10 September: Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

Now more or less recovered from the very long and full three days in Euskadi, I think I'm nearly normal. I thank you all for your best wishes with the cataract ops., I can't say that I'm looking forward to them but they are a necessity. However, Dave, please note that I will not be able to see to post anything for at least three weeks. Meanwhile I have no doubt that I shall miss something incredibly rare. I should add that I have heard that the Dotterels are back on Las Almoladeras. You certainly had a a good day's birding.
My congratulations to Dave's and Gilly's son for getting through basic training into the Paras - you'll have to start being polite to him now, Dave!!! My son is in the depths of northern Thailand - and he's not even a birder!!! Heathen child.

Leaving Arboleas this morning there were clouds and the weather was decidedly cooler, but alas, by the time we got to Pujaire, near Cabo de Gata, to meet up with the rest of the crew the sun was out and the temperature rising! After a quick cuppa the ten of us headed for the first hide. Lots of Greater Flamingos spread over the various salinas, Gilly counting 496 later on. The causeway was filled with Slender-billed Gulls but I managed to spot an Oystercatcher amongst them. The larger waders included numerous Avocets, a few Black-tailed Godwits, a Les spotted Greenshank....to re-phrase to avoid anyone rushing to see what one looks like!........A Greenshank spotted by Les!. A Redshank. Barrie saw a Stone Curlew on the savannah and I spotted an Eurasian Curlew on a distant water's edge. A Marsh Harrier flew passed then up and away. 
There was a steady stream of Barn Swallows flying west. The only other migrants seen were a pair of Northern Wheatears on a distant fence. Of the smaller waders seen were Kentish and Ringed Plovers and Dunlin. Also seen were Southern Grey Shrike, Greenfinch, Thekla Lark and Grey Heron.
Moving on to the second hide, having easily completed a negative sea scan over the beach, we were greeted with numerous warblers in the shrubs in front of the hide. Spectacled and Olivaceous Warblers were identified, but I'm sure some got away! A couple of Reed Warblers were in the reeds below us to the right. Black Redstart was also seen. Barrie saw a Shoveler. We also added Spotted Redshank and Little Egret to the list.
We then made for the public hide. Alan spotted some Curlew Sandpipers. Gilly was sure she saw a Dartford Warbler fly past. Les added Little Stint and also seen were 4 Shelducks, Sanderling, Sandwich Tern and Black-winged Stilt.

After a much needed refreshment break we convoyed along the beach track to the Rambla de Morales. There were lots of Black-headed Gulls on the water together with Coot. On the water's edge we saw Kentish and Ringed Plover, but the stars were a Ruff and Reeve. Dunlin and an Eurasian Curlew were also seen. Walking further down Alan added Moorhen. There were 6 White-headed Ducks at the most. I was just about to do an about turn when I spotted numerous Night Herons perched atop the dead branches on the far side of the water. Ann counted 44, but when they flew off I guess there was more like 50, a mixture of young and old! A fantastic sight. Also seen were Yellow Wagtail and Sardinian Warbler. We then all departed home. Nearing the campsite we saw 7 Bee-eaters. Then after lunch Gilly and I saw at least 100 Red-rumped Swallows resting on power lines next to the cut through road to the motorway.
We ended on 51 species for the day. Migration in action! Not here next week. Gilly and I are being proud parents as my son, Joshua, is passing out into the Paras at Catterick, North Yorkshire.
I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing Andy Paterson all the best with his cataract operations.

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