25 March - 1 April 2000

Michael Lockwood
Teresa Farino

Saturday 25 March Below Balneario de Sierra Alhamilla

After a late lunch we ventured out for quick stroll down into the 'oasis' below our hotel, the Balneario de Sierra Alhamilla.

Mike H quickly demonstrated his extraordinary powers of raptor observation by spotting two Bonelli's Eagles high above the hotel, although near enough to make out their well-marked white undersides. Further down the track we saw and heard Serins, Blackcaps and Sardinian Warblers, while a Red-rumped Swallow flew across. Scanning the crags we picked up a number of Blue Rock Thrushes and a Red-legged Partridge was observed 'singing' from a crag on the other side of a gully. We also came across commoner 'northern' species such as Robin, Blackbird and Great Tit, the latter at the very southern edge of its range.

Towards the bottom of the track, Mike H pointed out a large nest in a cave halfway up a crag, which hosted a convincingly Eagle Owl-like silhouette. This turned out to be an owl-shaped rock, although we did speculate that the nest could have been used by an Eagle Owl at some time (several pairs are known to breed in the Sierra Alhamilla protected area). On the way back up to our hotel we heard some marsh frogs and very high up Mike L first heard, and then saw, a group of migrating Bee-eaters.

Flower-wise, Caroline and Teresa found Dipcadi serotinum , a type of 'brown bluebell'. the birthwort Aristolochia baetica , unique to southern Spain and North Africa, with curved, purplish 'pipes', as well as the leaves of another Afro-Iberian endemic - Lapiedra martinezii - a member of the daffodil family which unfortunately we were never to find in flower.

The dominant shrubs here were the yellow legume Anthyllis cytisoides , Maytenus senegalensis , with small toothed leaves (belonging to the spindle family, this species is characteristic of original climax scrub of this area, but very rare today), and Rhamnus lycioides , a buckthorn with narrow strap-shaped leaves and tiny green flowers with four petals, as well as Withania frutescens , a member of the potato family with greenish bell-shaped flowers and red berries. The botanists also noted alfa (Stipa tenacissima ), the dominant 'steppe' grass of the area, often erroneously called 'esparto', and were somewhat surprised to find maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris ) - normally a species of very humid areas - growing along one of the ancient water channels.

Once back up at the 'village' we had a quick look at the rocks behind the Balneario which yielded a rather distant Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush: a taste of things to come. Caroline continued up one of the gullies behind the hotel and had good views of a Black Wheatear and found the Spanish rusty foxglove (Digitalis obscura ).

Sunday 26 March Cuevas de los Medinas/Cuevas de los Úbedas/Rambla Morales/Coastal steppe

Our first stop was just after prison, to the south of the village of Cuevas de los Medinas where we began looking for the Trumpeter Finch. Mike H. once again surprised us:

"Just what are we looking for?", he asks.

"The Trumpeter Finch", comes the reply.

"What does it look like?"

"Small, pale finch with a large orange bill - here's a picture."

"Well, I've just seen one over there!"

We spent a long time looking for Mike H's bird but could only come up with a couple of Goldfinches, a Black Wheatear, a Black-eared Wheatear on the other side of the road and thousands of gulls from the nearby tip. Some secretly wondered what this demon American birder puts in his morning decaffeinated coffee to be so sharp so early in the day.

The 'weeds' of this area of abandoned cereal fields included the plum-coloured 'knapweed' Serratula pinnatifida , round-headed prickly poppy (Papaver hybridum), red horned-poppy (Glaucium corniculatum ) and Fagonia cretica with its lacy foliage and purple flowers. Most spectacular of all were the lemon-coloured flowers and grey felty leaves of Andryala ragusina - worthy of any garden - which we were to see on many other occasions.

We moved on to Cuevas de los Úbedas and pottered around in a gully behind the village. Mike H spotted yet another Bonelli's Eagle, this one a lot closer, while up the gully we found Jackdaws, a pair of Kestrels and more Sardinian Warblers. We flushed a small owl from behind a small fig and couldn't decide if it was Scops or Little (Andy held out for Red-necked Nightjar for a time). Following the dry river bed below the village we stopped to look at Red-rumped Swallows, a pair of Woodchat Shrikes and yet more Sardinian Warblers, although there was no sign of the promised Spectacled Warblers.

