Tuesday 31 May 2022

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Monday 30 May

Met good friend Derek Etherton in Torre del Mar and then moved on to the nearby Rio Velez for an enjoyable couple of hours recording over thirty species. As we parked at the start of the track just beyond the underpass from the N340 it was very hot with clear blue skies but very windy with the strong gusts coming out of the west.  On arrival welcomed by singing Blackcaps and frequent movements of Blackbird and Goldfinch whilst a White Wagtail was feeding in the field to our left. I immediately noticed that since my last visit a tall, open wired fence had been erected from the recently installed entrance posts right down to the end of the track at the beach.  At least the bamboo cover will now be preserved rather than stripped at regular interval by local formers although unless regularly maintained it will become so dense as to make any observation of the river almost impossible.

Starting our walk along the track towards the hide we had views of both Collared and Rock Doves plus a number of feeding Barn Swallows and House Martins.  A feeding Spotted Flycatchers provided entertainment and then a couple of most handsome male Greenfinches alighted on the fence to our left.  A male Chaffinch was on the shaded rocks below the trees and more and more Nightingales were both seen and heard.

At last in sight of the remains of the river with a narrow channel of water that held a quartet of Black-winged Stilts and a Little Ringed Plover.  A little further away a feeding Glossy Ibis; surely the bird of the day.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

Arriving at the hide it was obvious that the recent works had also paid some attention to this area with the wooden fence protected the walk up to the hide now replaced and both a clean and coat of preservative to both hide and the seats opposite.  From the hide the lagoon, despite the continuing evaporation of the water, held a reasonable level and we soon found both Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers.  A couple of Black-winged Stilts were working the area and both House Martin and Barn Swallow feeding above along with a single Pallid Swift.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Soon we had found the lone Purple Swamphen on the far bank and an over-flying Yellow-legged Gull led to us finding the resting/sleeping score of gulls on the island away to our left.   Closer inspection suggested that the number were equally divided by Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls.  Derek even managed to find the single Crested Lark that was making its way between the gulls. Meanwhile, a Moorhen paddled across the water and a half-dozen sleeping Mallards were also revealed whilst on the other side of the lagoon we could see a part of seven Monk Parakeet heading up river..

As we left the hid to walk the remaining short distance top the shore we added a Spotless Starling and a couple of Serin were seen in the neighbouring trees.  The first of a couple of Cetti's Warblers was calling and from the beach looking back up the river we added a few more Mallard plus at least seven Moorhen and a single Coot. To finish our morning a walk back upstream on the far side produced a Hoopoe and, finally, a Great Tit, as we reached the car.  Most enjoyable in Derek's good company.

Birds seen:

Mallard, Glossy Ibis, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

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Friday 27 May 2022

Roquetas de Mar

Little Tern Sterna albifrons

Thursday 26 May

Making my way home from Elche in Valencia province I had the opportunity to spend almost two hours checking out the birding in Roquetas de Mar from around midday.  Hot and sunny with clear blue skies and no wind so always a chance that the bird life would be seeking shelter.  Arriving at the fresh water lake a small number of Coot and a handful of Pochard but otherwise very quiet.  A few Common Swift overhead and the occasional Barn Swallow and Black-headed Gull along with both Blackbird and House Sparrow on the residential side of the street.

Moving through the gates to the sandy track leading to the salinas I was immediately pleased (relieved) to see that there was, on this occasion, plenty of water at the side so offering the chance of a few waders and ere long, just past the first bend, I cam across the first Collared Pratincoles resting on the sandy track.  A few House Martins were feeding overhead and I was to see scores more once I reached my turning point near the pumping station runs.

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

At the back of the large water on my right a few Flamingos and a small group of resting Whiskered Terns. Then the cry followed by sightings of the many Black-winged Stilts and running around on the water edges a few Little Ringed plus many Kentish Plovers.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Then having seen my first I was soon inundated with Little Terns which obviously nested in the area along with many more Collared Pratincoles. Still House Martins above me and many more Common Swifts plus a few distant Little Egrets and a couple of Shelduck

Little Terns Sterna albifrons

The first stone causeway produced a small flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the neighbouring pool held nine Slender-billed Gulls.

Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei

Time to meet the quartet of feeding Dunlin and even a Ringed Plover in their midst.  Now a rather large gathering of Coot plus a single Greenshank before I continued along the track with a Purple Heron flying across the track in front of the car.  Lovely to then find the Mallard duck with her ducklings which suddenly gathered round her as they realised they were being watched!

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Once at the end of my drive and parked next to the ruins of the former pumping station I was able to observe the very large gathering of Flamingos and a trio of Yellow-legged Gulls on the pylon behind me. On the water a trio of Great Crested Grebes and time to start the reverse drive back to the road gates.

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

Taking an alternative route to pass behind the Collared Pratincole and Little Tern nesting site, and also to have the sun behind me, I came across a flock of resting Audouin's Gulls in addition to both Collared Pratincoles and Little Terns.

Audouin's Gulls Larus audouinii

However, biggest surprise was to find a pair of Little Stint in summer plumage and a Crested Lark crossed the track to come to rest at its side.

Little Stint Calidris minuta

A drive along the back of the salinas and down to my "hidden pool" produced more Little Terns, Black-winged Stilts and Little Egrets so back in the car and on my way home vis Las Norias.  A Magpie was sitting on the wires and as I approached Las Norias a quintet of Cattle Egret took off from the field on my left.  Time for a short refreshment break and driving around the waters of Las Norias apart from a lone Greenfinch just a couple of Coot and fifteen Great Crested Grebe on the main water.  But one must no forget the  occasional Collared Dove on the wires.

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Flamingo,  Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Magpie, House Sparrow, Greenfinc

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Little Stint Calidris minuta

Little Tern Sterna albifrons

Little Tern Sterna albifrons

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with young ducklings

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Wednesday 25 May 2022

El Fondo, Elche near Alicante

 Wednesday 25 May

Marbled Ducks Marmaronetta angustirostris

Amazing the species that you can see in less than an hour.  Working my way from Alicante airport having dropped Jenny off for her return flight to Bournemouth I headed for nearby Elche and my overnight accommodation before driving back to Velez de Benaudalla.  With the hostal being so close to the El Fondo reserve I decided to call in on the way and by 5,watching the overhead Common Swifts as I set off for the boardwalk at the back of the Visitors Centre.  A Robin as I left the car park and a couple of Glossy Ibis flew in from behind me.

Once on the boardwalk and overlooking the first pool to my left I immediately noticed the small flock of Glossy Ibis at the back and for the rest of the visit there was a continuous movement of these strange birds and at least thirty individuals noted.  Also present at the back a pair of Black-winged Stilts and both similar numbers of Mallard and Common Pochard.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

But even closer to me the first sighting of Marbled Duck as a pair swam close by.  Looking towards the centre and back of the water I counted a further dozen and, in total, at least fifteen present on the reserve. To my right a first Common Coot to add to the trio of Red-knobbed Coots seen.  Also present a couple of Great White Egrets and at least four Little Egrets,  Leaving the boardwalk near the reed bed a number of Reed Warblers were calling as I mad may way to the nearby hide overlooking the next pool.

Marbled Ducks Marmaronetta angustirostris

Once ensconced in the hide a dozen r more Flamingos away to my left and nearer to me a Little Grebe.  On my right a pair of Shelduck with a second pair and their ducklings at the back of the water.  However, on the island in front a good number of resting Avocets and more Shelduck.  To add a little variety, a Red-crested Pochard was also in their midst on the water.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta and Shelduck Tadorna tadorna but note the Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina

Making my way back to the car park by t e same route I quickly added a Cetti's Warbler and once at the Visitors Centre a check on the small pool behind added not only a further pair of Marbled Duck and Moorhen but a Purple Swamphen complete with just a single chick.  House Sparrows were present and above me the Common Swifts were feeding lower than upon my arrival.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio with single chick

Into the car and a drive to the far end of the reserve before turning towards the direction of my hostal and I added both Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove along with Blackbird, Serin and Bee-eater but the best sighting was that of a single Melodious Warbler at the side of the road on a small bush.  So, less than an hour and thirty species recorded.

Bee-eater Merops apiaster

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Flamingo, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, House Sparrow, Serin.

