Wednesday 15 January 2020

Villaricos & Vera Playa with Arboleas Birding Group

15 January 2020

latest report from my friend David Elliott-Binns following his day's visit with the Arboleas Birding Group shows that , once again lots of good birds found by the members.  I notice that lots of Black Redstart and Northern Starings are being seen this winter and for Dave and friends the arrival of Barn Swallows must have brought a smile to many a face.

Wednesday 15th January: Villaricos & Vera Playa

I decided we'd go local this week, so having picked up Claire outside Humbugs Cafe I drove down to the coast to the Rambla Almanzora at Villaricos.  In total there were 24 members out today, a possible record!  I thought the large number might be a problem, but apart from parking in Villaricos village at coffee time the day went well. 

The first problem was that I'd forgotten to bring my notebook, so unfortunately (not) John had to write down the birds seen.  Richard spotted a Robin and also on the list were Collared Dove and Magpie.  A Green Sandpiper was in the ford water.  Jacky had seen a Snipe on her walk from the beach.  Also seen from the car park were Moorhen, Northern Starling,  Black-headed Gull, Moorhen, Black Redstart, Mallard and White Wagtail.  Walking up towards the sewage work we all commented on the lack of birds on the water.  Another Green Sandpiper was seen and Alan added a Redshank.  A Serin and Greenfinch were perched on the fence.  Numerous Chiffchaff flitted about.  On the way back a Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover were seen on the small pools.  Also seen was a Grey Wagtail.  A Cetti's Warbler was heard.  Back at the ford pool we saw a pair of Black-winged Stilts.

After a coffee in the village we made our way to the beach.  Cormorants were on the harbour entrance rocks.  I spotted the "resident" Whimbrel on a closer rock.  Crag Martins were flying low over the rocks.  A Yellow-legged Gull and Turnstone were also seen.  Alan spotted a distant Gannet out to sea. We then walked over towards the estuary.  A tremendous amount of work is being done building up the sides with sand banks, but there still were a few birds around.  The star was a Kingfisher which was fishing on the opposite reed line.  There were three Grey Herons, Coot and Little Grebe.  Nearer the beach was a single Audouin's Gull together with a Sandwich Tern and some Black-headed Gulls. Near them was a Grey Plover and a small flock of Dunlin.  A raft of distant black birds on the water proved to be Cormorants in the end.  On the beach John found Kentish Plovers and a Sanderling on the rocky outcrop. 
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then convoyed down to the dual carriageway behind Vera Playa.  Several Stonechat were seen. Amongst the scattered bushes in the water we saw both Teal and Shoveler ducks as well as Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe.  Two Marsh Harriers were quartering over the reeds.

Moving round to the far elevated hide near the Aguaparc we had good views of about 20 White-headed Duck plus Shoveler and Teal.  I spotted a single Barn Swallow among the Crag Martins.  I then found a Ferruginous Duck, just as John arrived, having walked from the dual carriageway, saying he'd also seen one plus a Blackbird. 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A Little Bittern flew low over the water.  Another birder pointed out what we agreed was a Willow Warbler giving good views just below us.  I left at this point.  John and some others stayed on and were awarded with views of Black-necked Grebe, Booted Eagles and Purple Swamphen.

Willow Warbler  Phylloscopus trochilus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Adding those to the total, we ended up with 55 species for the day.  Very good days birding in good company.  Was good to see Richard and Maria again.  Also Jim and his daughter, Natalie.
Regards, Dave 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Interesting photograph of the Willow Warbler confirming how difficult these little phylloscopus warblers can be to identified, especially if relying on leg colour.  The "black" of the Chiffchaff can sometime be quite "light" whereas the Willow Warbler's "yellow" legs can often be quite "dark" - and that's before we take into account sun and shadow, etc.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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