20/03 : Rambla de Morales & Cabo de Gata + note on Las Norias

First, a brief reply to the anonymous correspondent (see previous blog of mine) who accuses me of being a twitcher. If he (she/it) bothers to look he looks carefully he will see that Fuente de Piedra is one of the sites I visit regularly. Next time, sign please, or it will not be piblished but as I suspect that I know who the source is, better he prepare himself.

Once more that Elliott-Binns chap and his followers beat me to the draw so my birding morning will be on line tomorrow, and that a day they had! I have also added a note from a friend who lives in Almería about Las Norias. My day wasn't at all bad either, but this ....

The weather north of Arboleas yesterday produced snow, which I'm sure put off some of our members. Boy, are they going to be gutted to have missed today! Gilly and I met up with Phil and Sue and Rod and Linda at the usual cafe in Pujaire before heading to the first hide at Cabo de Gata Reserve.
The water level was reasonably high and the weather was cloudy with sunny spells. Closest to the hide we could see Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits. Avocets were numerous. Also seen were Shelducks, Slender-billed Gulls, Grey Herons, Redshanks, Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints. On shore we saw Southern Grey Shrike, Black Redstart and Thekla Lark. Gilly spotted some Golden Ploverd on the grassland towards the beach.
Next we headed for the second hide. A check out to sea proved fruitless so we walked over to the hide disturbing a couple of Eurasian Curlews. I just managed to spot the head of a sleeping Spoonbill on the far side of a distant island. Gilly counted 238 Greater Flamingos. Also seen were a group of Cattle Egrets on the grassland, a distant Water Pipit and a few passing Barn Swallows. On the scrub we saw a Corn Bunting and a Blackcap.
Feeling a bit disillusioned with a lack of migrants, we made for the public hide. Here we added a Spotted Redshank, Grey and Ringed Plover. Rod managed to spot a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, the rest presumably having departed north. On the causeway to the right there were at least 60 Sandwich Terns.
Rod and Linda headed for the Visitor Centre whilst the rest of us had a coffee. We then met up beyond the Campsite. Just before we parked Phil spotted some swifts above us: Pallid and an Alpine as well. The walk towards the Rambla de Morales lake produced four Hoopoes, Chiffchaffs and Zitting Cistacola. At the lake Coot, Moorhens, Mallards and White-headed Ducks were obvious as were a few Black-necked Grebes and a single Little Grebe. Then, coming out of the dead branches in the water on the far side I spotted a Ferruginous Duck followed rapidly by a Garganey. And then it got even better! I was scanning a group of swifts and martins flying above and to the north of us. Pallid and Common Swifts, House and Sand Martins.

Then, there it was. A small swift with a white rump. I immediately called out "Little Swift!" and shouted " Follow my binoculars as I'm not losing it to find out where it is!" A couple of the group locked on to it as It disappeared north. Within 10 minutes I'd found two more in a different group. All the group found one or both of them. This time I asked Phil to try and get a record shot. Thankfully he did! ( Report submitted to SEO for confirmation).

Next a female Marsh Harrier flew over, but this was overshadowed by a Caspian Tern which did three flypasts! At the beach end we added Sanderling and Kentish Plover to the list as we were having a picnic lunch. The walk back produced Lesser Short-toed Lark, Skylark and Serin.
Cracking birds there...not so good at Cabo, but hey, I don't care!! 65 species for the day.

A note from my friend Raimundo Martín about observations from Las Norias, published in fororoa today
but dated for yesterday (19/03). Rai saw an unringed Glossy Ibis, a Temminck's Stint, Wood, Green and Marsh Sandpipers (it's being a good spring for Marsh Sands), Ruffs, Garganeys and the White-winged Black Tern that has overwintered there is still present along with 2 Whiskered Terns and a Little Gull.

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