The common shrubs in the gully included Retama sphaerocarpa and Genista cytisoides ssp. retamoides - two 'brooms' with lots of small yellow flowers on long drooping stems -, the salt-tolerant shrubby orache (Atriplex halimus ) and its parasite Cistanche phelypaea: a spectacular large yellowish 'broomrape'. Some of us also spent a few minutes examining a male large psammodromus basking on a log, the species being identified by its enormously long tail and twin cream stripes running down each side of the body and the sex by the reddish tinge behind the back legs.

Walking back to the vans, some were treated to good views of a couple of mating spiny-footed lizards: the male with very handsome spotting on his hind legs was noticed first and was subsequently seen to 'seduce' a passing female, initially by biting her back, and then by wrestling her into a suitable position for a very quick act of sexual congress (if you blinked, you missed it!)

A large male ocellated lizard - here greyish in colour rather than the usual fluorescent green, for better camouflage - ran across the road on our way back to lunch at the Trumpeter Finch spot and - surprise, surprise - just as we had laid out lunch and some were tucking into their salads, Mike L located a female Trumpeter Finch, which was soon joined by a male and juvenile feeding on the ground about 30 metres from our picnic spot. We realised that we were seeing a family group as the young bird was begging food from the male. At the same spot we also saw a smart Black-eared Wheatear at close quarters and four Red-rumped Swallows perched on a fence around a well half-way up the hillside.

Our next port of call was Rambla Morales: a small but delightful wetland on the coast which is ideally placed to receive migrants on their way north in the spring. On the way in we stopped for a Southern Grey Shrike on a wire and then further on to listen briefly to a Short-toed Lark's song. We also saw a couple of Bath white butterflies mating and heard a Hoopoe. Once at the lagoon, it became obvious that we would have to drive along the side of the water without getting out of the minibuses in order not to disturb the fauna. We could immediately compare Redshank with Spotted Redshank, along with Black-winged Stilt and Avocet. Other waders on the far side of the lagoon included several Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Ruff, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit and a solitary Ringed Plover, but the only ducks present were two male Garganey.

The choppy expanse of open water was dotted with Black-headed Gulls, along with three stunning adult Mediterranean Gulls in full breeding plumage (later joined by two second-year birds). One and then two Collared Pratincoles hawked over the water before settling on the sandbar which closes this lagoon off from the sea. In the distance a few raptors were soaring in the thermals, with one Short-toed Eagle coming quite close to give us reasonable views, while a very large female Peregrine flew along the dunes in the background.

The dune vegetation around the lagoon was dominated by large yellow restharrow (Ononis natrix ssp. hispanica), cottonweed (Otanthus maritimus) , with white, felty leaves arranged in whorls, the equally 'furry' sea medick (Medicago marina) and fragrant yellow-flowered shrub Thymelaea hirsuta , the sea lavender Limonium sinuatum, with papery purple bracts resembling flowers, southern birdsfoot-trefoil, (Lotus creticus), the sea heath Frankenia corymbosa , distinguished by its paired, oblong flower heads, the composite Atractylis cancellata (which Teresa calls 'flower in a bird-cage'!) and Crucianella maritima , a leathery-leaved, yellow-flowered bedstraw.

Behind us on the sand we could hear Lesser Short-toed Larks trilling and a number of Audouin's Gulls flew in to the lagoon. On the way out we stopped to look at the hirundines at the tail end of the lagoon, which included Red-rumped Swallows and Crag and House Martins, along with a couple of Pallid Swifts. Just as we joined the main road again we saw a Corn Bunting perched on a bush next to the road.

Our last stop took us a bit further into the dunes in a successful search for the bizarre Cynomorium coccineum, a deep purple, rather phallic plant which provoked not a little ribaldry: again it is parasitic on members of the goosefoot family. Other species of note here were the steppe grass known as albardine (Lygeum spartum) and the shrubby Zizyphus lotus (buckthorn family) whose zigzag branches are again characteristic of the area's original climax vegetation.

Monday 27 March Punta Entinas-Sabinar

We spent the morning driving alongside a series of abandoned salinas (saltpans) to the west of the resort of Roquetas. The first stop produced Mute Swans (rare in Spain), Black-winged Stilts and a rather distant Squacco Heron, well spotted by Guy. At the second stop we spent a bit of time on three marsh terns, still moulting-out of winter plumage, which turned out to be two White-winged Terns and one Black Tern. Waders included Kentish Plover, Avocet, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Little Stint, three Black-tailed Godwits and four Turnstone, along with numerous gulls, a very dirty Cattle Egret, Little Egrets, Blue-headed Wagtails, Fan-tailed Warblers and a female Marsh Harrier over the reeds.

