Thursday 27 April 2017

Arboleas Birding Group to Almanzora and Vera

Thursday 27 April

Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group might have found the rain but at least here, in Mezquitilla, it came before breakfast so I was able to visit Fuente de Piedra for the morning in the dry.  More later.  Meanwhile, I can't wait to get Dave's photos up on the computer and see if I, or you, can identify his mystery "Spotted Redshank" and "Wheatear" species.

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera playa
Thursday 27th April
Due to a bit of a communication breakdown, the trip details went out late and then neither John or I could do Wednesday, hence it was a Thursday.   Les unfortunately pulled out due to a bad back.  We wish him a speedy recovery.  Leaving Arboleas early, I made my way to the Rambla de Almanzora, joining it just past the Desert Springs golf complex.  At this end there were lovely shallow pools with a slow flowing brook to the side below where I was driving.  There were numerous Black Winged Stilt (30 - 40) spread out down to the ford as well as a good number of Mallard.  A Common Sandpiper flew off.  I saw the odd Moorhen and a pair of Little Ringed Plover.  I also logged at least 4 individual Wood Sandpipers.  On one of the concrete weirs I saw what I thought was a Spotted Redshank in half winter to summer plumage (See end).  Got a photo, so someone will hopefully enlighten me! 

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At this point I'll say the weather was cloudy (giving me an excuse for some slightly dodgy photos!). Also seen were Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, Crested Lark and Spotless Starling.  A Bee-eater was on a power line and a small number of Little Stint was seen by a pool, as was a pair of Little Ringed Plover.  I heard a Reed Warbler, but John  who I met by the ford had heard both Cetti's Warbler and Nightingale.  He also added Wood Pigeon to the day's list.  As a result of what I'd seen, we agreed to retrace my drive for John.   Didn't see as much due to a dog walker with two lurchers in the rambla, but he did see one of the Wood Sandpipers.  John spotted both a Woodchat and a Southern Grey Shrike.  By the time we returned to John's car it was raining so we retreated to the Villaricos village cafe for a coffee. 

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
When we'd drunk up, the rain had virtually stopped so we headed for the beach.  The only bird on the harbour rocks was a Turnstone.  A Cormorant was on the sea.  I then spotted a small bird on the rocky bit of the beach, further towards the estuary.  The light wasn't good, but could tell it was a Wheatear of some sort.  We wondered if we could get a better view from the other way.  We drove first to the estuary.  Here we had Coot, Moorhen and a very obliging Grey Plover, Turnstone and Kentish Plovers; if only I had bought my camera out and not worried about the few raindrops!  On the beach we found Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls together with 3 Cattle Egret and some Sanderling.. Some Sandwich Terns were patrolling the waves.  Checking for the Wheatear, we couldn't see it but did see the resident Whimbrel.  Out to sea I found a distant Gannet.  We returned to the vehicles and parked back near to where we'd seen this Wheatear.  Sure enough I found it again.  I got as close as I dared to get a photo.  I did see the tail markings; black bar at tip with central black line to rump.  I can only think it's a female Northern Wheatear, but it looks too "rusty" as John put it. Whatever it is, as far as I can recall, it's the first Wheatear we've ever had on the beach.  Also seen was a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Greenfinch.

Wheatear? Looks like a female Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe to me (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove down to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera playa, seeing White Wagtail and Jackdaw on the way.  As we parked up, a Black-headed Gull flew over together with numerous House Martin.  Below us there were shed loads of Black-winged Stilt.  We also spotted numerous male White-headed Duck.  We hoped the lack of females may suggest they were sitting on nests nearby!  Also seen were Common Pochard and a Little Grebe.  I spotted a Shelduck over the far side with some nearby Kentish Plovers.  We checked all the Coots we saw hoping to see the Red-knobbed variety that Les saw last time we were here but , alas, no.  Before we headed for the laguna I found a Goldfinch.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At the beach side laguna we saw more Mallard, eventually 4 Sandwich Tern together with 3 Mediterranean Gulls.  We heard Reed Warblers and John spotted one out on show.

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 52 species in all. A very good mornings birding, but left with a few unanswered questions regarding the Spotted Redshank and the Wheatear!
Good to see that there were lots of White-headed Ducks on show but, unlike Dave, I had two true pairs and very frisky they were, too.

Still moulting Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalu (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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

Davis seems to think this amt be a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus.  What do you think?

Possible  Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Poor light, head at an angle so you cannot see the full length of the bill and legs look green/yellow rather than orange/red. If I look hard I think I can make out the slight decurve at the beak's end   Appears to be a white supercillium so, perhaps, others may want to be more positive in their confirmation.

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