Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Rambla de Almanzora - Wednesday 30th November 2016

You wait for one then two come along at the same time!  No sooner had I finished writing my blog than in pops a report from the Arboleas Bird Group's visit to the Ramble de Almanzora in Almeria province.  And it certainly sounds as if Dave and Gilly's return to Spain ended with a cracking day's birding.

Wednesday 30 November

A first Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Gilly & I have returned from our 7 week stay in the UK.  Today the group was meeting at the "ford" overlooking the Rambla de Almanzora under the charge of Alan.  As Gilly was secretary, I suggested I did the report.  There was Les, Val, Colin, Sandra and us three previously mentioned. The weather was OK.  There had been rain overnight in Arboleas. 
Looking down onto the rambla we had Moorhen, Mallard and Magpie.  A Grey Heron and a Black Headed Gull flew by.  Les saw Greenfinch whilst Alan and I happened to be scanning when a Kingfisher shot through our vision.  As we walked up towards the sewage works a male Black Redstart perched on the fencing.  We heard both Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers.  I saw an Iberian Grey Shrike flying away and a pair of Green Sandpipers were flushed.  At the first settling pond there were only Collared Doves and Moorhens.  In the larger pool there were many gulls, which took to the air as we appeared.  Mostly Black-headeds but one or two Mediterranean Gulls as well.  There were Shoveler, Common Pochard and Little Grebe.  On the waters edge further up was a group of 4 Dunlin.  Also seen was a Little Egret and Crag Martins.
We walked back to the vehicles.  Gilly and I got in with Les, whilst the rest joined Alan in his car.  We first dropped down onto the "ford" to check the pool there.  We were rewarded with more Dunlin, a Little Ringed Plover, one Little Stint and four Temminck's Stints.  Sharp-eyed Gilly found a Water Pipit.  We then drove up the far side road below the embankment, seeing Northern and Spotless Starling and numerous pairs of Stonechat.  When we got to the next crossover was ( just near where the Solitary Sandpiper was many moons ago) we were met by workmen doing traffic control.  They were planting a water pipe down the rambla, which meant there were no pools in that area.  (Hope the pools return in due course!)  We crossed over and drove on top of the embankment away from the estuary.  We added Jackdaw by the goat pens and a Kestrel.  There was some water by one of the low dams.  There were two Snipe and some Black Winged Stilt.  We carried on and crossed over to the opposite embankment to head back.  On this side there were a few pools.  We stopped at one which  had two Ruff, the next a Wood Sandpiper.
As we drove on a large bird of prey flew close to our car. By the time we'd got out it had been joined by a second and both were silhouettes.  Les had spotted a pale and streaky chest on the first one and Gilly had managed a distant record photo.  Later diagnosis concluded them to be Bonelli's Eagles, a first for us in this area.  We carried on.  Gilly shouted, "Stop. There's a wader in the left end of that pool!"  Les and I spotted a Green Sandpiper, but we were in the wrong pool.  Gilly said it was a Snipe but different and she'd got a photo.  As we drank our coffee in Villaricos village an examination of the photo confirmed it to be a Jack Snipe, another first for the area!
We then drove down onto the beach, where there was a strong offshore breeze creating high waves. Understandably, there were no foolhardy birds on the awashed harbour rocks!  I usually put the photos at the end, but I'm putting this one in now as a competition. It was taken by Gilly of the rocky outcrop.  There are six waders there of five species. Answers later :-
 Clue...The waders are all on the same level as the big one in the middle!
(PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)

We saw a few Sandwich Tern out to sea before walking over to the estuary pool.  There was a small raft of Common Pochard and a single female Red Crested Pochard with them. There were a few Cormorant, Little Grebe and Mallard, a Little Egret and a Grey Heron. 
Further towards the beach I found four Black Necked Grebe.  We walked to the beach.  As we came into view a large group of gulls/terns took off but thankfully returned.  There were Audouin's Gulls and Sandwich terns. Some Black Headed and Mediterranean Gulls joined later.  Alan spotted a Sanderling and a Ringed Plover.  Four Turnstone flew in.  I found a solitary Gannet out to sea.  Walking back along the beach, hawk-eyed Gilly spotted some waders on the rock outcrop.........the answer is.....from left to right..... Grey Plover, Whimbrel in the middle, Sanderling, Turnstone, Sanderling and finally Kentish Plover!
That concluded our fantastic day out. 55 species in all.  Bonelli's Eagle and Jack Snipe were the birds of the day.  Gilly won first prize for spotting! 
 Dave Elliott-Binns

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Ruff Philomachus pugnax (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)

Snipe Gallinago gallinago(PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)

Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Distant record shot of Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
Audouin's Gulls Larus audouinii with Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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