It was a bright and sunny Monday morning when we met Ian and Ailleen at the Blanca Brisa hotel in Cabo de Gata. We headed to the first hide on the Salinas which produced Flamingos, Yellow-legged Gull, Redshank and Golden Plover. Due to recent heavy rain the land opposite the hide was flooded and as we made our way across to take a look we had a fantastic view of a Spoonbill flying overhead. On reaching the flooded land we flushed a Green Sandpiper. We could hear Hoopoe calling and had good views of Southern Grey Shrike.
We then drove a short way to park at the old Guardia tower by the beach. Spotless Starlings were present on the tower itself. Walking to the next hide we found Hoopoe, Golden and Grey Plover. A skulking Stone Curlew was visible from the hide and Slender-billed Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Spoonbill and Little Egret were on the water. Chiffchaff and Stonechat were ever present and Serin flitted about in the bushes.
After a refreshing coffee we went to the concrete ‘Observatorio’ hide. Waders were present in good numbers including Avocet, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilt and Black-tailed Godwit. A Dartford Warbler played hide and seek with us along with Sardinian Warbler. Several Sandwich Terns rested on the rocks out in the lagoon with a single, very smart Mediterranean Gull.
Moving to the back of the Salinas brought us Corn Bunting, Thekla Lark and our first eagle, a Short-toed hunting over the mountains! We then made the short drive to the lighthouse in search of our special target for the morning,Trumpeter Finch and were rewarded with excellent close up views of several birds.
After a wonderful lunch in a beachside bar we went to Rambla Morales. The recent rains had flushed the nutrient rich water from the rambla to be replaced with fresh water and so birds were few but we still found Golden Plover and Stonechat and heard Cettis Warbler and Penduline Tit in the reeds. Crag Martins flew low overhead.
Our final target for the day was Dotterel. As we were driving to the location however the elements got the better of us. Our van got stuck fast in soft sand! There’s no lengths we won’t go to to try and find the best birds! A call to the tow truck was needed and we were winched out in the evening light. Ian and Aileen enjoyed the adventure – an eventful end to an enjoyable day!
Our second day saw us driving to the plains of Sierra de Baza in Granada Province but on the way we called at beautiful wooded valley to search for Hawfinch. Whilst searching we found Rock and Cirl Buntings and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Then came the Hawfinches. Three birds in the top of a tall tree in typical fashion but then two actually flew towards us and settled low in a hawthorn bush giving us stunning views. A very happy group then moved on to the plains. Black-bellied Sandgrouse was our first find and as the day went on we had a total of around forty(!), including decent views of birds on the ground. Large flocks of Calandra Larks were present and we saw Rock Sparrows and Serin drinking from a small pool. A pair of Little Owls were wonderfully camouflaged amongst the rocky terrain. We also had excellent views of two Chough foraging for food.
In the afternoon we headed up to the Sierra de Alhamilla. Our first birds were a pair of Blue Rock Thrush quickly followed by Black Wheatear; Sardinian Warbler and Serin were present in the bushes along with a Blackcap. Tired and happy we headed for a village bar for a cold drink and as we did so a juvenile Golden Eagle soared overhead to round off a wonderful trip!