10 December : Cabio de Gata & Rambla Morales

News from Almería of the Arboleas Group's visit to Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales. I have very recebtly heard that the operations ar the salt pans are shutting down but that the Spanish Ornithologica Society are endeavouring to see what can be done to maintain them in some sort of order adequate for waders and so on.

We could not have asked for a better day, weather wise, as Val, Gilly and I headed south along the E15 towards Almeria. Blue skies and a minimal wind. We met up with eight others group members at the Pujaire cafe before making our way to the first hide. As I looked towards the rocky causeway I could see a small expanse sandy rocky beach meaning the water level had dropped some 12" or so. I also noted a distinct lack of waders. Yes there were some Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and a single Redshank, but not alot else. Gilly did spot a Turnstone, but small waders, there were none. Kev spotted a Great White Egret right in the middle of the salina. A Southern Grey Shrike was seen over to the right perched on the stump of a cut century plant stalk. Beyond it, out to sea, I spotted an adult Gannet. Other land birds seen included Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Hoopoe and Chiffchaff. A man walking on the savanna caused about half a dozen Eurasian Curlew to show themselves.
We convoyed to the second hide. A short seawatch proved fruitful as I spotted 5 Balearic Shearwaters heading south. We then wandered over to the hide. First seen was a Grey Heron. Then a group of Spoonbills appeared from behind the island. They later took to the air and we counted 10 individuals. Gilly counted 150 Greater Flamingos. Also seen were Little Egrets, Shelducks and 89 Black-necked Grebes. A Cormorant was seen flying along the beach.
A slight disaster awaited us at the public hide......Two coach loads of kindergarten kids. Looking through the fence we added Sandwich Tern, Lesser Black-backed Gull and at last some small waders....Dunlin, Sanderling, Little Stint and Kentish Plover.
We retreated to the Cabo beach cafe for a cuppa before heading along the beach track to the Rambla Morales. The beach end had recently been breached but had already sealed itself. There were numerous Shoveler, Coot and Moorhen but only singles of White-headed Duck and Gadwall, both females. Both Little and Black-necked Grebe were seen.
We saw a total of 42 species. A good days birding. As Gilly, Val and I headed back towards the campsite my attention was pricked by movement in the reeds on the far side of the pool. At least 3 Wild Boar
As you can see,I've nearly sorted out the Camera/Photos/Computer problem. Thank you, Stephen Powell, for your input.

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