4 May: Arboleas Group at Cabo de Gata; EXTRA NOTES.

I am totally tied up this week between translations and wifely problems (nobody'll take her) before I shove to the USA in the mddle of month, so I am doubly grateful to Dave for this, but please take a shufti at the BIRDING NOTE FROM HOME at the end. I may even manage to get to Fuente de Piedra on Saturday, but nothing is guaranteed.

4 May, Cabo de Gata
The weather forecast was good, so Gilly, Helen and I headed down to Cabo de Gata, meeting up with Brian, Mary, Dave and Myrtle. The recent rains had raised the water level into the shrubs in front of the first, hopefully not destroying too many ground nests. Not that many birds were on view. Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Shelducks and Slender-billed Gulls in/on the water, Kentish Plovers on the sand. Woodchat Shrike and an Iberian Yellow Wagtail were also spotted.
As the others made their way to the second hide, Gilly, Helen and I crossed over the road to see if there was water in the pond. There was, but it only attracted a Stilt. We managed to see a Willow Warbler and our first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was hunting from the Desalination Plant fence. Some Bee-eaters flew over.

At the second hide we observed Little Terns over the water. In the distance I spotted a Grey Heron and a flight of Cattle Egret. On the scrubland a solitary Northern Wheatear and a Stone Curlew were seen. As we walked back towards the beach, where Dave and Brian had seen Sanderlings, a high flying group of Grey Herons flew over.
At the public hide a count of the Greater Flamingos totalled 141 for the day. From here we parted company with the others as Gilly, Helen and I ventured round the rear of the reserve. Predictably the track was muddy, rutted and had large puddles which attracted some Common Sandpipers. Other waders on the saline water consisted of Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Red and Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. A Little Owl was spotted as was a Short-toed Eagle atop an electricity pylon.
Meanwhile the others had gone through the campsite to reach the lake at Morales. They added White-headed Duck, Whiskered Tern, Collared Pratincole and Turtle Dove to the list.
A total of 49 species for the day and it didn't rain till late afternoon!! The real Spanish summer has got to arrive soon....please!!

As noted, I have not been out at all this week for a variety of reasons but yesterday evening I added another species to my garden list (a.k.a. Andy's Important Bird Area by Antonio Tamayo) when a pair of Mallard dropped in to the swimming pool, which has been kept filled all winter. This gives me a list of more or less 112 species.

I chased them away at dusk as it is hardly an ideal situation but they have returned again this morning, have been chased away twice (we have far too many cats around) and have twice returned to bathe (L & R), graze a bit and rest in sun and now under a blanket of fog, so they shall have to chance their luck!

Hannu was down at the Guadalhorce on Monday (02/05) and amongst several good spp., saw an unprecedented one, a Green Woodpecker! An incredible record. On Wednesday (04/05) he was up at the laguna Dulce outsideCampillos and Fuente de Piedra and I quote him directly : Ready at the beginning (just before 9 o'clock) it was clear what the bird of the day was: Common Swift. The airspace of northern end of the Laguna was literally full of them! I estimated more than 10000! Later at Laguna Dulce further 5000 birds too. Enormous numbers. Thanks, Hannu!

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