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!
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.
|Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
|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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