Three ups and one annoying down!
Jayne and I made a very last minute decision to go down to Cabo de Gata for the day, I had wanted to go for a while and a tiling job I was hoping to finish was being held back by these very cold nights which gave us an unexpected free day.
We got off early and headed straight to a small town we had visited a good many years ago called Nijar, on our last trip there we had found lots of craft type shops. I had been back since that trip but Jayne had not so we sent a couple of hours having a look around.
We then headed for Torre Garcia where a male Desert Wheatear (Collalba Desértica / Oenanthe deserti) had been hanging around for a while, we arrive and dug the flask and sandwiches out and before I had finished mine I had located the Wheatear in a fenced off area right on the coast. I moved around the fence line and had some cracking views of this very smart bird; this was the first of the UPS for the day and then came the big down. The bird had posed very nicely on to of one of the small bushes and I got the camera out, switched it on and nothing happened. I tried again but still nothing, I had fully charged the battery the night before so that was not the problem. The only other camera I had with me was the Coolpix S10 but it’s 10x zoom makes it next to useless for digiscoping so the shots I did get are not good. Anyway the bird showed well and at some points came to with in just a few meters, in the same area there were also good numbers of Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) at one point I could see 6 birds at the same time, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and masses of Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis).
Out at sea good numbers of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and
Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) were fishing and there were also lots of Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), a few Lesser Black-backs (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and a single Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).
We then moved a way south along the tracks along the coast and again parked by the beach, Jayne continued collecting some of the more colourful stones and I walked off on one of the tracks. I had soon added a flock of Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) to the list along with a few Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and about a dozen or so Calandra’s (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), along with Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and just as I was about to turn around and walk back along the beach I picked up a group of birds moving through the track side vegetation. This flock of fifteen Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) were my second Spanish lifer of the day and were showing very well till a couple of joggers came past and flushed the lot. They appeared to land further into the scrub a 100 meters of so further on down the track so I went back to Jayne along the beach to get the car and see if we could get better views using it as a hide. On the walk back I saw several Sanderlings (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), a couple of Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) and the only Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) of the day. Once in the car we drove along the track and relocated the Dotterel right next to the wooden fence which bordered the track and we had some fantastic views of these cracking little waders. We then made our way back to Torre Gracia and picked up Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) on the way. Our next stop was at the roadside hide on the Northern edge of the Saltpans, here there were the expected Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Slender-billed Gulls (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), these birds were joined by lots of Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) and singles of Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta). We then parked along the long straight beach road and I had a walk out to the first hide where I added Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) all three standing in a row like a police Id parade. Just as I got back to the car I heard the call I had been hoping for and quickly homed in on a small flock of 6 Trumpeter Finches (Camachuelo Trompetero / Buccanetes githagineus) which were sat down low in a small hollow trying to stay out of what was by now a cool strong wind coming in off the very black looking sea. There four males and a couple of females, even in the winter the bright orange / pink bills of the males stand out well and typically they sat there on a couple of dead stick right out in the open, they can tell when you have not got a camera!. These cracking little birds are quite as uncommon as the last two of the ups but they were a very pleasing find.
I then continue on to the large hide and had a scan from there but only added a single Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) to the day list.
Almost as annoying as the camera not working this morning was the fact that when I got it home I took the battery out again (as I had earlier several times) and put it back in again and the BLEEPING thing worked and has continued to do so.
Photographs from the top: 2x Desert Wheatear (Collalba Desértica / Oenanthe deserti), Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus), Ononis natrix subsp natrix, Sand Lotus (Lotus creticus), Lobularia maritima and Silene littorea.