Here too Andy got very excited by his first ever White-headed Duck, which turned out to be a Little Stint on a stone, although we could all see how the conjunction of animate and inanimate gave this first impression. Further on, as the lagoons became saltier, the avifauna was simplified and we were to see only Greater Flamingos, Avocets and Audouin's Gulls.

Just before lunch, Andrew and Sue spotted a well-hidden Purple Heron on a lagoon, while two Southern Grey Shrikes showed well from a solitary sisal inflorescence. The beach flora during the morning and around our lunch spot included yellow horned-poppy (Glaucium flavum) , Asteriscus maritimus, Phoenician juniper (Juniperus phoenicea) , Helichrysum stoechas (a curry-scented everlasting flower) and a form of French figwort (Scrophularia canina) with entire leaves.

On the way back to the road, we spotted a large flock of Pallid Swifts, easily identifiable in the good light by their Sand Martin-like colour. Heading west once more, we stopped at the end of a series of greenhouses (which have sprung up right to the edge of the protected area) and walked across a stony plain overlooking more lagoons. Here we flushed three Stone Curlews before returning to the main track to avoid disturbing them further, while on the marshy edges of the lagoons there were many egrets, gulls and a male Marsh Harrier.

The scrub here was dominated by lentisc (Pistacia lentiscus) , Maytenus senegalensis and Zizyphus lotus . This last bush is the larval food-plant of the common tiger blue and we spotted one of these diminutive butterflies sitting on its 'host' at the base of an interesting gully in the raised beach - known locally as the Alcores - behind the lagoons. In and amongst the scrub in this gully we spotted a male Redstart and a female Ring Ouzel, while at the head of the gully and up on the raised beach, we had fair flight views of our only Calandra Lark of the trip and saw and heard a Lesser Short-toed Lark singing above our heads.

The vegetation of the limestone cliff included a Sideritis with white flowers (possibly S. arborescens ), Genista umbellata , the brown bluebell again, Barbary nut iris (Gymnandriris sisyrhinchium) , a solitary mirror orchid (Ophrys speculum), wild gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus) and the evil-smelling rue Ruta chalepensis.

From the raised beach looking down we had reasonable views in the scopes of a pair of Black Redstarts, a Golden Plover and two Northern Wheatears, as well as a further Black-eared Wheatear on the top and a male Ring Ouzel in another gully. On the way home the first minibus stopped for a splendid male Redstart (spotted by Sue) and a huge male ocellated lizard basking atop a pile of rubble next to the greenhouses.

Tuesday 28 March Tabernas Desert/Cabo de Gata

We headed down into the dry, water-carved gorge known as the Barranco de Tabernas, where our first find of the day was a stripe-necked terrapin which Teresa grabbed as it was disappearing into the reeds alongside the trickle of water which passes for a stream in these parts: Brian claimed that it smelt like rotting cabbage! Further along the stream we found a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and a White Wagtail, followed by a Meadow Pipit, as well as having our first good views of Bee-eaters. We put up two Black-bellied Sandgrouse which give good views overhead, while on the cliffs we appreciated 'real' Rock Doves along with a solitary, calling Rock Sparrow.

Here too Andy picked up a Willow Warbler, while Mike H spotted his obligatory good raptor of the day - this time an Osprey. Once we had parted company with large groups of Spanish school kids and British geology students, we got excellent views of a pair (as is common) of Bonelli's Eagles and a Bonelli's Warbler calling and showing well in a tamarisk, as well as more - and much lower - Bee-eaters. On the way back a very obliging female Subalpine Warbler appeared in a tamarisk. Butterflies included Bath and small white, and several vagrant emperor dragonflies buzzed past.

The flora of the area is very specialised and the botanists found two of the endemic plants to the region - the sea lavender Limonium insigne and the bushy crucifer Euzomodendron bourgaeanum - as well as the rare, white-flowered Coris hispanica .

After lunch near Sorbas with trilling Corn Buntings in attendance, we escaped the rain by driving down to the Cabo de Gata Natural Park and walking along the volcanic sea cliffs as far as the lighthouse at Vela Blanca. A number of Black Wheatears, Rock Bunting and Sardinian Warbler among the scrub were the passerine highlights, while out to sea two male Marsh Harriers, a female Peregrine, a number of Alpine Swifts and three Gannets, kept us entertained, but sadly no shearwaters appeared on this occasion.

