Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Rio Almanzora & Vera Playa with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 13 December

Birding for me will have to wait until the wee-end by friends Derek and Barbara Etherton paid a visit to their local patch at Zapata behind the airport in Malaga and managed to record about 40 species in a couple of hours including many Bluethroat.  Meanwhile, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group have been out exploring the Rio Almanzora and Vera Player in very warming weather and Dave's report follows.
 
Rio Almanzora and Vera Playa   -   Wednesday 13th December

I left Gilly poorly in bed with a heavy cold. It was hovering just over zero degrees as I made my way towards the rambla west of the Rio Almanzora estuary.  I joined it just past the Desert Springs golf complex.  There was one bit of water on which I found Mallards, Moorhen & a Little Grebe.  Nearer the ford I came upon Les.  He'd managed to see Teal, Redshank, Dunlin, Little Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Black Winged Stilt, Grey Wagtail, Stonechat & Blackbird.  Whilst waiting in the parking area above the ford a Little Egret flew past as well as a flock of Northern Starling and a female Black Redstart came and checked us out.  Major "deforestation" work was being done between the ford and the road bridge presumably in case of heavy rains.  We were eventually joined by 12 other members including Lily, a relatively new birder, and returning visitors, Roger and Diane.  John and Alan had spotted a Common Snipe before arriving.  We walked up the rambla towards the sewage works seeing the first of numerous Chiffchaff.  A Cetti's Warbler was heard.  There was a Common Sandpiper in the first pool.  On the larger lake we saw a small number of Common Pochard.  A pair of Green Sandpipers were by the dry weir and a pair of Hoopoe were spotted by Kevin.  Jacky found a Robin.  Once we got back to the cars a number of the group took their vehicles over the other side of the rambla to look down over the water from that side, whilst the others decided a cuppa was in order.  I didn't chose wisely although the hot coffee was very enjoyable!  John and Alan spotted a Jack Snipe and a Kingfisher was also seen.
Female Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After everyone had been suitably refreshed, we made our way to the beach.  On the harbour rocks were Cormorant, Turnstone, Sanderling and a Little Egret.  Above us were the occasional Crag Martin.  We moved over to the estuary where we found lots of the reeds had been removed.  They will regenerate rapidly so we weren't too upset.  Lots of Crag Martins here, plus Coot, Chiffchaff and another Robin.  John found a female Blue Rock Thrush perched in a tree.  Further towards the beach there were about 50 Cormorant together with a huge flock of gulls... mostly Black Headed, but some Mediterranean, Audouin's and Yellow Legged.  A Sandwich Tern was seen as well as a few Grey Heron.  Dave Green spotted an Iberian Grey Shrike on the far side. 

Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

I then spotted a bird perched in a leafless tree near it.  A Wryneck.  A lifer for some of the group.  We moved on to the beach.  We could see the water level in the pool was higher than sea level.  On the muddy fringes we had Ringed and Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Stonechat and White Wagtail.  Heading back towards the vehicles along the beach, a Grey Plover flew onto the rocky peninsula, joining the Sanderling, Kentish Plovers and the resident Whimbrel.  Also there were a small group of resting Sandwich Terns.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Some of the group left us, whilst the rest made for the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket, behind  Vera Playa. Jacky spotted a Shelduck.  There were more Teal, some Shoveler, a single immature Greater Flamingo and a couple of White Headed Duck.  Checking the roof line of the flats behind us, I found a Black Wheatear.
More farewells as John, Alan and myself made our way to the bridge over the Rio Aguas, Mojacar Playa where we met up with Trevor and Ann.  Alan managed to spot the reported Ferruginous Duck sleeping in a reed island.  Four had been seen earlier and had been there for nearly a week, I believe.  I had to head back to Villaricos so I added a Jackdaw en route.  The temperature, by the way, had increased to a tropical 22c !!
Ferruginus Duck Aythya nyroca (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Great days birding in good company. 49 species in all.  Thanks to Val for being the scribe!  Apologies if I got the "spotters" wrong.  It's difficult with a large group!
So many in the group theat they could well be "Twitchers"
Bit of a plug for friend, group member and author....Kevin Borman has released the sequel to his acclaimed book, "Flamingos in the Desert".   Out now...." Where Hoopoes fly".  A cracking Christmas present?
Regards, Dave
Cover of Kevin's new book


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