04/01: Rambla Morales (Almería)

There were reports on www.rarebirdspain.net (in English and recommendable for those who are interested in the rarer birds) that the Desert Wheatear was still near to the Rambla de Morales, close to Cabo de Gata only a couple of days ago. Even though Gilly snd I will no doubt be seeing quite a few in about three weeks time, I decided to have a group visit down there. Having picked up Val, we met Brian and Mary in Retamer. We had a little walk round the Torregarcia where the bird had initially been sighted before Christmas. We did see Stonechats, Greenfinches, Serins, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Southern Grey Shrike and a Hoopoe. Out to sea were an Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls. On the beach were some Turnstones, Sanderlings and Kentish Plovers.
We then drove along the bumpy track towards Morales lake, seeing small groups of Golden Plovers. We noticed some Rangers on the beach looking out to sea at something. Curiosity took hold so we went to investigate. There were about 25 Razorbills. As we were about to leave a flight 6 Balearic Shearwaters flew past, easily seen over the flat sea. We carried on to the lake seeing a feeding group of 7 Cattle Egrets on the steppes.

We immediately saw a Little Stint on the flooded track near to where we parked. Further down was a group of feeding Sanderlings and a small number of Shovelers. Today being part of the Spanish Xmas break there were large numbers of Mountain bikers using the track and then crossing the beach by the lake. There was also a bird photographer in the water using a floating hide, which, to be honest, didn't seem to faze the water birds. He was keeping close to the reeds, photographing the Chiffchaffs. We heard the inevitable Cetti's Warbler.
On the water were Coots, Moorhens, Shovelers, White-headed Ducks, Teal, Black-necked Grebes and a couple of juvenile Greater Flamingos. Above the water Crag Martins were feeding.
37 birds for the day. Alas, no Desert Wheatear. It could've been anywhere on the 10 square kilometres of steppes! Lovely weather once the chill had gone. Great day to be out.

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