The area has a fascinating flora and Teresa and Caroline in a quick search noted a number of the area's special plants: Periploca laevigata (another climax scrub species, this time in the milkweed family), dwarf fan-palm (Chamaerops humilis), which is Europe's only native palm, the attractive sea mallow (Lavatera maritima) in full bloom, Phlomis purpurea ssp. almeriense (endemic to Cabo de Gata), some splendid cushions of the pink-flowered snapdragon Antirrhinum charidemi (also endemic to the area), Teucrium charidemi (another endemic but not in flower) and cut-leaved lavender (Lavandula multifida) .

Wednesday 29 March Amoladeras steppe/Cabo de Gata salinas

We made a pre-breakfast, pre-dawn start to look for Dupont's Lark in the Amoladeras steppe reserve, but although we caught a quick glimpse of a couple of Stone Curlews as we arrived, we were otherwise frustrated and only saw Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Thekla Lark, Black-eared Wheatear and yet another Ring Ouzel.

After breakfast in a nearby bar, we stopped off at the Amoladeras visitor centre before undertaking a longish walk into the coastal steppe/dunes to the south. Here we spotted Little Owl, Black-eared Wheatear, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes and a Willow Warbler and had a quick glimpse of a Spectacled Warbler as we entered the protected area. A few butterflies were on the wing - green-striped white and small copper - and, once the sun's rays started to take effect, a number of spiny-footed lizards scurried across our path, while a sizeable ocellated lizard hid itself under a rock.

The botanists found another species of sea lavender - Limonium thouinii - with ice-blue bracts and yellow flowers, as well as the seed pods of the winter-flowering lily Androcymbium europaeum , yet another Cabo de Gata endemic. The fossil dunes were clothed with sheets of Reichardia tingitana , a purple-centred 'dandelion', the pink trumpets of mallow-leaved bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides) , and lots more Andryala ragusina, together making a splendid floral display.

On the way back to the vans Andy spotted a flock of about 30 Black-bellied Sandgrouse far away towards the sea, although they steadfastly refused to come any nearer, while once back at the vans Mike H (who else?) spotted a Short-toed Eagle which flew towards us and gave us fair views of its pale underparts.

Lunch was taken on the beach opposite the Cabo de Gata salinas. From the hide we had good views of Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Kentish Plover, with a Spectacled Warbler proving elusive in front of the hide.

In two separate groups we returned to Rambla Morales to see if anything new had turned up, and were rewarded with a Whiskered Tern and a lovely flock of 27 'very sexy' Collared Pratincoles. The second group saw the pratincoles regurgitating food for their partners.

Thursday 30 March Cañada de las Norias/Sierra Nevada

We stopped at three different observation points at the Las Norias 'gravel pits' (in fact pits created only about 15 years ago by the extraction of soil for the local greenhouses). The bread-buying group arrived before the Bank group and Mike L and John had a brief glimpse of a Purple Gallinule stampeding away into the reeds as we arrived: unfortunately only Andy got a view later on. Other birds at the first stop included Pochard, White-headed Duck, Marsh Harrier, many Black-necked Grebes in full summer plumage and a Great Reed Warbler singing in the background.

With the group reunited, we moved onto to a viewpoint overlooking a small wader beach with Little Ringed Plover, Green and Wood Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts. Also present were a Reed Warbler singing from the tamarisks, five Whiskered Terns and Pallid Swifts. At the third stop we got wonderful close-up views of good numbers of White-headed Ducks, with 5 Red-crested Pochard in the background, but saw neither hide nor hair of the Marbled Teal which breed here, much to Bob's disappointment. We pressed on to the Sierra Nevada after getting lost in a diversion in El Ejido, and found a sunny picnic stop next to an olive grove with Red-rumped Swallows and Crag Martins overhead and a Blue Rock Thrush singing from a ruined building on the other side of the road Š. all with chilled white wine to boot!

Our next stop was much higher up (about 1500m) in the evergreen oak forest for some rather uncommon birds for this part of Spain - Chaffinch, Jay, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit - and yet another Ring Ouzel. Interesting plants here included Adenocarpus decorticans , an attractive yellow leguminous shrub which is endemic to the Sierra Nevada, stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), large Mediterranean spurge (Euphorbia characias) , the spiny, purple-flowered hedgehog broom (Erinacea anthyllis) , known as mother-in-law's cushion to the Spaniards (!) and another birthwort - Aristolochia longa - this time with long, yellowish flowers, found by Caroline.

