A day down on the dunes and saltpans.
We got off early and spent most of the time driving down to Almeria in the dark, we got to the outskirts of the city and stopped at a petrol station where we started the day list off with Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
Once we were fuelled and looed we headed down towards the coast and out on to a track down to the beach where we parked and had a walk along the beach. During the walk we saw Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), Southern Grey (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and out on the beach and at sea we also saw Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Sandwich (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and Little Terns (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons) and Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus). Once back at the car we drove the tracks in the area and I was suprised but very pleased to find a group of at least 17 Eurasian Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) with some of the birds still in good condition. We also saw Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), several Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope), a single Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger) and quite a few Spiny-footed Lizards (Acanthodactylus erythrurus).
We headed down to the road towards the town of Cabo de Gata and had a look from the hide at the Northern end of the lagoons which is unfortuntly a long way back from the water. From here we added Pied Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus), Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Greater Flamingo´s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) and Slender-billed Gull (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei).
From here we moved further south to the coastal strip between the sea and the saltpans where we looked for Trumpeter Finch (Camachuelo Trompetero / Bucanetes githagineus) with out any luck. We did not see anything of interest alon the coast so we had a look at the southern hide where we saw several species we had at the first hide but added Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
We then drove out towards the light house and then turned up towards the high cliffs of Cerro de Vela Blanca, on the way we had a couple of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and at the top of the road we saw a group of 3 Sparrowhawks (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), a migrating Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and down on the rocks way below a roosting Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis).
We dropped back down off the ridge and after seeing the number of tourists at the lighthouse we gave it a miss and drove back down to the saltpans where we took the back track around the pans, on the way round we saw Crested and Thekla Larks, Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Barn Swallows, Slender-billed Gull, House Martin, Pallid Swift, Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Greater Flamingo´s, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Avocet and Kentsh Plover.
We finished the drive along the back of the pans and went to first hide where we added Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus) and Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba).
Our last stop in the Cabo de Gata area was at Rambler Morales where we checked the area near the beach pool and soon found a very nice male White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), a goup of immature Greater Flamingo´s, lots of Eurasian Coots, Common Moorhens, a fast flying Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Mallard, Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Audouin´s Gull, Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and 2 Pied Oystercatchers which flew in and landed on the beach.We left the Cabo de Gata early afternoon and drove back up the motorway until we reached the turning up to Puerto de la Ragua where we checked out the pine woods at the pass, after a short search we found a Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla), lots of Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus) and single male Citril Finch (Verderón Serrano / Serinus citrinella) our main target bird. After checking the area we headed back down to the motorway and the back to the house.
Photographs from the top: Male Eurasian Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus), Female Eurasian Dotterel, group of Slender-billed Gulls (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Greater Flamingo´s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) and Pied Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus).