13/11 : Guadalhorce ; 14/11: Cabo de Gata

I have not had the time to write up the excellent morning I had down at the Guadalhorce on Tuesday morning because of double family emergencies on Wednesday morning, including an urgent op. on the old dog who burst a papilloma under a pad, with blood all over the place. As an encore the vet removed 6 more from various parts of her anatomy. She has recovered rapidly, especially if there is food around. 
 I digress. However, along with David and Ann Jefferson from Nerja and their friend Paul from the Mull of Galloway (not been there in nearly 50 years!) along with his lovely springer spaniel Ellie, who was beautifully behaved. We talked a lot, which probably explains the low species list as I didn't log, and saw and had good views of Osprey (1), Booted Eagle (1), Peregrine Falcon (1), Kestrel (2) and Booted Eagle (2, perhaps 3), and a couple of Marsh Harriers. No waders at all because of very high water levels; no ducks to speak of and only 3White-headed and a few Shoveler. A flock of Siskins and nothing brilliantly outstanding except missing a Bluethorat that showed to everyone else in the reserve that morning but not to us and a flight of Golden Plovers which were well out of our range. 
20/11 : A QUICK APOLOGY to David who has pointed out that in the above I missed out on the presence of a spelndid Short-eared Owl and that of this date the htree of them saw a super little male Bluethroat down at the ponds.
All of this makes Dave's full report from Cabo de Gata on Wednesday more welcome. As a comment, I have the impression that that this is a good autumn/early winter for Black Redstarts and there is no lack of Reed Buntings either. Reports are coming in of lots of good raptor watching on La Janda and Fuente de Piedra is worth a visit at the moment (actually, it nearly always is!).

After a couple of weeks of miserable, grey, drizzly weather it was nice to be driving down to Cabo de Gata in sunshine with the odd cloud. Gilly and I met up with 10 other members including Phil and Sue who popped over from the UK for a short holiday. Brian and Mary saw a Common Buzzard near to Pujaire.
     After a coffee and tostada  we headed for the first hide. Unsurprisingly the water level was very high, leaving little room for waders to feed on the muddy edges. We did manage to see Avocet, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Redshank and a couple of Knot. There were also Slender-billed Gull, Little Egret and of course Greater Flamingo. (Gilly later counted 373 from Hide 2). On the smaller bird front, there were numerous Stonechats, Spotless Starlings, a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes, Sardinian Warblers, Black Redstart and a Robin. On the savanna to our right we spotted Eurasian Curlew and a flight of Golden Plover
     At the second hide we saw more Curlews and about 6 Stone Curlews together with Black-tailed Godwits.

In the shrubs we observed Serin, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Corn Bunting and Chiffchaff. Shelduck and Mallard were the only wildfowl we saw. We did add Black Winged Stilt & a single Barn Swallow to the list. Back at the beach a steady stream of Balearic Shearwaters were heading towards a couple of fishing boats. Saw at least 30 in total. A adult Gannet was also seen.
     As a coach load of schoolkids was being dropped at the public hide, we reverted to plan B and made for the lighthouse, seeing Kentish Plover on the way. Adding only Black-Headed and Yellow-legged Gulls to our total we drove in convoy back. Leading, we spotted a small bird flying on to a roadside rocky bank. Stopping we saw it was a Trumpeter Finch (Yes, Mike, they do exist!) Unfortunately not all the group managed to see it before it flew off. 
     Getting back to the public hide we waited till the noisy horde had departed before seeing what, if anything, had stayed put. Lots of Lesser Black-backed Gulla were at rest. On the wader front we added Sanderling, Grey Plover and Greenshank, plus another pair of Knot. As well as more Stonechats, a skulking Reed Bunting was seen as was a pair of Dartford Warblers.
     We ended up with a respectable 48 species. Great to be birding again in decent weather.

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