Tuesday 8 January 2019

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa

8 January 2019

The New Year is with us and already I have three reports to published received whist I was away in the bitter cold, little snow and much rain of northern Germany; should have stayed in the Spanish sunshine.  As expected birding is underway again with teh Arboleas Birding Group with tis first of the year and , later, a nother report form dave to thaat wondeful hotspot of El Fondo up near Elche.  For me, yet to make a start but I have already seen both Feral Pigeon and Monk Parakeet this year!

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 2nd January
A Happy New Year to you all.  To clear the celebratory cobwebs, I decided to ease in the new year with a visit to our local patch, the Rambla de Almanzora.  I picked up Richard and joined the rambla just past the Desert Springs golf complex.  We'd already seen some Jackdaws and a possible Little Owl, but added little as we headed towards the ford.  Mallard and Moorhen were seen on the only areas with water.  Small birds included Crested Lark, Stonechat, Black Redstart and White Wagtail. We had fly overs by Magpie, Hoopoe and Yellow Legged Gull.   The rambla from the water treatment plant to the road bridge had been cleared of virtually all vegetation and small channels created for the water. There was a small amount of water near the ford.  Hopefully it will recover in time.

Scraped area around the ford (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We were met by Adrian, Kevin, Alan and John.  John had already seen Woodpigeon and Northern Starling.  Large numbers of the latter and Spotless Starling were seen as we began to walk towards the sewage works.  Richard was first to see a Grey Heron followed by a Robin.  A Bluethroat made a brief appearance, but the majority of the small birds seen were Chiffchaff.  A Green Sandpiper shot along one of the channels.  Kevin spotted a female Teal on some water on the far side.  Also seen were Serin and Greenfinch.  We were joined by Brian and Mary.
On the large pool there was a small flock of Common Pochard with some Mallard, a pair of Little Grebe and a male Teal.  Alan found a Grey Wagtail and a Common Sandpiper on the water's edge.  I missed a Blue Rock Thrush on the far side, but did see the overflying Little Egret.  Also seen were Black Wheatear, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Goldfinch and Sardinian Warbler.  Val joined us as we got back to the cars.
After a reviving cup of coffee in Villaricos village, Alan and John had a scan over the promenade wall and added Gannet and Sandwich Tern.  Richard spotted a resting Kestrel as I was driving.  There were anglers on the beach so initially we only saw a Cormorant on the rocks until sharp eyed Kevin spotted a Kingfisher thereon.

Record shot of the distant Kingfisher Alcedo atthis  PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
On the land side of the estuary we added Coot, but also saw Grey Heron and Mallard.  A Blue Rock Thrush was eventually showing well atop a tree.
On the beach end of the estuary, there was a flock of 16 Audouin's Gull in a raft.  On the sea were Black Headed Gull and Cormorant.  Kevin spotted a Black Necked Grebe with the help of Alan.  He then added a Turnstone. I saw a trio of Sanderling flying past.  There were more on the rocks together with Dunlin and Kentish Plover.
We made our way to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum Supermarket behind Vera Playa. Richard thought he'd seen a Marsh Harrier en route.  Alan said he thought it was a Booted Eagle and sure enough two were seen soaring above the shop.  Shortly afterwards at least three Marsh Harriers were seen, confirming Richard's sighting.  In the distance was a large flock of Crag Martins.  On the water there were huge numbers of Black Headed Gulls with some Mediterranean Gulls as well.  There were Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Teal and Shoveler as well as Little and Cattle Egret.  We then moved down to the newly constructed concrete platform opposite the Aqua-Park car park.  The height gave us good views over a medium sized pool. I  immediately spotted a single male Ferruginous Duck.  We also added White Headed Duck.  Richard and I left, but Alan , John and Val wandered round to another pool.  Here they added Common Snipe and Water Pipit to the day list.
A lovely days birding in glorious sunshine and in good company to start the year off.   A highly respectable 57 species seen!
Regards, Dave

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