We met up with Paul and Christine from Nottingham at Almería Central Station, they were staying in apartments close by, and whisked them off to the Cabo de Gata reserve – a journey of about half an hour. It was a beautiful morning – the spring flowers were in full bloom, creating carpets of yellow, purple and red in the usually dry fields. At the first hide on the salinas we were treated to close views of dozens of Greater Flamingo, four Spoonbills and several Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. A fine Yellow Wagtail was also present. In the scrub across the road we found Southern Grey Shrike, Common Redstart, Fan-tailed Warbler and dozens of little froglets. It was a job to avoid treading on them!
Moving on to the next hide we came across a Northern Wheatear, flocks of Spotless Starlings and Crested Lark. Red-tailed lizards scuttled across the path and Paul tried his id skills on a couple of butterflies. From the hide itself we had good views of a pair of Great White Egret, more Flamingos and Spoonbills and a small group of Slender-billed Gulls. A superb male Whinchat was a delight to find.
After a coffee break we went to the final hide and noted 3 tern species; Common, Sandwich and Gull-billed. Audouin’s Gulls were loafing on rocks in good numbers. Waders included more Avocets and Stilts plus Dunlin, Kentish and Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Redshank. A Raven was feeding at the roadside. A short drive then took us to the lighthouse at the point in search of Black Wheatear and two superb males made it worthwhile.
By this time stomachs were rumbling so a tapas lunch in a beachside cafe was called for and didn’t disappoint. Suitably refreshed, we drove west to the nearby Rambla de Morales. More Avocets were present here alongside common species such as Grey Heron and Common Coot, but lurking at the waters edge we found a real star bird – a fine Wood Sandpiper. That got Paul’s camera clicking! A flock of five Gull-billed Terns flew overhead as we made our way up the rambla and in the bushes were Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe and Bee-eater. We also found lots of Wild Boar prints in the muddy puddles. By this stage Christine’s feet were complaining so we decided to drive to a raptor watchpoint for our last venue. We did get a raptor, a large eagle, but sadly only for a few seconds and were unable to get a definitive id.
We then drove Paul and Christine back to the city and said our farewells at the end of a full and enjoyable day.