Whilst I managed a little over thirty minutes checking out conditions at Zapata whilst awaiting jenny's return flight from the UK, Dave and his hardy crew were up north, well east I suppose, in the far reaches of Andalucia. I thought it was cold in Malaga with a temperature of 8C at 1 pm but as can be seen in Dave's report some place can reach depths that no sun-lover should ever contemplate! For me, not so much the feeding Crag Martins over what was a gentle ford but now a raging torrent but rather the lovely female Marsh Harrier that drifted over opposite the airport's boundary fence and quickly followed by a magnificent and handsome male. A local breeding pair?
Wednesday 18th January: Rambla de Almanzora & Vera
We're hardened birders up here in north-east Andalusia! Was 3 degrees in a fresh wind going to put us off? Never....but a close run thing! We were meeting at the ford in the Rambla de Almanzora. Reports had suggested that birding wasn't that great due to pipe-laying works. Gilly and I motored in from the Desert Springs end. Most of the usual pools had disappeared. On the ones that were left we managed to see Green and Common Sandpiper and some Mallard. Also saw Goldfinch, White Wagtail, Magpie and Moorhen. At the ford we had another Green Sandpiper. We met up with John, Alan, Les, Rod, Colin, Val, Trevor & Ann. We were all suitably attired for the freeze! A male Black Redstart flitted between the cars for shelter. Walking up towards the sewage works we saw both Northern and Spotless Starling, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Hoopoe, Robin, Iberian Shrike, Serin and Chiffchaff. Black Headed Gulls flew by and a male Kestrel was seen to catch prey and fly off.
An executive decision was then made to warm up at the Villaricos cafe. Suitably refreshed we moved to the beach. The sea was quite rough. A few Cormorant were on the harbour rocks. A Turnstone and a Sanderling flew by and a Sandwich Tern was diving for fish. Alan then spotted a single Razorbill in the harbour entrance. Quite difficult to see as it only spent a second or two on the surface before diving again. We then walked over to the estuary where Les was the only one to see a Kingfisher shoot fast and low back behind us. A group of mainly Black Headed Gulls took flight on our arrival. Les clocked at least one Mediterranean Gull amongst them. Also seen were Little Egret, Coot, Dunlin, Kentish Plover and Little Grebe. I spotted a Great Crested Grebe just offshore. An island of resting seabirds included Audouin's and Mediterranean Gulls and Sandwich Terns. John located a distant Gannet, confirmed by Alan. Walking back towards the vehicles I found a Grey Plover, some Sanderling and Kentish Plover on the rocky isthmus. As we were leaving Les saw a Black Necked Grebe on the sea.
We then convoyed to the dual carriageway overlooking the pools opposite the Consum Supermarket behind Vera Playa. The water had returned. Crag Martins were flying above the shrubs. We found Black Winged Stilt, Teal and Shoveler. Alan spotted a Grey Wagtail. A White Headed Duck was also seen. Gilly and I left before a male Marsh Harrier appeared.
John and Alan checked out the laguna by the Millionaire's Bar and added Lesser Black Backed Gull and Water Pipit.
Considering the cold weather and the works on the rambla a species total of 51 ain't bad! Thank you to John for being in charge this week. John, Alan and I are sharing the leadership of the group from now on. Photos by Gilly.
I'm off to El Fondo this Saturday with more of the group. Snow is possibly on the cards! Regards, Dave
Sounds as if some birders are determined to make the most of El Fondo whilst the possibility of a rarity or two still exist.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.