22/6/16

22 June : Caba de Gata and Rambla Morales

As Dave so rightly comments, summer is not only a-coming in, it's arrived! Mind you, so has a Slatey Junco at Algeciras, a probable hitchhiker on some vessel from the States. This, therefore, will probably be the last post for a while although there may well be two or three to cover my summer trip up to Spitsbergen and which will appear before the middle of August.
So, dear and faithful readers, have a good summer under 50 factor sunburn cream and if you're going to Britain, take your woollies. As the max. temp. in Spitsbergen a couple of days since was -5ºC (yes, minus 5), I am taking some very warm gear!
Many thanks, Dave, for all your efforts and reports over the year and I'm so pleased to see that you've taken Gilly out! And don't force yourself in to going out too much, I'd hate to think of you tiring yourself before the autumn!

For our ultimate day out, prior to the summer heat, we decided to make our way to Cabo de Gata. I managed to get Gilly out of bed at the crack of dawn so we got to the far end of the reserve by 8am. We'd already logged Jackdaw and Southern Grey Shrike by the time we started along the sometimes bumpy track going round the rear of the salinas. We spotted Blackbird, Crested Lark and Red-rumped Swallow before we came to some water. Through a break in an earth bank I could see a small number of Audouin's Gulls at rest. In the salina after the hide we found Greater Flamingo and Avocet. At the ternery I counted at least 15 sitting Gull-billed Terns and a lesser number of Little Terns. The Gull-billed Terns seem to be having a good year in our area. Gilly spotted a pair of flying Stone Curlews. We also had Shelduck and Black-winged Stilts and Gilly found a very bedraggled looking Raven. We saw at least 3-4 more Southern Grey Shrikes. Further along perched on a siempre verde hedge, Gilly spotted a Woodchat Shrike which posed superbly. We completed our early morning list with Hoopoe and a family of Sardinian Warblers.
We met up with John and Richard at the Pujaire cafe. After a couple of cups of coffee we headed to the first hide. Here we saw Greater Flamingo, Avocet and Mallard. There were no little waders round the rear of the reserve, but here we saw a small number of Kentish Plovers. Gull-billed and Little Terns were out feeding. House Martins, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows passed by.
There was nothing seen out to sea. Small white horses were appearing as the wind from the east increased in strength. We walked to the second hide from which Gilly counted 686 Greater Flamingos. She also spotted a pair of Little Egrets and some sheltering Redshank and I found a Shelduck.
Moving to the public hide, Gilly was the first to see now two bedraggled looking Ravens on the steppes! We added Slender-billed Gulls from the hide. Gilly found 4 Black-necked Grebes and John spotted a White Wagtail. We had a Common Swift on the way to Cabo de Gata village for a refreshment break.
The beach was full of children enjoying themselves. The holiday season had also brought out the Guardia Civil in good numbers. The sign of the times unfortunately.
We made our way to the Rambla Morales. The wind was very strong. We found some Kentish Plover and chicks plus a Black-winged Stilt by the "estuary". The water in the brackish lake was choppy. A male White-headed Duck showed well despite the waves. The black on his white head reminded us of the pure black headed one John found a few years ago. Yes, a black headed White-headed Duck. Strange but true! There were 20 Greater Flamingos here plus a few Coots. Gilly and I left John and Richard to it as we made our way out via the campsite. We added Moorhen, Bee-eater and Greenfinch to complete the days list. 37 species in all. A good day's birding despite the hot & windy weather. No group birding trips are planned till September, but no doubt I might be forced to go somewhere before then!
Gilly and I dropped in to see Val and Rob on the way back home. He's lost a bit of weight as has Val. He'd like to eat much more but his dietary restrictions don't allow it. Things are looking good. 
Regards, Dave