25 May : Caho de Gata & Rambla Morales

Dave, if you can't sleep, try counting your life list instead. You fall asleep after losing count fifteen times. Bit late for a Meadow Pipit, isn't it?
For some reason I awoke at 3am this morning and even though I counted sheep I couldn't get back to sleep. It was nice to hear Red-necked Nightjars coming from the overgrown & abandoned orange groves behind our house. So at 6.15am I departed en route to Cabo de Gata to check out the rear of the reserve before meeting up with the others at 9.30. 
I was there by 7.30, but the weather was a bit cloudy.   I came in by the southern end (where there's a new roundabout!). There was no water in the first two salinas, so it was a salt earth desert. No birds, no vegetation. Not a good start! 
I stopped to scan some old farm buildings and spotted a Little Owl. I then saw a bird of prey coming towards me. A Black Kite. And there, further along by the hide, was another one perched atop a pylon. Us here in the east of Andalusia don't often see these in our neck of the woods, so that was quite a find!  I checked out the hide, which overlooked the first bit of water. There were Ringed and Kentish Plover. Further along I saw Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull, Avocet, Shelduck and Black-winged Stilt
A Sanderling confused me a bit by being in breeding plumage. Having been recently to Extremadura I easily identified the flying Corn Bunting. I spotted a Sardinian Warbler, but a short distance further along the track I found a pair of Spectacled Warblers. A Gull-billed Tern flew by as did a pair of Stone Curlews. The only other bird of note was a Meadow Pipit.
I headed to the Pujaire for a second breakfast to await the rest of the gang. I was joined by Barrie and Beryl, Les, Colin and Sandra, Richard and John, who's recently had a successful cataract op and I was to be his eye drop nurse for the day in Gilly's absence! John had already seen Kestrel and a Woodchat Shrike on the way into the village. We headed for the first hide. We saw Mallard, Shelduck, Yellow-legged and Slender-billed Gull and, of course, Greater Flamingo (a total of 350-ish for the day) Waders were few and far between: Little Ringed and Kentish Plover and John spotted a Green Sandpiper. Les found a Stone Curlew on the scrubland. A further search provided one or two more. Sandra found a Yellow Wagtail and then a Southern Grey Shrike. Also seen were Little Egret, Jackdaw and Little Tern. As we were leaving for the second hide a Gull-billed Tern flew by.
After many negative sea watches from opposite the second hide, today I spotted 5 Cory's Shearwaters heading down the bay towards the lighthouse! We were joined by Jacky. We didn't add any new birds at the hide. Barrie, I think, spotted another Stone Curlew.
We moved to the public hide. There were loads of Avocets and the odd Kentish Plover. I found a group of three Black-necked Grebe. We also had Sandwich Tern and Thekla Lark
We adjourned to the beach side cafe in Cabo village for refreshments and spent most of the time spotting further Cory's Shearwaters passing by. I suppose we must have seen about a dozen in total. A pair of Audouin's Gull was also seen.
We then convoyed along the track towards the brackish lake in the Rambla de Morales. We struggled here to start with....a Coot! We heard Reed Warbler, but managed to see Zitting Cisticola. We saw our first & only Black Headed Gull and some Common Swift. Barrie suckered us to walk down to the dead wood area saying he'd seen a Glossy Ibis there recently, but alas nothing. He redeemed himself by spotting a pair of Grey Plovers in full breeding attire down by the beach and a Common Pochard. Unfortunately by the time we'd walked back a 4x4, followed by a walker had flushed them away. We did see Sanderling in breeding plumage plus some Kentish Plovers and chicks.
A good days birding. 46 species in total.

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