5 March : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

If, after reading the below, from Dave, you don't think that he's a devious little chap in the eay he's
shunting Gilly off to the UK, then I'm a saint (and pigs also fly!).  However, it's nice to hear of waders moving, as I saw last Friday at Fuente de Piedra and Ron Appleby reports from the Guadaklhorce. I've seen my first Pallid Swift from the terrace and the Serins are singing, in spite of the bitingly cold wind. I really do excited about Dung Beetles, useful though they be!

All night the winds were rattling so birthday girl, Gilly, and I weren't overly confident of having a good days birding at Cabo de Gata and the Rambla de Morales. However by the time we'd picked up Val at Los Gallardos the wind had died down thankfully. We met up with Alan & John at the cafe in Pujaire before heading to the first hide. Behind us on the power line was a Southern Grey Shrike and a Corn Bunting. Later we added Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler. On the water in front of us there were Greater Flamingos, loads of Avocets, a few Black-tailed Godwits and some Slender-billed Gulls. John spotted some Grey Plovers on the savannah. I spotted a Ruff on the causeway. Also seen were Redshank, Kentish Plover, a pair of Greenshanks, Little Egret and 5 Eurasian Curlews. A couple of Stone Curlews were observed on the savannah. I spotted a pair of long distanced Spoonbills. A Hoopoe was heard. Crag Martins were overhead.
     We checked out the sea before yomping to the second hide. There were some Gannets and Alan spotted a Cormorant. At the hide "my" Spoonbills were asleep on one of the islands. I spotted a pair of Shoveler & John clocked a Shelduck. Gilly was the first to see the male Subalpine Warbler, our first of the year. Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Sardinian Warbler were also seen. A Thekla Lark posed very obligingly for the camera.
     Val spotted the first new bird at the public hide, a Black Redstart. We added Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Black-necked Grebes, a Yellow Wagtail and John saw an Audouin's Gull.
I then saw two large birds flying to the left of us, Common Cranes. Alan said, "There's a big bird to the right of them." With Gilly's help we got the scope on it. A large Eagle but very distant. Thought it might fly away unidentified, but then I glimpsed a dark tail end with white bar....a juvenile Golden Eagle. We headed for coffee, well satisfied and adding Kestrel on the way!
     After refreshments we drove along the beach track to the Rambla Morales. There was nothing at the beach end so we wandered down the track. There were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls on the water together with some Greater Flamingo. The Crag Martins were joined by a few House Martins and some Barn Swallows but in small numbers. A pair of Stone Curlews showed well, as did a Mediterranean Gull amongst the Black-heads. Val had just said about seeing Golden Plover on a previous visit when a flock of 24 flew over. Also seen were White-headed Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt and Ringed Plover.
     We ended on 53 species for the day. A brilliant day's birding. Gilly also photographed a Dung Beetle. Some local news...Les Senior saw Red-breasted Mergansers off Vera Beach and Colin Harrison saw and photographed a Bee-eater at Villaricos, a very early bird!
     Bought Gilly a weeks stay in the UK with her sisters for her birthday.....leaves tomorrow so watch this space for further bird reports this week.....while the cats away.....etc!

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