Thursday 25 January 2018

Almanzora and Vera Player with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 25 January

Whilst I was departing a rather cloudy Malaga to spend ten days back in the UK, Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group were off to the Rambla de Almanzora and Vera Playa for an enjoyable day's birding which produced a grand total of 55 species.  My good news?  The rain had stopped and the wind almost calm when I arrived at East Midlands and whilst waiting for the connecting transport to take me to my rental for the stay I managed to see Pied wagtail, Rook and carrion Crow.  The bad news was that Green Motion took an hour and forty-five minutes to arrive at the airport for the ten minute journey to the nearby Hilton Hotel!  I could have walked to the hotel in that time and the excuses I heard as to why the car had yet to arrive; most were pure standard lies.  Why not just say there are only two on duty and they are having to do both the paper work and collect.deliver customers?  Green Motion?  More like Green Non-motion and I only use the word "Green" as my eventual car was a Citroen "Cactus!"  But the sun is shining this morning and, all being well, I get to visit Rutland Water in the morning and Norfolk on Sunday, watch this space.

I loved Dave's apology about the "White Balance" and wonder, come next week, will he sporting a blue rinse to make him feel more at home!

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 24th January

A couple of weeks ago Jacky asked if the group could go to the Rambla de Almanzora this week.  We could, but alas she wasn't able to! Sorry, Jacky, you missed a good day!  I picked Richard up and made our way to the "ford", seeing Mallard, Moorhen & White Wagtail on the way.  Crossing the rambla to reach the meeting area, we also had Water Pipit and Chiffchaff.  There we met 11 other members, including Diane, a photographer... I could do with some help as you'll see later!  On the way, John and Alan had seen a Booted Eagle near the Aquaparc and Les had seen Snipe, Teal, Black Winged Stilt and Redshank amongst others.  We commenced our walk heading towards the Sewage works seeing the usual suspects...Magpie, Collared Dove, Northern and Spotless Starling, Stonechat and numerous Chiffchaff.  Richard spotted a Grey Heron, which disappeared into the reeds, but later flew up the rambla.  Les saw a Southern Grey Shrike. Male Serin were out a'courting, display flights and singing atop tobacco plants.  We heard but never saw a few Cetti's Warblers.

At the sewage works there was only a White Wagtail and some Collared Doves.  On the big pool we saw only Mallard.  Around the weir we flushed a Green Sandpiper.  A Robin was seen.  Walking back David saw a Black Wheatear and Richard saw a distant female Blue Rock Thrush (identified later by photo). Then an amazing sight, unfortunately not recorded on camera.  A male Peregrine Falcon cruising at eye level up the rambla.  Diane spotted some Teal and Black Winged Stilts.  Most of the group then walked over to the other side of the rambla to check out shallow pools over there.  We were followed by a huge flock of sheep.  Luckily they were directed onto the rambla, so I didn't have to use my sheep whisperer skills! 

Sheep on the way, already died to make those lovely blue jumpers (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Looking down onto the pools we saw more Mallard and Moorhen.  Alan spotted a skulking Bluethroat which showed itself intermittently.  Alan also found a Snipe, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover.  We then adjourned to the Lucky Bar in central Villaricos for coffee and tostadas.

The new, blue-tinted Mallards Anas platyrhynchos (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Suitably refreshed we made our way to the beach.  As we arrived a squadron of 8 Greater Flamingo flew south.  There were fishermen on the rocky outcrop along the beach.  All the waders were on the rocks outside the harbour.  There must have been at least 50 Sanderling as well as Dunlin, Kentish Plover, Turnstone and the resident Whimbrel.  Two Yellow Legged Gulls and some Cormorant were also at rest.  I spotted some Crag Martins above the town and Richard saw some Crested Larks.  Over at the estuary, we could see a Little Egret.  Someone spotted a Purple Swamphen just visible in the opposite reed line. 

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio relaxing in the blue grass - must be in Tennessee! (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Ace Coot man, Les, then found an uncollared Red-knobbed Coot!  A first for there I believe.  There were also normal Coot, Mallard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe and Black-headed Gull.  The Greater Flamingos were flying again.  Beachside we also saw an Audouin's Gull, Sandwich Tern and a small group of waders which included Ringed and Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Little Stint.  Due to the anglers there was nothing added on the return walk along the beach.

Red-knobbed Coot (or should that be Blue-knobbed?) Fulica cristata (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Convoying to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera Playa we could look down on the shallow pools.  More Tead and Black Winged Stilts plus a few Shoveler.  John (?) spotted a quartering Marsh Harrier on the far side.  Further down I saw there were some Shelduck at rest. The single immature Greater Flamingo is still in residence.  Diane found a Stonechat.  Alan then spotted a high flying Booted Eagle, presumably the same one seen earlier.  We then went our separate ways.  Alan and John checked out the small pool opposite Consum and added White Headed Duck and a passing Wood pigeon.

We ended with 55 species for the day. Good weather, birding and company.
I apologise now for the photos. I seemed to have changed the "white balance" inadvertently, hence the blue rinse!  Needed the manual to change it back!

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