Friday 23 February 2018

Arboleas Birding Group visit to Rambla de Almanzora and Vera Playa

Wednesday 21 February

No sooner back home and wondering how on earth I am going to get all the reports completed, especially with a visit to the King's Walk (Camino del Rey) at El Chorro on Thursday than I receive the following report from Dave re his Arboleas Birding Group visit to the Rambla de Almazora and Vera Player.  And it certainly sounds as if Dave and company had a great day's birding.

Rambla de Almanzora and Vera Playa:Wednesday 21st February

Thought we'd go to our local patch this week.  I was on my own as I headed past Desert Springs Golf Complex entrance and turned left onto the Rambla de Almanzora.  At that end there was no water, not even in front of the man-made weirs.  I did see a Blackbird.  Once I got nearer to the "ford" there were small pools which produced Moorhen and Mallard.  I then spotted a Bluethroat, but the light was all wrong for a good photograph.  There was an Iberian Grey Shrike on the power line and a Stonechat on a shrub.  On the seaward side of the crossover the flooded channel gave me Grey Wagtail, a Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Little Stint.  I was joined by Les at the parking area. He'd seen the same birds, plus a Teal and Serin.  We added Black Redstart and Woodpigeon waiting for the others to arrive.  We were joined by John, Alan, Trevor and Ann.  A more thorough scan of the channel produced a Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Les identified a Temminck's Stint.  A Hoopoe and some Spotless Starlings were also seen. 
Would you believe, a Bluethroat Luscinia svecica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Walking up towards the sewage plant we saw numerous Chiffchaff and heard Cetti's Warbler.  In the large pool Alan found a Common Sandpiper.  A Black Winged Stilt flew in.  Above the hills were some Crag Martins and Alan spotted a Kestrel.
As we walked back towards the vehicles an adult Night Heron flew majestically up the rambla giving good views.
We checked out the pools on the opposite side, seeing the Bluethroat and Teal again.  A calling bird turned out to be an Iberian Grey Shrike partially hidden by shrubs.
Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
After a cuppa in Villaricos village, we headed to the beach.  Arriving first, I found the resident Whimbrel on the rocks by the harbour entrance.   Nearby were Cormorant and Yellow-legged Gulls. After some searching we added Gannet and Sandwich Tern feeding out at sea. 
We then walked over to the estuary.  There were loads of flighty Black-headed Gulls as well as resting Cormorants and some Coot.  Only saw one Moorhen.  John spotted a Common Pochard and Les did well to spot a Grey Heron, its head only being visible!  Moving further towards the beach, I managed to find an adult Mediterranean Gull in full breeding plumage in the large numbers of Black-headed Gulls.  Alan spotted two Audouin's Gulls on the beach.  John found a distant Cattle Egret.
At the beach things were not good due to walkers and a convoy of 6 quad bikes cutting across near where the small waders feed.  We did see Meadow Pipits in abundance.  Some waders did eventually return.  John found Turnstone and Sanderling.  In fact the waders had congregated on the rocky point. Numerous Dunlin, Little Stint, Ringed Plover and Les finding a Kentish Plover.
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Saying our goodbyes to Trevor and Ann, the rest of us headed for the dual carriageway.  Les spotted the first of two female Marsh Harriers.  There were less Shovelers than seen previously, but more Teal.  There were the usual number of Black-winged Stilt, but they were joined by a Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, a pair of Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank and at least two Snipe.  The quartering Marsh Harrier flushed out three Avocet.  Due to the sun's reflection off the water we all missed the ten Greater Flamingo until Les, searching for Little Grebe, found them.  6 Little Grebe were seen as well as two Little Egret. 
There's been a lot of pipework going on down the Consum supermarket end.  Looks like it's nearly completed.  The good news is that they appear to be constructing a raised walkway on a solid earth bank which will enable you to see over the reeds!
Male Stonechat Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove down to the pool opposite the Millionaires Bar in Vera Playa where earlier in the day John and Alan had seen an immature Common Gull.  Also in the last week Alan has seen a Moustached Warbler.  Unfortunately lots of people around, including kite-surfers had virtually cleared the pool of gulls.  There was no sign of the Moustached Warbler either, possibly due to the gusty wind.  We did see Meadow Pipit and White Wagtail.  As we were about to leave a small flight of Mediterranean Gulls arrived.
We ended up with 57 species. Good days birding in good company!
Regards, Dave

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