Up at the pass - Puerto de la Ragua, 2000 m - it was still very early spring with only a few bulbs in flower, namely Crocus nevadensis and the yellow star-of-Bethlehem Gagea nevadensis . We walked along a firebreak in search of ibex, with the flanking Scots pinewoods housing a number of Coal Tits and Rock Buntings, with a few Crossbills overhead. At the viewpoint we searched fruitlessly for the Ibex, although were somewhat compensated by our best views of Black Redstart to date. Once back down at the vehicles, one group headed off up hill for more of the same, the other to the bar to warm up. The former were rewarded by a very obliging Rock Bunting and a singing Wood Lark, the latter by hot chocolate. However, the best surprise was to come once back in the vans as we stumbled on a group of at least four magnificent male Ibex only 20m away in the road, perhaps pushed downhill by the encroaching fog, and further on a female and youngster.

Friday 31 March Río de Aguas (Sorbas)/Volcano de Presillas Bajas

We returned to the Río de Aguas gorge near Sorbas in the morning having left in a hurry in torrential rain three days previously. We parked opposite the terraced village of Molinos del Río Aguas, which is being restored by the Sunseed Project, an English community based on sustainable living. A number of people took photos of a fine group of Cistanche phelypaea next to a road sign (temporary removal of which was demanded for artistic integrity).

In the walk along the path we had good views over the little river gorge with its permanent watercourse: as we arrived we heard our first Nightingales and Cetti's Warblers. Later we came across Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Serin, a Bonelli's Eagle, a Rock Sparrow on the cliffs behind us and a Red-rumped Swallow.

Plant-wise, the common asphodels (Asphodelus aestivus) were still in flower, as were a number of spikes of rose garlic (Allium roseum) and tassel hyacinth (Muscari comosum). We examined the pods and seeds of the carob tree Ceratonia siliqua (from where we get the jewellers' measure 'carat', as the stone-like carob seeds are remarkably uniform in mass and were once used to weigh gold and diamonds). Other flowers here included Moricandia arvensis , a pink crucifer with grey clasping leaves, Ononis tridentata (a pink shrubby restharrow), more wild gladioli and brown bluebells and the yellow-flowered Helianthemum alypoides and white-flowered H. almeriense , the latter being endemic to Almería.

Past the village in the other direction we descended to a brilliant blue pool in the limestone gorge, our arrival being heralded by a series of 'plops' as a hoard of stripe-necked terrapins took to the water. Here Caroline was brave enough to pick up an adult ladder snake, almost a metre in length, which voided its smelly gut-contents all over her in protest!

After a leisurely lunch on the beach in the Cabo de Gata park, we walked up towards an extinct volcano. The best bird action was up around a ruined farm where in quick succession we had Black and Black-eared Wheatear, Subalpine Warbler and Woodchat Shrike, along with the ever-present Thekla Larks and Sardinian Warblers. The sun brought out Lang's short-tailed and some by now rather tatty black-eyed blues (this latter is one of the earliest butterflies on the wing in Spain). Caroline found the attractive grass-leaved viper's-grass (Scorzonera graminifolia), and we also came across two species of Phlomis: P. purpurea ssp. almeriense which we already knew from the cliffs of the park, and the lovely yellow P. lychnitis .

As a parting shot, a few of us who had decided that packing was a mere 5-minute operation went back for the third time to Rambla Morales and were rewarded, despite the wind, by a group of three Gull-billed Terns on the beach with the Sandwich Terns. Eleven Pratincoles were still in residence, while the number of Black-tailed Godwits had increased to over 25. Mike L saw a very nippy group of Mediterranean Shearwaters passing along the coast, although the wind made seawatching all but impossible.

Our last stop was at dusk at the steppe near the Amoladeras information. centre in a final attempt for Little Bustard, but all we managed was a Short-toed Eagle, a Grey Heron and finally, a Stone Curlew calling in the distance. Nevertheless, the iced champagne before dinner went some way towards ameliorating our disappointment.



