10 February: Rambla Morales and Cabo de Gata

Before starting off with a delayed report from Dave (my fault, or rather this machine's which refused to copy it), the Solitary Sand. is still in the same place. I should also pint out that whilst some are proposing that it's the same bird seen down here at Málaga last October, I can think of several reasons why not. Also, for those of you in the frozen north, it's colder than charity down here this morning (Monday) with a lazy wind, the sort that goes through rather than round you.

Before I get on with today's report, I'd like to direct you to the Rare Birds in Spain site (www.rarebirdspain.net) where Andrew Allport has posted fantastic photos of a Solitary Sandpiper (andarríos solitario) he found in the Rambla de Almanzora on the 4th February. Just shows you what can turn up....anywhere! Having been feeling particularly low for some time, I decided to have a twitch down there yesterday as the bird had been seen still there on Monday. Saw lots of Wood (andarríos bastardo) and Green Sandpipers (andarríos grande) but alas not the Solitary one!
I digress....The winds in Arboleas overnight were horrendous, but being the boss I knew I still had to make my way with Val to Cabo de Gata. To be honest, the winds subsided substantially as we headed south. We met up with a plethora of other group members at the Pujaire plus a friend of Richard's who was on holiday, Martin from near Minsmere. The water level was reasonably high, so little chance for smaller waders to find suitable feeding areas. Of course there were hundreds of Greater Flamingo (flamenco) plus a few Shelduck (tarro blanco) and Mallard (azulón). There were small groups of Black-tailed Godwits (aguja colinegra), a Redshank (archibebe común) and some Dunlin (correlimos común). A pink Slender-billed Gull (gaviota picofina) was easy to identify at a distance. Richard then found what he thought was a dead Stone Curlew (alcaraván) on the edge of the car park. It was still alive but obviously in an extremely poor way so it was put out of its misery. Also seen were Little Egret (garceta común), Southern Grey Shrike (alcaudón real) and Sardinian Warbler (curruca cabecinegra). 
We moved on to the beach. Rollers (waves not birds) were crashing onto the sand. Audouin's (gaviota de Audouin) and Yellow-legged Gulls (gaviota patiamarilla) were seen. At the second hide we added Grey Plover (chorlito gris), Avocet (avoceta) and a raft of 20-30 Black-necked Grebes (zampullín cuellinegro). I then spotted movement on the savannah and we were pleased to see about 10 Stone Curlews (alcaraván). A Common Sandpiper (andarríos chico) was seen in the gully. I then spotted a Wigeon (anade silbón) with some Mallard (azulón). The same one from the 13th January? A steady stream of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (gaviota sombría) was now passing along the beach. Also seen were White Wagtail (lavandera blanca) and Stonechat (tarabilla común).
Heading to the public hide we saw 17 Spoonbills (espátulas), two of which were ringed. John had Greenshank (archibebe claro), Redshank (archibebe común) and Dunlin (correlimos común) on the right hand salina. On the left hand side we added Cormorant (cormorán grande). Les found 4 Sandwich Terns (charranes patinegros) on the rocky causeway.
After a coffee and tostada break in Cabo village we convoyed along the beach-side track to Rambla de Morales. The wind had got up. On the water were more Greater Flamingos together with a mall number of Shovelers (pato cuchara), Coot (focha común)and Moorhen (gallineta de agua). A single Cattle Egret (garcilla bueyera) was seen as was a flight of three Golden Plovers (chorlitos dorados). A small flock of pipits, presumably of the Meadow (bisbita pratense) variety, were feeding on the scrubland. I managed to spot the first and only Chiffchaff (mosquito común) of the day. A Cetti's Warbler (ruiseñor bastardo) was heard. A small group of Sanderling (correlimos tridáctilos)  and a pair of Turnstone (vuelvepiedras) was near the estuary.
After saying our goodbyes, Val and I headed along the "campsite" track where we had a Kestrel (cernicalo vulgar) and a Hoopoe (abubilla). Rod, Sandra and Colin who hung around the beach for their picnic also had a Kestrel (cernicalo vulgar) and some Gannets (alcatraces).
We ended up with 43 species. Not bad considering the weather! But alas no photos.

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