11 September : Cabo de Gata and Rambla MoraleWhinchat

     Today Gilly and I headed south with "old" member Stan who's here on holiday for two weeks to Cabo de Gata. We met up with Rod, Linda, Tony, Kas and Kevin at the cafe in Pujaire. After coffee we made for the first hide. It was apparent immediately that there were large numbers of birds before us. The causeway was cram packed with Slender-billed and Black-headed Gulls as well as Avocets. Hiding amongst the hoards were a few Kentish Plovers.  Feeding in the water were Black-tailed Godwits but in small numbers. On the floating weed beds I spotted a Little Stint near a Black-winged Stilt and a pair of Yellow Wagtails. Kas spotted a Ringed Plover and Gilly found a pair of Eurasian Curlews on the savanna. A Little Egret was also seen. Behind us I spotted a juvenile-looking Roller on the power line. Also seen were Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, juvenile Woodchat Shrike and Greenshank. Stan had his first official Raven on top of a pylon, his previous sighting being at the Tower of London!
     Moving on to the second hide, there were some Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach but naff all on the flat sea. It was nice to see the Sea Daffodils blooming. At the hide over 200 Shovelers took off en masse. On the steppes I managed to get an Eurasian Curlew, Northern Wheatear and a Lesser Short-toed Lark in my scope all at the same time. Gilly counted 478 Greater Flamingos.
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Whinchat male
     As we approached the public hide car park in the lead car we were greeted by a pair of Whinchats on the barbwire fence. From the hide we added Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and Shelduck to the list. Gilly spotted a distant raptor on top of a pylon. Brown back, pale beige head. Osprey was discounted. If I was in Morocco, I'd plump for Long-legged Buzzard, but too distant to confirm. A Pied Flycatcher and Chiffchaff were in the shrubs as we left. Tony spotted a Grey Heron.
     As we were honoured with the presence of Kevin, we went to his viewing spot behind the next village. The salina was completely dry, so no birds there but I did manage to spot a Lesser Black-backed Gull amidst a huge flock of white/light grey unidentified gulls further to our left.
     After a second refreshment break....it was getting very hot....we made our way to the Rambla de Morales through the campsite. As we approached the parking area we saw a Kestrel. As we started to walk towards the lake I spotted movement high up in the eucalyptus tree. I just got a glimpse of a Common Redstart before it flew off. A Southern Grey Shrike was seen on a bush as we reached the water. There we found a couple of female Teal, Coot and a female Red-crested Pochard. Further up we added Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Common Pochard and White-headed Duck. There were numerous migrating Sand Martins and Barn Swallows. Gilly spotted a harrier flying low over the grassland, then the reeds. Although she took loads of photo none were good enough to be published but were good enough to identify it as a female Montagu's Harrier. As we headed back to the cars, a single Red-rumped Swallow was seen. Another Pied Flycatcher was in the eucalyptus tree.
     We had 55 species for the day. A very good days birding.

An additonal note from the Rambla Morales yesterday afternoon was sent me by an old friend, Rai Martín, who reported the seeing Golden Orioles of both sexes in the tamarisks, as well as many Willow Warblers in the Nicotiana plants along with some Bonelli's and Subalpine Warblers, as well as 3 Rufous Bushchats (or whetever they're calling them at the moment), a couple of Common Redstarts and several harriers (spp. not given),

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