Friday 5 January 2018

Almanzora and Vera with the Arboleas Birding Group

Friday 5 January

The reports seem to be coming in thick and fast so goodness knows when I will be able to start, nevermind finish, my own blog!  new Year and birthday treats over it looks very much a sif Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group are back on the road again, this time to relatively nearby Vera despite all the canal visits of the wrong sort!

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Thursday 4 January

The first Arboleas Birding Group outing was delayed for 24 hours as I had root canal dentistry on the Wednesday.  Gilly had hers on the Tuesday and is still suffering. Therefore, twas only me en route early to the Desert Springs end of the Rambla de Almanzora.  The only bit of water at that end contained a pair of Teal, a pair of Mallard and a Little Grebe. 
The newly-cleared Rambla de Almanzora (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I carried down towards the road bridge nearing the estuary, stopping briefly for a chat with Les, so I could see what had happened to the reed clearing operation.  As you will see from the photograph, the reeds have been totally removed and a channel dug to centralise the water flow.  The reeds will regenerate, but I don't think the channel will be good for birdwatching. We shall see.  I added Black Redstart, Stonechat by the time I'd retraced my steps to the "ford" meeting place.  My bird spots were then trumped by John who'd stopped at the Rio Agua and had seen a Purple Swamphen and the Ferruginous Duck, but Les won with a Common Crane flying over on his way from Turre!  We were joined by Kevin, Pete, Dave and Myrtle.  John also had seen a Snipe by the ford.  We commenced our walk towards the sewage works. Many Chiffchaff flitting about the shrubs. We heard a Cetti's Warbler. We also added Robin, Magpie, Spotless Starling and Collared Dove.  A Yellow Legged Gull flew by and two Grey Heron took off from the large pool, on which were Common Pochard and Mallard.  A Green Sandpiper was down the far end. I spotted a Hoopoe on a distant pylon. We saw Chaffinch, Serin and Greenfinch.  A Common Sandpiper was by the weir. John found some Northern Starlings up on the power lines.  We headed back towards the vehicles seeing much of the same. Down by the ford there were many Moorhen and Mallard.  An Egret flew off, Les confirming it as a Cattle Egret. A Water Pipit was seen briefly.  John, who'd walked further along saw Grey Wagtail, Snipe, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover and Black Winged Stilt.
We adjourned for coffee and tostada in Villaricos village where we met up with Trevor and Ann.
Suitably refreshed we made our way to the beach.  I quickly scanned the rocks.  I saw a  Sanderling together with a larger red legged wader, saying Redshank, but Kevin corrected me.  It was a Turnstone.  On the harbour rocks there were Cormorant, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls. The Whimbrel briefly showed itself.  Scanning the sea for Razorbill and failing, I did find a Great Crested Grebe.
Juvenile Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Adult Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Cormorants doing what they do best! (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
We then walked over to the estuary.  It appeared the Coot were beginning to start nesting.  There was a line of Cormorants on the half-submerged water pipe posing nicely.  Closer to the beach there was a large flock of Black-headed Gulls on the water interspersed with the odd Audouin's and Mediterranean Gull.  I spotted an adult Gannet far out to sea.  On the muddy edge by the beach we found Dunlin, Little Stint, Redshank and both Meadow and Water Pipit.  John found a Grey Plover on the rocks as well as Kentish and Ringed Plover.  A Little Egret was also seen.  A Sandwich Tern out to sea was feeding by instead of diving from a height was sort of belly-flopping into the sea.  Maybe it was having a wash?  Further along the beach there was a line of assorted gulls and terns.  Audouin's, Mediterranean, Black-headed Gulls and more Sandwich Terns.
We then made our way to the dual carriageway opposite the Vera Playa Consum supermarket.  Les saw a Jackdaw on the way there.  Apart from more Black-winged Stilt, Teal, Mallard, Little Grebe and Coot we added Shoveler.  The immature Greater Flamingo was still there.  Les spotted a pair of Black Wheatear way up by the mobile mast.  Before dispersing, I was saying that I was surprised not to have seen a Crag Martin, when John pointed towards a bird above us.  Not a Crag Martin, but a Barn Swallow!  Les and John messaged me later to say they'd also seen Lesser Black-backed Gull, Crested Lark and a Kestrel.
We ended up with a creditable 59 species. Good birding, weather and company!
Regards, Dave

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