Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Cabo de Gata and Los Norias Laguna, Almeria Province.

A cracking days birding with friends Ellie and David.

I met Ellie and David at Plaza Mayor in Malaga and the we headed East in Davids motor (thanks for driving David), on our way there we started the list off with a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and as we drove through Retamarwe saw several Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) feeding ove a man made pool as well as Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica).
Our first stop was near to Torre Garcia where we found around 20 or so winter plumaged Eurasian Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) feeding in amongst the low growing plants and stones just inland from the beach. In the same area we picked up Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). Once the Dotterel had walked on past us we drove a little further on and parked where we had some breakfast and checked what was out to sea and found Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), a single flyby Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and a single Cory's Shearwater (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) but only David got on to this bird. As we were driving out of the site and making our way around to Rambla Morales we made a stop for some plants which we saw including the purple flowered Lycium intricatum, Fleshy-leaved Thymelaea (Thymelaea hirsuta), Launea lanifera and Salsola opositifolia. and whilst Ellie and I were photographing ease David had a Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) fly past but again we missed it.
We also called in at the hide at the Northern end of the saltpans and found the first Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) of the day as well as Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax), Red Knot ( Correlimos Gordo / Calidris canutus) and Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina).
We moved from the hide and made our way along the beach to the seaward end of the pool at the Rambla and straight away we saw good numbers of waders including Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and a Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica). On the water we picked up quite a few new species for the day including 2 eclipes Tufted Ducks (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), 2x female Northern Pintails (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), 50+ Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and another 100 or so Greater Flamingo's. Whilst we were watching the water species we had a Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) fly over along with a large Gull species with a black head which got the heart beating a bit but when we checked the photographs it was just a Yellow-legged that had been feeding in something unpleasant. In the same area we had a Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and several  Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies on their way south.
The wind on the beach was cutting and cold so we retreated to the car and headed for the hides along side the salinas seeing a smart Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) on the way. We parked by the beach and checked the first of the three hides and as we walked out across the dune type habitat we saw 2 Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax). Out on the water and mud we found quite a few new species including several fine Slender-billed Gulls (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and 2x Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope). 
We unintentionally missed the second hide but retuned to it after the far hide, before we went out to the far hide we checked some birds in the beach side vegetation. Most were Greenfinches but we also had at least two Trumpeter Finches (Camachuelo Trompetero / Bucanetes githagineus) come up and fly over us and away. From the hide we did quite well again adding Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Spotted Redshank (Archibebe Oscuro / Tringa erythropus), Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) and over 100 Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
On our way down to the middle hide David found several spikes of Narcissus obsoletus growing in the path which was a new species for both Elle and Myself and a stunning looking plant. Once Ellie and I had took lots of photographs of the plant we reached the hide where David had found 2x Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola) and then we had a nice Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) show for us several times.
We drove out to the lighthouse next but only picked up Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) but had large numbers of Cory's Shearwaters passing at sea.
Our last stop of the day was on the way back along the motorway amongst the plastic hell hole of Los Norias where we scanned the large lake from two points and located Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) x3M &1F, Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) x4.
We travelled back along the motorway to Plaza Mayor and on the way we finished the list off with Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and a very late Swift species but the light was fading fast by the time we saw this and identification was not possible.
Thanks to Ellie and David for a cracking day during which we saw around 90 species in total.

Photographs from the top: 5x Eurasian Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus), Lycium intricatum, Salsola opositifolia, Launea lanifera, Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica), Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), 2x Narcissus obsoletus, Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura).

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