Wednesday 5 April 2017

Vera and District with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 5 April

Whilst I am down in the Odiel Marshes just west of Huelva for three days and yet to complete a report of out first two days, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group and have been very busy birding at the extreme opposite end of Andalucia in far Almeria province.  And reading Dave's report he seems to have beaten us to a first Purple Heron plus, of course, lots of other great sightings.

Black-winged Stilts (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns) 

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera
Wednesday 5th April

Grey Heron (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns) 
First some local bird news.  On Monday I found a White Stork on the running rambla between El Prado & La Cinta, Arboleas.  For the Western Andalucians that would not be remarkable but here in the East it's a rare sighting!  On the same day Gilly was driving near Almanzora village when a flight of 10 Night Heron flew over her.

Going local today. Gilly and I picked up Steve for the comparatively short drive to the Rambla de Almanzora.  We headed to the "Ford" meeting place by driving onto the rambla embankment near to the Desert Springs golf complex.  Here there was plenty of standing water.  We got Common and Green Sandpiper, Black Winged Stilt, Moorhen and Mallard.  Also saw a Corn Bunting.  At the Ford we met up with Barrie and Jan, Charlie, John, Jacky and Val.  We were joined by Les later.  It was a bit chilly in the shade but in the sun it was pleasant.  We began our walk up towards the sewage works.  We had both Kentish and Little Ringed Plover before Gilly spotted two flying Stone Curlews.  These landed on an arid area a bit further up.  We got there, but couldn't see them till they took off again.  Meanwhile, Gilly had glimpsed what she thought was a Night Heron disappearing in the reeds. 

Little Ringed Plover (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
In the meantime we saw Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, House Martins and Common Swifts.  I spotted our first Woodchat Shrikes of the year.  A Lesser Black Back Gull flew over.  Other small birds seen included Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Sardinian Warbler.  At the pool we added Redshank and a female Common Pochard.  Lots of Black Winged Stilt plus a Green Sandpiper confirmed by Barrie.  A large terrapin was sunbathing. Heading back towards the cars we stopped where Gilly had seen the Night Heron.  I managed to trace its whereabouts and got a quick photo before it was off again.  We also saw Snipe, Jackdaw and Little Stint before getting back to the vehicles.  On the rambla below us some scum lowlife had dumped the aftermath of their party.  I had a bin bag in the car. From there and later from the beach we picked up 107 beer bottles and put them in the bottle bank. 

Night Heron (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
After a refreshing cuppa we headed for the beach.  On the rocks outside the harbour entrance were some Yellow Legged Gulls and a Cormorant.  John, I think, spotted some Turnstone.  There was also a Little Egret feeding in  the shallows.  We walked over to the estuary.  We could hear Reed Warblers.  Les then spotted two Purple Herons landing on reed tops near the road bridge.  Unusually they posed well.  Moving closer to the beach, John saw an Audouin's Gull.  Sandwich Terns were diving  into the shallows.  There were numerous Black-winged Stilts in the pool plus a couple of Grey Heron.  I got back to the vehicles first (as I was carrying old beer bottles) and found the resident Whimbrel on the harbour-mouth rocks.

Purple Heron (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We then headed, via the bottle bank, to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum Supermarket at the back of Vera Playa.  Lots of water here.  We parked up, Les parking a bit further down.  We had the usual suspects. Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and Black-winged Stilts.  Then saw Les was waving furiously.  We rushed to see what he'd found.  A Red-knobbed Coot.  And it didn't have the usual ID collar!  John and Charlie found a Shelduck. We also had Little Grebe, White Headed Ducks, Common Pochard and a Teal.  We heard, then managed to see four Bee Eaters, the first of the year for Gilly and I.

Red-knobbed Coot (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
A great days birding with a few year's firsts in lovely company.  47 species in all.  We all then went for a scrumptious meal at the Bellavista, arranged by Val.  It felt a bit like an end of term meal (I used to have midnight feasts at my prep-school on the last night of term!).  It was Charlie's last outing as he and his wife Ann are returning to the UK as are Richard and Ruth.  We send them all our best wishes for the future.  Thank you, Val for organising the meal.
Regards, Dave
Jumbo-sized Terrapin (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

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