1 Little Grebe: 1 Rambla Morales 29th; a number at Las Norias 30th.

2. Black‑necked Grebe: 15+ Las Norias 29th.

3. Mediterranean Shearwater: 3 in heavy seas off Rambla Morales 31st.

4. Gannet : 3 off Cabo de Gata 28th.

5. Cormorant : noted 5 days at Punta Entinas, Rambla Morales and Cabo de Gata salinas.

6. Grey Heron: 5+ Punta Entinas 27th; singles 29th, 30th and 31st elsewhere.

7. Purple Heron: 1 in saltmarsh at Punta Entinas 27th.

8. Squacco Heron: 1 on first lagoon at Punta Entinas 27th.

9. Little Egret: 5+ Punta Entinas 27th; singles Cabo de Gata 29th and Las Norias 30th.

10. Greater Flamingo: 100+ Punta Entinas 27th; 400+ Cabo de Gata 29th.

11. Mute Swan: 8 Punta Entinas 27th.

12. Shelduck : 2 Punta Entinas 27th; 2 Cabo de Gata 29th.

13. Red‑crested Pochard: 5 Las Norias 30th.

14. White-head Duck: 20+ Las Norias 30th.

15. Mallard : noted on five days: max. 20+ Las Norias 30th.

16. Teal : 3 Punta Entinas 27th.

17. Garganey : 2 males Rambla Morales 26th.

18. Shoveler : 20+ Punta Entinas 27th; 15+ Las Norias 30th.

19. Pochard : 10+ Las Norias 30th.

20. Bonelli's Eagle: 2 Sierra Alhamilla 25th ;1 Cuevas de los Úbedas 26th; 2 Tabernas 28th; 1 Sorbas 31st.

21. Golden Eagle: 1 Puerto de la Ragua 30th.

22. Short‑toed Eagle: 1 Rambla Morales 26th; 1 Las Amoladeras 29th; 1 Las Amoladeras 31st.

23. Buzzard : 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

24. Sparrowhawk : 1 Sierra Alhamilla 26th; 1 Sierra Alhamilla 27th; 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

25. Marsh Harrier: 1 Punta Entinas 27th; 2 males in off sea Cabo de Gata 28th; 2 males Sierra Alhamilla 29th; 1 Las Norias 30th.

26. Osprey : 1 Tabernas 28th; 1 Cabo de Gata 29th.

27. Peregrine : 1 Rambla Morales 26th; 1 Cabo de Gata 28th; 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

28. Kestrel : noted on all 6 full days.

29. Red-legged Partridge: noted every day apart from 26th.

30. Moorhen : noted on 5 days.

31. Coot : noted on 5 days.

32. Purple Gallinule: 1 Las Norias 30th.

33. Little Ringed Plover : 2 Tabernas 28th; 1 or 2 birds 29th, 30th and 31st.

34. Ringed Plover: 1 Rambla Morales 26th.

35. Kentish Plover: 20+ Rambla Morales 26th; 40+ Punta Entinas 27th; 30+ Cabo de Gata salinas 29th; 2 Las Norias 30th.

36. Golden Plover: 1 Punta Entinas raised beach.

37. Grey Plover: 10+ Punta Entinas 27th; 15+ Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

38. Turnstone : 5 Punta Entinas 27th.

39. Dunlin : 1 Rambla Morales 26th; 10+ Punta Entinas 27th; 10+ Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

40. Sanderling : 20 Punta Entinas 27th; 10+ Rambla Morales 29th; 10+ Rambla Morales 31st.

41. Little Stint: 5 Rambla Morales 26th; 15+ Punta Entinas 27th; 10+ Cabo de Gata salinas 29th

42. Snipe : 1 Las Norias 30th.

43. Green Sandpiper: 2 Punta Entinas 27th; 2 Las Norias 30th.

44. Wood Sandpiper: 2 Punta Entinas 27th; 2 Rambla Morales 29th; 2 Las Norias 30th; 2 Rambla Morales 31st.

45. Greenshank : 2 Punta Entinas 27th; Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

46. Redshank : good numbers 26th, 27th, 29th and 30th.

47. Spotted Redshank: 2 Rambla Morales 26th; 3 Punta Entinas 27th; 2 Rambla Morales 29th.

48. Ruff : 4 or 5 Rambla Morales 26th; small numbers 27th, 29th, 30th.

49. Curlew : 1 Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

50. Black‑tailed Godwit: 10+ Rambla Morales 26th; 17 Punta Entinas 27th; 10 Rambla Morales 29th; 27 Rambla Morales 31st.

51. Bar‑tailed Godwit: 1 Rambla Morales 26th.

52. Black‑winged Stilt: 20+ at each wetland site

53. Avocet : 20+ at each wetland site; 2 Las Norias 30th.

54. Stone Curlew: 3 Punta Entinas raised beach 27th; 2 Las Amoladeras 29th; 1 bird calling Las Amoladeras 31st.

55. Collared Pratincole: 2 Rambla Morales 26th; 2 Punta Entinas 27th; 27 Rambla Morales 29th; 11 Rambla Morales 31st.

56. Black‑headed Gull: common at all wetlands.

57. Yellow‑legged Gull: common at all wetlands.

58. Audouin's Gull: 3 Rambla Morales 26th; 20+ Punta Entinas 27th; 15+ Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

