on the water's edge. Took me some time to properly identify them. There were 75 young Curlew Sandpiper with the odd Sanderling as well. A few Kentish Plovers and a pair of Ringed Plovers were also seen.
I then checked behind me and saw a female Marsh Harrier quartering over the pool on the opposite side of the road. I made my way over there, knowing in the back of my mind it would be a waste of time because whatever birds were there would surely have skedaddled at the sight of the approaching raptor looking for her breakfast. I was not wrong....not only no birds but the amount of water there had been reduced significantly since last week.
As I drove towards the beach through the village of Cabo de Gata I saw both Barn Swallows and House Martins. I kept well below the new national speed limits as I closely scanned the grassland for Eurasian Curlews. Some movement brought me to a halt. I'd found two. As I watched them a small group of just arrived Pallid Swifts were making heavy weather against the gusty wind. I was in two minds as to whether I should go to the second hide. Glad I did though as I put up 5 Black-winged Stilts in the dyke. The Spoonbills were still there, now up to 9 in number. As I got back to the car I glanced back and I'm sure I saw the Common Cranes returning, beaten back by the NE winds.
There was nothing of note at the public hide except the fact there were lots of Greater Flamingos trying to find what shelter they could. I did spot a couple of Sand Martins over the grassland. I then headed round the rear of the reserve. The track was good, but the birding was poor with Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff and Southern Grey Shrike.
36 species for the day. Not a good number, but some good birds in there. Sorry, no photos this week....conditions terrible and no opportunities.
I e-mailed Nicola Crockford at the RSPB last week regarding the time frame of the Slender-billed Curlews northerly migration: until the end of March. The search teams have returned from the wintering grounds of North Africa with no luck. It's not looking good.
A.O.B My friend Andrés Serrano also saw a male Northern Wheatear up the río Fuengirola on Tuesday. Another local birder, who never sends in rarity records or tells anybody of anything so that they can see and inform, saw 3 Cream-coloured Coursers upstream of the Guadalhorce last week, but knowing them it'd be a case of here now and gone in 5 minutes, which has been my experience with them down here. The first Nightingales are in and singing in the Strait area and there seems to be a trickle of Pallid Swifts coming through and there has been a claim of Common Swift.

And now, with the wind howling and a heavyish sea running, I am going to take the dog for a walk that neither us will overly enjoy but both need and tomorrow we are hoping to go to the laguna Dulce at Campillos and Fuente de Piedra.

Beware the Ides of March!

No hay comentarios: