05/09 : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

Long time no write, long  time not gone out (bloody knees and just too damned hot) and therefore little to no news but I hope to get down to Tarifa-La Janda in the next 48 hours beafore shoving off to Lanzarote within 10 days. I had a short break away, which included the Bird Fair where I gave the talk without receiving cries of disapproval and putrid fruits and vegs. to some 250 brave souls, signed a few of the books, and met up with friends, these including Dave and Gilly. By the by, Dave, remember that Monty's juvs. and females also have a white rump and
The massive fire, over 8.500 hectares razed, sent a frightened Jay down to Guadalhorce and the same day I had a male Sparrowhawk at home, a new garden bird, but the only other sp. of note has been a Spotted Flycatcher hanging around. 
Note that the Tarifa Bird Fair has been cancelled, I have heard various reasons but one of the main ones heard (and the official reason) is lack of interest in investment for a stand for a week by potential exhibitors - hardly surprising, given the present economic climate.
Dave and Gilly have now returned home after seven weeks away and, of course, made a bee-line for Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales, and here is their report.

After nearly seven tiring weeks in the UK, Gilly and I were looking forward to getting down to some birdwatching on our local patch. We met up with Colin and Sandra at Pujaire, the village just before Cabo de Gata Nature Reserve. At the first hide we saw that the water level was at a reasonable height for the wading birds. Lots of Ringed Plovers, outnumbering the resident Kentish Plovers by about twenty to one. No sign of any Avocets or Black-winged Stilts which was strange. We did see a few Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Dunlins, Curlew Sandpipers and individual Little Stint, Greenshank and Grey Plover. There was one Eurasian Curlew on floating weeds to the left and a couple on the right hand shoreline. We then spotted a flight of 25+ on the savannah to the right. Also seen were Grey HeronLittle and Cattle Egrets, flocks of feeding Slender-billed Gulls and, of course, Greater Flamingos. (Gilly counted 480 from the second hide). Small birds were few and far between, due, I suspect, to the blustery easterly wind keeping their heads down. Did see Red-rumped Swallow and Chiffchaff.
1st autumn Black-eared Wheatear
     On the beach was a small flock of Yellow-legged Gulls. As we walked to the second hide we saw a juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Greenfinch and Willow Warbler. At the hide spotted a few Black-winged Stilt sheltering from the wind. Little birds included a 1st winter Black-eared Wheatear and a Common Redstart. Also seen was an elusive Whimbrel and a Southern Grey Shrike.
     Moving on to the public hide, the fencing behind it provided some shelter from the wind for a Spotted Flycatcher and a possible Whitethroat. Found the Avocet! Must have been 400+ huddled together. Also seen was a Yellow Wagtail and a Sardinian Warbler.
     After a short snack break we headed to the Rambla de Morales, via the campsite. There was no sign of the Little Swift (reported last week) but numerous House Martins to get the heart fluttering! As we approached the eastern end of the lake we saw a large harrier heading over the horizon to the left. Brown with white rump. Had to be a Hen Harrier! On the water were about a dozen White-headed Duck.There were numerous Mallard and a few Teal were sheltering in the reeds.
44 species for the day. A good days birding spoilt by the wind, but very glad to be back.

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