59. Lesser Black‑backed Gull : small numbers at all coastal wetlands.

60. Mediterranean Gull: 3 adults + 2 immature Rambla Morales 26th.

61. Gull‑billed Tern: 3 Rambla Morales 31st.

62. Common Tern: 1 Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

63. Sandwich Tern: common at all coastal wetlands

64. Black Tern: 1 moulting Punta Entinas 27th.

65. Whis­kered Tern: 1 Rambla Morales 29th; 5 Las Norias 30th; 1 Rambla Morales 31st.

66. White-winged Black Tern: 2 moulting Punta Entinas 27th.

67. Black-bellied Sandgrouse: 2 Tabernas 28th; 30+ Las Amoladeras 29th.

68. Wood Pigeon: 2 Sierra Nevada 30th.

69. Turtle Dove: 1 Tabernas 28th.

70. Rock/Feral Dove: 'real' rock doves Tabernas 28th; many feral birds on other days.

71. Collared Dove: many around human habitation every day.

72. Eagle Owl: possible nest Sierra Alhamilla 25th.

73. Little Owl: 1 Cuevas de los Medinas 26th; 1 Punta Entinas 27th; 1 Las Amoladeras 29th.

74. Scops Owl: calling every night outside hotel.

75. Alpine Swift: 15+ Cabo de Gata 28th.

76. Pallid Swift: large flocks on most days.

77. Bee‑eater : migrating flocks on 25th and 27th; observations on almost all other days.

78. Hoopoe : individual birds every day.

79. Green Woodpecker: birds heard 26th and 27th.

80. Wood Lark: 1 singing Puerto de la Ragua 30th.

81. Thekla Lark: many birds every day.

82. Crested Lark: Punta Entinas 27th.

83. Calandra Lark: 1 singing Punta Entinas raised beach 27th..

84. Lesser Short-toed Lark : a number singing Rambla Morales 26th; Punta Entinas 27th; Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

85. Short-toed Lark: a number singing Rambla Morales 26th; Punta Entinas 27th; Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

