13 March : Cabo de Gata and Ruddy Duck appeal

Another missile - sorry, missive - from Dave before the cat (a.k.a. Gilly) returned from Blighty to nail him to the wall. I have two write-ups to do myself but those will have to wait until the weekend as I am still sorting out photos and labelling them for the talks in Málaga and the Doñana Bird Fair as well as fitting in the England-Italy game in the Six Nations. Life is full but first an appeal.
RUDDY DUCK : Back in late February a male Ruddy Duck was seen on three consecutive dates at the laguna Dulce, Campillos (Málaga), it disappeared and then reappeared again at the same site in early March  and has not been seen since then, in spite of intensive searching by personell from Medio Ambiente. I'm sure that you all know about the elimination of Ruddy Ducks in the UK and in Spain because of the hybrisation problem. Therefore I ask that if the bird is spotted then you get in touch with me a.s.a.p., or with the Manolo Rendón at Fuente de Piedra, giving the site name, with GPS position if you have that capability. Basically, if this male takes up with a female White-headed, both will have to be eliminated to avoid the hybrid risk.

     The "cat" was flying in to Almeria Airport at 10.20am so the "mouse" had only a short time to "play"!
I left the house at 6am and was drinking Thermos coffee at the first hide at Cabo de Gata as the sun appeared over the mountain by 7.30am. All the usual suspects were there: Greater Flamingos, Slender-billed Gulls and Avocets were the most numerous. There were 2 Eurasian Curlews on the causeway and I counted 55 Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the shallows. Obligingly a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits flew over to feed quite close to the hide. Waders also seen were Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Kentish Plover and Grey Plover, either singles or in small numbers. The only wildfowl I saw were a small group of Mallard and a flight of 5 Shelduck. Small land birds included Crested Tit, Spotless Starling, Greenfinch and Stonechat. A Kestrel was also spotted behind near the pumping station and an adult Gannet out to sea. There were a few Barn Swallows but not a heavy "fall" yet.
     As I had a time constraint, I skipped the trudge to the second hide and headed for the public hide. I added Cormorant and Yellow-legged Gull to the list. Also seen were a pair of Sardinian Warblers and a female Black Redstart. I left there and, as I was in my 4x4, headed round the rear of the reserve. The track was in a reasonable state. Dry, but a few areas where it was bumpy. There were numerous Corn Buntings and Crested Larks. I added Greenshank to the wader list. On one of the distant farm buildings I spotted two Little Owls. However when I got down to near the end of the track another one was observing me from the top of a wall. Also seen were Hoopoe, Robin and White Wagtail.
 I just had time for a café and tostada in Pujaire before heading for the airport.

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