01/05 : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

1 MAY : Workers' and birders' day (every day is a birders' day!). The workers are demonstrating, the Spanish economy is meltdown (ably led by a PM who has a PhD in procrastination and cuts); everybody hates Angela Merkel - no, let's be honest, everybody hates politicians, they only love themselves; why does anybody fly Iberia or Ryanair? and so on and so forth. 
But are Dave, Gilly and the Arboleas Group affected? Not likely. They go birding, even though it's a Spanish public holiday and there are no hey-nonny-no chaps titivated with bells and ribbons (reminds of Ermintrude in The Magic Roundabout for some reason, dear things) dancing in pouring rain around the maypole on the village green. 
Actually, this arrived just in time as I am off to the USA tomorrow for birding in and around the Big Apple Parks, including Central Park (see this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVkmXQGHaIk where allegedly 113 spp. are shown! I got around 75 right without the Sibley guide) and Jamaica Bay for what the Americans call shorebirds, but as I'm a Limey, I shall call 'em waders. So there'll be nothing posted for a week (Dave's next trip) and I should have a trip report up in about 2 weeks.
It amazes me that every channel one consults about Spanish weather has a different prognosis, especially as virtually all the info. comes from the Agencia Española de Meteorología (Aemet).
I am very grateful to Mick Richardson (Loja, Granada www.lojawildlife.com/‎ ) for pointing out that the unidentified dragonfly in Dave's last missive is in fact a male of the species identified. Unfortunately his 'comment' has got lost and I also had difficulty copying over Dave's account, but all seems to be present.
 Yesterday, here in Arboleas, it poured down with rain. Brian, Mary and Adrian had worse further to the north so they decided not to come after Adrian checked his weather forecasting site which proclaimed that today's weather was dodgy. Mine said nothing of the sort so Gilly & I headed south in bright clear blue skies towards Cabo de Gata. We came off at Jct 467 of the E15 into the birding zone. Our first bird was a magnificent male Golden Oriole flying parallel to our car. We also added Pallid Swift, Jackdaw and Blackbird before reaching Pujaire where we met up with Rod and Linda for a coffee.

Common Shelduck
    As it is a Bank Holiday here in Spain, there were lots of cyclists, walkers and tourists in the area but we weren't disturbed at the first hide. There were numerous Avocets around the edges of the salina. Other waders were few and far between. Best was a Bar-tailed Godwit in full breeding plumage, closely followed by a Reeve (female Ruff). Also seen were Green Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Spotted Redshank and Dunlin. We heard Stone Curlew to our rear. There was a Southern Grey Shrike on the power line. Small birds were rare. A Zitting Cisticola was heard and an iberiae Yellow Wagtail was seen. Also added to the list were Little Tern, Little Egret and Kestrel.

     At the second hide we saw Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt, Sandwich Tern, but no small birds, so we headed for the public hide. Most of the Greater Flamingos had departed and we counted only about 40 individuals. A small number of Grey Plover were seen. The Black-necked Grebes had gone.

     We then went to "Kevin's" viewing area behind the houses. We added Audouin's Gull, Redshank and Sanderling before heading for a second coffee.
adult Night Heron 
     We then headed to Rambla de Morales. We took Rod and Linda in our 4x4 due to the bumpy, muddy track. A group of Bee-eaters greeted us. A Sardinian Warbler made an appearance. We walked along the upper sandy track towards the water, the lower track was rutted and muddy (see later). At the watery crossover we spotted a Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper. Gilly found a pair of Turtle Doves, our first of the year. On the water itself we saw Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Coot and Moorhen. A Shelduck posed nicely. Two adult Night Herons and a juvenile flew over, as did a Whiskered Tern. Also seen were a Common Sandpipers.

     On the way back we went to the rescue of two Spanish ladies who'd got their car stuck in the mud on the lower track. I was "lucky" enough to get splattered in mud head to foot by the spinning front wheel.

      What a great day it was in the sunshine. 52 species in total. Photos by Gilly.
       We send our best wishes to Helen who moved to near Torre Pacheo, near San Javier Airport. Her house got burgled whilst she was there during the night. She disturbed the intruders, but not before they stole her cameras, laptop and handbag.

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