09 December : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

Many apologies for the delay in getting this out, Dave. Are Monk Parakeets uncommon in your area? If they are, can we export you few thousand? As for the Barn Swallow, as I write a message has come in that Barn Swallows were seen on La Janda (Cádiz) today, Sunday.

Slender-billed Gull
Gilly and I picked up a new birder to the group, Steve Daniel, before we headed down to Cabo de Gata. As we passed through Retamar Sur we clocked a pair of Monk Parakeets (cotorra monje) sitting in a tree. Before we got to the meeting point in Pujaire we'd also added Jackdaw (grajilla), Stonechat (tarabilla común)and Kestrel (cernicalo vulgar). After a coffee, together with 6 other members we headed to the first hide. The water level was quite high so no space available for smaller waders. We did however see a total of 6 Curlew Sandpipers (correlimos zarapitín) and some Redshanks (archibebe común). The sun was not at a good angle, but Gilly managed to find that a strange bird call belonged to a Southern Grey Shrike (alcaudón real), seen through the sun's rays. Smaller birds seen included a passing (overwintering?) Barn Swallow (golondrina común) and Black Redstart (colirrojo tizón) and Sardinian Warbler (curruca cabecinegra). I managed to find a group of distant Spoonbills (espátula europea). Gilly then saw an Eurasian Curlew (zarapito real) landing on the savannah to the right. There we also saw a small feeding group of Golden Plovers (chorlitos dorados). Also seen were Slender-billed Gull (gaviota picofina) and Mallard (azulón).
Crested Lark
An initial scan of the sea opposite the second hide only produced Black-headed (gaviota reidora) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (gaviota sombría). We made our way to the hide seeing Linnet (pardillo), Greenfinch (verderón)and Crested Lark (cogujada común). We added Little Egret (garceta común), Black-tailed Godwit (aguja colinegra), Cormorant (cormorán grande) and Shoveler (pato cuchara) from the hide and Kevin spotted some Dunlin (correlimos común), whilst Alan spotted Black-winged Stilt (cigüenuelas)and some distant Black-necked Grebes (zampullín cuellinegro). Gilly counted 505 Greater Flamingos (flamenco). Returning to the vehicles, Kevin sighted a Sandwich Tern (charrán patinegro).
As we got out of the cars at the public hide a Chiffchaff (mosquitero común) was seen. I saw a Corn Bunting (triguero) and Gilly was the first to see a Dartford Warbler (curruca rabilarga) shushing away a pair of Stonechats (tarabilla común). From the hide we added Avocets (avocetas), a raft of 60+ Black-necked Grebes (zampullín cuellinegro) and some 20 odd Spoonbills (espátulas), of which at least 4 appeared to have been ringed. John and some of the others checked out the shoreline to the right of the causeway. They saw Greenshank (archibebe claro), Sanderling (correlimos tridáctilo), Little Stint (correlimos menudo) and Dunlin (correlimos común). Shelduck (tarro blanco) were also seen.
We stopped at the Cabo village beach cafe for refreshments. We seawatched as we ate, seeing Turnstone scuttling along the shore, an Audouin's Gull and a mad woman out for a swim!
We convoyed along the beach-side track to Rambla Morales. A bird photographer was working the waders in the estuary mouth so we didn't disturb him. The lucky devil was within a few metres of Sanderling (correlimos tridáctilo), Dunlin (correlimos común), Ringed Plover (chorlitejo grande)and Black-winged Stilt (cigüeñuela). On the water, the level of which was back to normal levels since Alan and John's last visit, only had a few birds thereon and mostly round the reed edges. Coot (focha común), Moorhen (gallineta de agua), Mallard (azulón) and Shoveler (pato cuchara). I spotted a nice male Teal (cerceta común) and Kevin saw a couple of Little Grebes (zampullín chico) There were two immature Greater Flamingos(flamencos) and a pink tinged Slender-billed Gull (gaviota picofina). As Gilly, Steve and I were leaving we saw a probable Whimbrel (zarapito trinador) fly over. We also saw a flying Cattle Egret (garcilla bueyera) to make the total number of species seen today 49.
A good day's birding in good company. 

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