Monday, 15 April 2013

Cabo de Palos - things are finally hotting up!

Over the last few days I've been covering the gardens at the lighthouse at Cabo de Palos pretty much on a daily basis, but with a trip or two out of this area.  Although the weather is now a lot warmer, there have been days with very little in the way of migration, but one relatively GOOD day.

On Wednesday morning (10th April), before work I fancied a trip out to the salinas at San Pedro.  Not for anything special, but just for a change and to see if the Knot was still there (so I could photograph it in good light).  Arriving at El Mojón at just before 9, I could see straight away that there had been a clear-out of waders - apart from the ever noisy Black Winged Stilts and Common Redshanks, numbers of birds were well down compared to my previous visit.  However, scanning through the reeds on the opposite side of the lagoon (where the dowitcher had spent so much of its time), a small duck with a claret head and white crescent on its face - at last, a male Garganey!

I watched it for a while paddling around the corner of the lagoon and even managed a couple of 'digiscoped' photos, but eventually had to leave.  Calling in rapidly at the other side of the salinas, in the pool at the end of the road before entering the port I had 4 adult breeding plumage Mediterranean Gulls in amongst a group of about 40 Black-headed Gulls which seemed to be paired up.  In the tall grasses in the sand dunes here were a very nice male Black-eared Wheatear and male Stonechat, and on my way back along the salinas road there were a group of about 30 Slender-billed Gulls and a few Sandwich Terns, but nothing in the way of migrant waders (just the resident Avocets, Black Winged Stilts and Kentish Plovers), and the only passerines were a few Sand Martins.
 Being there so early, a few Little Egrets were still in their roost

 But this is not a Little Egret in the tree!
 Any high spot will do for this Common Redshank on guard duty, even a broken palm tree!
 In the far corner, amongst Shelducks and Black Winged Stilts, a male Garganey
On Friday (12th April), I went again to the lighthouse garden, where I met up with Mick Brewer.  With no wind and no cloud it didn't appear to be the best of days for migration, but when I got there, Mick was already 'scoping a Wryneck on one of the 'Pita' plants.  We did my normal circuit and ended up with a quite reasonable tally of migrants, including Nightingale (heard only), a couple of male Common Whitethroats, 6 Common Redstarts and a single late female Black Redstart, Short-toed Larks, Red-rumped Swallows, male Subalpine Warbler, Northern Wheatears, a male Woodchat Shrike and a single flyover 'flava' Wagtail, and I thought I had that black and white gem of a Pied Flycatcher, but we couldn't re-locate it.

 One of several Common Redstarts seen

 Not in great numbers, but the Woodchats are still filtering through
Something of a surprise, this Wryneck

I was impressed enough that in the afternoon after a quick call in at Cala Reona I went back there.  Cala Reona was quiet to start with with the only birds of note being a single Woodchat Shrike, but as I went back to my car, I heard a call I recognised and by waiting quietly a few minutes, the bird showed itself - a male Pied Flycatcher.

 As normal, keeping in the shadows, this male Pied Flycatcher

Back at the lighthouse, the birds I saw in the morning seemed to have stuck, and had been joined by some more migrants.  Doing the same route as in the morning, I had 6 Common Redstarts, 2 Woodchats (male and female), 4 Northern Wheatears, Subalpine Warbler (a female this time), 4 Common Whitethroats, the Wryneck, 2 Robins, 2 Willow Warblers, a male Pied Flycatcher, a really obliging Bonelli's Warbler and my first Garden Warbler of the year skulking around in the undergrowth (the bird, not me!).

 Most unusual, this Bonelli's Warbler stopped still long enough for a couple of photos
 Grubbing about in the undergrowth were both Common Whitethroats and Garden Warbler,
but I only got a photo of the Whitethroat

 Presumably the same Wryneck as seen this morning, as skulky as ever...

 ... but it did come out into the sunshine to have its photo taken!

 My second male Pied Flycatcher of the day (and of the year!)

Quite an impressive afternoon!

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