86. Red-rumped Swallow: pairs seen almost everywhere.

87. Barn Swallow: many birds every day.

88. House Martin: many birds every day.

89. Crag Martin: common anywhere in suitable habitat.

90. Sand Martin: Rambla Morales 26th; Punta Entinas 27th; Cabo de Gata salinas 29th; Las Norias 30th.

91. Meadow Pipit: 1 Tabernas 28th; 1 Las Amoladeras 29th.

92. White Wagtail: common.

93. Yellow (Blue-headed) Wagtail : common at all wetland sites.

94. Wren : 1 heard and seen Sierra Nevada 30th; 1 heard Sorbas 31st.

95. Southern Grey Shrike : 1 Cuevas de los Medinas; 1 Rambla Morales 26th; 1 Las Amoladeras 29th.

96. Woodchat Shrike: single birds most days.

97. Fan-tailed Warbler: 1 Rambla Morales 26th; 3+ Punta Entinas 27th; 1 Las Norias 30th.

98. Cetti's Warbler: 2+ heard Sorbas 31st.

99. Reed Warbler: 1 singing Las Norias 30th.

100. Great Reed Warbler : more than 1 singing Las Norias 30th.

101. Sedge Warbler : 1 Las Norias 30th.

102. Blackcap : 1+ Sierra Alhamilla 25th; Cuevas de los Úbedas 26th; Sierra Nevada 30th; Sorbas 31st.

103. Sardin­ian Warbler: common every day

104. Subalpine Warbler : 1 Tabernas 28th; 1 Sorbas 31st.

105. Spectacled Warbler : 1 Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

106. Willow Warbler : singles Cuevas de los Medinas 26th; Tabernas 28th; Las Amoladeras 29th; Sorbas 31st.

107. Bonelli's Warbler : 2 Tabernas 28th.

108. Firecrest : 1 heard Sierra Nevada 30th.

109. Stonechat: 1 Cuevas de los Medinas 26th.

110. Blue Rock Thrush : 1 Sierra Alhamilla 25th; 1 lunch Sierra Nevada 30th; 3 Sorbas 31st.

111. Northern Wheatear : 1 raised beach Punta Entinas 27th.

112. Black-eared Wheatear: common in all dry habitats.

113. Black Wheatear : common in all rocky habitats.

114. Black Redstart : 1 Punta Entinas raised beach 27th; 2 Sierra Nevada 30th; 1 Sorbas 31st.

115. Redstart : 1 male Punta Entinas raised beach 27th; 1 Sorbas 31st.

116. Robin : 1 Sierra Alhamilla 25th; 1 Cuevas de los Úbedas 26th; 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

117. Nightingale : 3+ heard Sorbas 31st.

118. Blackbird : common in suitable habitat.

119. Song Thrush : 1 Sierra Alhamilla 25th.

120. Mistle Thrush : 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

121. Ring Ouzel : 2 Punta Entinas raised beach 27th; 1 Las Amoladeras 29th; 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

122. Long‑tailed Tit: 2 Sierra Nevada 30th.

123. Great Tit : 1 Sierra Alhamilla 25th; 2 Sierra Nevada 30th; 2 Sorbas 31st.

124. Coal Tit : 5+ Sierra Nevada 30th.

125. Blue Tit : 3 Sierra Nevada 30th.

126. Spotless Starling : common everywhere.

127. Magpie : 2 Punta Entinas raised beach 27th; 4+ Sierra Nevada 30th; 2 Sorbas 31st.

128. Jay : 1 Sierra Nevada 30th.

129. Raven : 2 Cabo de Gata salinas 29th.

130. Jackdaw : many every day.

131. Corn Bunting : a number at Rambla Morales 26th; Tabernas 28th; Cabo de Gata salinas 29th; Sorbas 31st.

132. Rock Bunting : 1 Cabo de Gata 28th; 2 Sierra Nevada 30th; 1 Sorbas 31st.

133. Cirl Bunting : 2 Sorbas 31st.

134. Chaffinch : 2 Sierra Nevada 30th.

135. Goldfinch : a number Cuevas de los Medinas 26th; Sierra Nevada 30th; Sorbas 31st.

136. Greenfinch : a few everyday.

137. Linnet : a few the last 4 days.

138. Serin : pairs almost everyday.

139. Trumpeter Finch : male, female and juvenile Cuevas de los Medinas 26th.

140. Crossbill : flocks overhead Sierra Nevada 30th.

141. House Sparrow : many every day.

142. Rock Sparrow : 1 Tabernas 28th; 1 Sorbas 31st.


Spanish Ibex: 4+ males and then female + young Sierra Nevada 31st.

Rabbit : most days.

Hare : 2 Las Amoladeras 27th.


Large Psammodromus : Cuevas de los Úbedas 26th.

Spiny-footed Lizard: 2 mating Cuevas de los Úbedas 26th; many other sightings in sandy areas.

Ocellated Lizard: 1 on road Cuevas de los Medinas 26th; 1 by greenhouses Punta 3'> Entinas 27th; 1 Las Amoladeras 29th.

Bedriaga's Skink: 1 beach at Rambla Morales 26th.

Ladder Snake: 1 Sorbas 31st.

Stripe-necked Terrapin: 2 Tabernas 28th; many at Sorbas 31st.


Marsh frog: heard Sierra Alhamilla 25th; Las Norias 30th.

? Parsley frog : 2 Sorbas 31st.


Swallowtail 26th.

Large White 31st.

Small White 28th.

Green-veined White 27th; 29th.

Bath White 26th, 28th.

Dappled White 31st.

Green-striped White 31st.

Clouded Yellow 25th, 26th.

Small Copper 29th.

Lang's Short-tailed Blue 31st.

Common Tiger Blue 27th.

Black-eyed Blue 26th, 28th, 31st.

Common Blue 26th.

Red Admiral 26th, 27th.

Painted Lady 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 31st.

Spanish Marbled White 26th, 31st.

Spanish Gatekeeper 28th, 31st.

Speckled Wood 26th, 31st.


Mediterranean Emperor - many at Punta Entinas 26th.

Vagrant Emperor - 1 Tabernas 28th.

Red-veined Darter - 1 immature. Sorbas 31st.

Common Darter - 1 Sorbas 31st.

© The Travelling Naturalist 2000