Granada and Cabo de Gata – Part Two – By Malcolm Palmer

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We were stationed at the Cabo de Gata’s Hotel Blanca Brisa for the third day of the Costa Blanca Bird Club’s first autumn trip, and the hides around the salinas were proving fruitful. A Great White Egret was perched helpfully next to a Grey Heron, and Derek found three Glossy Ibis, whilst Herr Swarowski played no mean part in helping me identify a Temminck’s Stint. We rode out to the lighthouse, where small groups of Balearic Shearwaters zoomed through close to the surface, whilst the occasional Gannet and Audouin’s Gull enlivened proceedings. A burst of inevitable song ‘showed us the way to San José’ – where groups of Booted Eaglescoasted, then we took the ‘Miners’ Route’ over the hills, jarring a few sets of back teeth. En route Barry managed to find a Golden Eagle and a couple of Raven, but it was a relief to be back on smooth roads. After a bit of entertainment changing Rob’s wheel, some of us took our ease while Barry, Rob and Kath were busy finding a pair of Knot (unusual visitors here), some of our members imbibed rather freely of the golden liquid and were obliged to retire, whilst those already rested made for one of the hides. Waders abounded, and I managed to find one of my great favourites, a delicate, rapid-feeding Marsh Sandpiper, amongst the throng. As we dined well in the hotel, the day was voted a success.

Next day it was homeward-bound. But first we paused close to the tawdry ‘Mini-Hollywood,’ first seeing a pair of Blue Rock Thrush. A long walk ensued, down the barranco, in a fruitless search for Trumpeter Finch, but Rob managed to find a Rock Bunting, whilst Yours Truly, staying put, saw a nice Rock Sparrow. We lunched (some of us) near Puerto Lumbreras, then had a look at the Alcanara, where some members found a Calandra Lark. All in all, for an autumn trip, a total of 102 species seen wasn’t bad, highlights being some good waders and raptors.