Trip Report – Almeria Province with Heather, November 16

A two day trip with Heather, a new client from Lincolnshire who was holidaying in Roquetas de Mar. On day one we met by arrangement at the first lagoon at the nearby Punta Entinas de Sabinar where White-headed Duck and Black-necked Grebe were the highlights alongside more common birds like Pochard and Shoveller. A Kingfisher did a couple of fly-bys and Cetti’s Warbler flitted about the reeds. We spent a  couple of minutes trying to identify a strange call until we realised it was coming from a caged bird on the balcony of a flat opposite! As we entered the natural park a large flock of gulls was visible in flight and much to our delight a single Common Crane flew amongst them. It was then a question of scanning the pools and scrapes. Black-winged Stilt, Turnstone, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Greenshank and Avocet were all present and of course lots of Flamingos. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reeds. Numerous Chiffchaff were hunting insects along with Stonechat, Southern Grey Shrike and Fan-tailed Warblers.  Spoonbill, Cattle Egret and Little Egret were perched along the shore and a single Great Egret gave lovely views. We got a nice surprise in the shape of  a Spotted Redshank feeding with a group of Dunlin.  A Little Owl watched us from a ruined saltworks building. Audouin’s Gull snoozed amongst the rocks.  A little further on we found a lovely Bluethroat and two Western Swamphen (Purple Gallinule). We drove towards the beach for lunch and parked by a puddle,a rare thing in this neck of the woods. Sure enough it was attracting birds including Water Pipit and a second Bluethroat which we enjoyed whilst munching our packed lunch.

We then moved on to Las Norias for the afternoon. We were greeted by big numbers of Night Herons, numerous Chiffchaff and Hoopoe. Little and Cattle Egret flew over.  Another puddle produced Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and Snipe. A third Bluethroat was feeding in a roadside ditch! Flying over all of this were Marsh Harrier and Booted Eagle. A patch of grassland had Grey and Yellow wagtails. A final Hoopoe was a nice end to the day.

Day two was spent to the east. We started at Las Amoladeras steppes, where Hoopoe, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Wheatear, Calandra Lark and Dartford Warbler got things moving. We then headed to Cabo de Gata for Heather’s target bird and a lifer for her – Stone Curlew and found a nice group of four in the scrubland. Southern Grey Shrike kept an eye on proceedings.  On the saltpans were Little Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Sanderling, Greenshank, and Grey Plover with of course numerous Flamingos. Slender-billed Gulls were picking insects off the surface of the water. We had a picnic  lunch by the beach then went to Rambla Morales. Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling and Ringed Plover were feeding on the shore. This was the place where Buff-breasted Sandpiper was present a few days earlier but sadly it had moved on. Cetti’s Warblers called from the reeds but we had no sign of Penduline Tit. Next time. Our day was rounded off nicely by Shoveller, Wigeon,White-headed Duck, Curlew and a beautiful fly past of Flamingos.

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