Field Trip – Cabo de Gata, Sierra de los Filabres – Malcolm Palmer

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CBBC Four Day Trip – Part Two – Still on the first afternoon of our visit to eastern Andalucía, we made for the hide beside the Salinas of Cabo de Gata. No sooner had we parked the cars, than what should appear, perched on the fence right before us, but a gorgeous male Trumpeter Finch! After Margaret got off a few photos, we entered the hide, and had distant views of several species of wader and some nice Lesser Black-backed, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls. Someone called out that the Trumpeter was back, Greta rushed out, and came back, having obtained a photo of – a Rock Sparrow! After a comfortable night at the excellent Hotel Blanca Brisa, we had another look at the Salinas, adding a group of Bar-tailed Godwits and some active Sandwich Terns to our list, before spending a rather fruitless couple of hours around the scrub-covered plains nearby.

We headed northwest into the lonely Sierra de los Filabres, wondering how on earth cyclists ever coped with the stage they sometimes use to the Calar Alto observatory. In our ‘tin cocoons,’ however, the 2,100 metres presented no problem, and only the chill air and shortness of breath told of the altitude. One or two Mistle Thrush were soon seen, but I soon had my eyes on a smaller bird, and we set off in pursuit. Sure enough, it turned out to be a fine example of an Alpine Accentor, a mountain species which seeks out these high spots as it’s wintering ground. This was a ‘new bird’ for many of our group, so it was a contented party that made for our second overnight stay, at the Hotel Dama de Baza. To be continued…………….