06 April : Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales

A quick intro. The Solitary Sandpiper is still believed to be at Almanzora (Almería) whilst in the west the presence of a Lesser Yellowlegs at Odiel (Huelva) is also attracting a number of twitchers. Lots of 'firsts' for the year have been reported with reports indicating fair numbers of Cuckoos. Lesser Flamingos and a White-winged Black Tern (or White-winged Tern if you prefer a recent name trend) have been seen this week at Fuente de Piedra (Málaga).
Gilly had a note excusing her from games today, so Val and I headed south along the E15 towards Cabo de Gata alone. The weather forecast said more sun than clouds, but it lied. We hardly saw the sun at all, making photography difficult, but at least there was hardly any wind. We'd already seen Hoopoe and Common Swift by the time we'd reached the cafe at Pujaire. There we met up with Trevor, Ann and Jen. John and Richard added Kestrel to the list when they arrived. After coffee we headed to the first hide. There were Black-winged Stilt on the nearest pool. As Gilly would have said, there were more Greater Flamingos than you could throw a stick at. (No sign of the previously reported Lesser Flamingos) Four Gull-billed Terns were on the causeway. Pink Slender-billed Gulls were feeding. I spotted the only two large waders, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. Also seen were Ringed and Kentish Plover, Avocet and a Greenshank which kindly flew into one of the nearer pools. Val spotted a Southern Grey Shrike on the scrubland, where John had a fleeting glimpse of a Stone Curlew. There were one or two Yellow Wagtails. I spotted a distant Shelduck.
We had a brief sea-watch over calm waters before trudging to the second hide. We only added Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. As we approached the open sided shed, sorry, the hide, we were lucky enough to see a Subalpine Warbler and a female Blackcap. A noisy Stone Curlew exited left. Richard added a Thekla Lark, but the handsome star came in the form of a male Woodchat Shrike. I spotted a Robin and a far off Shoveler.
Moving to the public hide, we came upon Jesus Contreras, a local birder and guide with two clients. Thought he'd seen a Roseate Tern on the causeway. The photo he had looked convincing. As we arrived, not our fault, all the terns took off for some reason and had re-landed. A thorough check only revealed Sandwich Terns and a couple of Common Terns. We added Redshank, Cormorant and Blackbird. John saw an Audouin's Gull as we were leaving.
After a coffee and early tostada lunch and saying goodbye to Trevor, Ann and Jen, us remaining four drove along the beachside track to the Rambla de Morales. We normally see a few Greater Flamingos here, but today there were about 70 present. We had the usual Coot and Moorhen. It was good to see a few White-headed Ducks and a Gull-billed Tern was also observed. Val and I said our goodbyes to John and Richard. With my 4x4 we made our way along the slightly sticky track towards the campsite. We added Sardinian Warbler and a Black-eared Wheatear. Before we reached the E15 we also had some Jackdaws which completed our list of 49 species for the day. A really good days birding.

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