Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa
Wednesday 24th May 2017
There was no trip last week for a number of reasons, one being that they found I had a blocked artery, so I now have another stent fitted and hopefully everything will be okay. First a bit of bird news. Barrie and Beryl found some Trumpeter Finches just north of Carboneras, near to the illegal hotel. They're getting closer! Now today's report :-
With Gilly working again (Bless her!) I left home early to check out the Rambla de Almanzora from Desert Springs golf complex down to the ford meeting place. As I was preparing myself at the start (putting binoculars round my neck) I saw a Iberian Grey Shrike high up on the power line above me and a Jackdaw flew by. Up this end there was still some pools of various sizes. Almost all of them contained Black-winged Stilts and Mallards in eclipse plumage and many with ducklings. The only other wader I saw was a Kentish Plover. There was a constant fly past of Common Swift, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and House Martin. Other birds included a solitary Bee-eater, Moorhen, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling and Goldfinch. I reached the ford with plenty of time to spare so I continued to the road bridge, hearing Reed Warblers in the beds below me. I crossed over and headed to the beach passed the now disused pumping station. Nothing really down there, but on the way back I saw a pair of Stone Curlew landing in a barren field near the road. Retracing my steps towards the ford I added a Black-headed Gull. At the ford itself there were Black-winged Stilt, a Little Ringed Plover with chick plus families of Mallard. As I was waiting for the others to arrive I also saw Magpie and Collared Dove.
Barrie and Beryl were first to arrive, followed by Paul and Kath, John, Les, Colin (Best wishes to Sandra who had a fall and injured her wrist/arm on Monday) and finally Jacky. Thank you to Kath for allowing me to press-gang her to be scribe for the day. The first birds we saw were basically a repeat of what I had already observed. As we were chatting, John said he'd only seen his first Great Spotted Cuckoo of the year last week. Within a minute I found one perched in a tobacco plant. We heard then saw a Sardinian Warbler. Les spotted a Greenfinch. We saw more Bee-eaters. A Cetti's Warbler was heard. I found a Serin near the sewage works. On the pool there, Paul found a Ringed Plover. On the main pool there was a Little Grebe. Resting on the graveled surround were Mallard and a male Common Pochard. A Crested Lark flew to a traffic sign on the far side. Then I caught sight of a Grey Wagtail in flight. It landed near the weir. Some saw it through the vegetation, but not me. A Blackbird flew low over the shrubs and Jacky was the first to see the flying Hoopoe. We first heard a Stone Curlew call, then it flew, landing near the shrubs by the broken down concrete rambla wall. We walked back to vehicles and headed for Villaricos village for coffee.
Suitably refreshed we made our way to the beach. John saw a Kestrel on the way and Barrie got a Black Wheatear.
The sea was quite rough with waves breaking over the harbour rocks. No birds there, but there was a Little Egret adjacent to the beach. A Yellow-legged Gull flew by. I saw what I thought was a Cormorant feeding in the breakers further along the beach. Moving over to the near end of the estuary, a Zitting Cisticola was heard. Barrie and Les then said my Cormorant was in fact a juvenile Shag. On the estuary water there were only Moorhen and Coot. John spotted some Audouin's Gulls on the distant beach. As we began to make for the beach a Turtle Dove was seen perched in a tree. It took off for a display flight and was joined by his mate. They landed in the dense shrubs. Jacky then spotted a flying Purple Heron which must have been on the waters edge just below us. It flew into the reeds opposite. At the shallows at the beach end of the estuary we saw Kentish Plover and Little Egret. There were 5 Audouin's Gull at rest. Three Turnstone flew along the shoreline. The Shag was still out to sea but moving further away. Tried and failed to get a record shot. We were surprised to that the resident Whimbrel was still there on the rocks despite the breaking waves and the ever increasing numbers of holiday makers.
Saying good bye to Colin, we made for the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera Playa. There were shed loads of noisy Black-winged Stilt plus Mallard and Coot. There were Common Pochard and White-headed Duck, some with ducklings. Eventually three Grey Heron were seen. Barrie spotted a magnificently plumaged Black-necked Grebe. I checked the number of Black-headed Gulls sitting on nests. I reckon 35-45 in total plus on Little Egret sitting as well. I said my goodbyes at this point and headed home, only to get an email from Barrie to say a Hobby appeared just after I left. Don't you just hate it when that happens!
We ended up with 50 species. A really good days birding in good company.
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