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

Little Egret Egretta garzetta but note the Great White Egret Ardea alba above

Marbled Ducks Marmaronetta angustirostris with Shoveler Anas clypeata
Marbled Ducks Marmaronetta angustirostris

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Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa


Wednesday 25 May

Whilst I was taking Jenny to Alicante Airport for her return flight to Bournemouth, Dave and his Arbloeas Birding Group exploring one of their well-known Almeria birding hotspots.  Great turn out and good number of species albeit visiting "disturbers" probably prevented more from being seen.  By the time Dave had written up his report (below) I had deposited Jenny at the airport and made my way to Elche.  Not immediately finding the overnight accommodation I had booked I carried on to El Fondo foe an enjoyable evening 45 minutes and impressed by the large number of both Marbled Duck and Glossy Ibis.   Now, instead of collapsing on the bed and dreaming a dram, I suppose I, too, had better get on and write my report.

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 25th May 2022

The threat of rain having dissipated, Juda and I headed for the Rambla de Almanzora.  As we drove slowly along the embankment towards the ford, we heard Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler and saw Moorhen and Magpie.  We saw the silhouette of a medium sized heron heading seawards.  Luckily Barrie who was waiting with Beryl, Frans and Marga on the opposite side identified it as a sub adult Night Heron.  They'd already seen Hoopoe, Common Swift, House Martin, Spotless Starling and a Woodpigeon.  We were joined by Abi and Jenni, Trevor, Peter, Jacky and her brother in law and his wife.  Also seen were Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

We travelled further up the rambla to where the road crosses it.  No water there so we carried further up. The first pool had some Black-winged Stilt on it.  We found a few distant Bee-eaters.  I spotted a pair of Corn Bunting.  Barrie added Cattle Egret and a Kestrel.  As we were leaving, a Glossy Ibis was seen flying away. 

We adjourned to a Villaricos cafe for coffee where we were joined by David and Myrtle.  Moving to the beach, where it was windy and the breakers were crashing over the harbour rocks, it took Barrie a bit of time to find a single Little Egret on one of the rocky islands.  A couple of Yellow-legged Gulls flew past.  We walked over to the estuary, scrambling up the sandy embankment.  Unfortunately there was an angler below us, but a scan by Barrie revealed Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover and a few Turnstone. There were Coot and Moorhen on the water, Jacky's brother in law found a Grey Heron near a Little Egret.  As well as some Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach, Barrie found a juvenile Audouin's Gull followed by a Slender-billed Gull.

Common Coot (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We then travelled to the dual carriageway behind Vera Playa which overlooks a wetland.  First on the list was a Common Pochard.  There were a number of Greater Flamingos.  Below us I found a couple of Redshank.  Barrie estimated there were about 30 pairs of nesting Black-headed Gulls.  Jacky found a Glossy Ibis.  We also found Black-necked and Little Grebes and White-headed Ducks.  Barrie found an Avocet on a nest.  On the point down the far end were numerous resting Greater Flamingos and a Shelduck.  I spotted a single Whiskered Tern.

Avocet on nest with Kentish Plovers (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved round to the elevated viewing platform opposite the Aquaparc.  The pool was overgrown with blanket weed.  We saw Coot, Moorhen and White-headed Ducks.

Blanket weed covered pool (PHOTP: David Elliott-Binns)

A disappointing ending to a good day birding in good company. We ended up with 42 species.

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Saturday 21 May 2022

Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar

 Saturday 21 May

Looks like friend Dave managed to squeeze in an extra Arboleas Birding Group visit this week with his visit to that monstrosity of plastic and rubbish surrounding the huge irrigation lake at Las Norias followed by a shortened visit to nearby Roquetas de Mar.  On the other hand, it certainly looks, judging by the birds seen, that it was all worthwhile.

Las Norias and a little bit of Roquetas: Saturday 21st May 2022

As Rob and his girlfriend, Charlotte, were only here for a few days, Saturday was the most convenient for both of us to go birdwatching.  Juda wanted to come as well, so she arrived at mine early.  We picked up Rob and Charlotte and headed south on the A7/E15.  Advance warning.....The Highways Authority are in the process of altering all the kilometre marker posts and eventually the junction numbers from the Murcian border south.  How far it will spread along the coast to Malaga and beyond, who knows?

We met up with Barrie at the Repsol garage cafe at Jct 420.  After a cup of coffee we made our way to the Las Norias lake's first causeway, seeing a Cattle Egret en route.  On the power lines we saw a Kestrel and Collared Dove.  Before I could sort out my scope, Barrie had spotted a flying Little Bittern disappearing into the right hand reeds.  Luckily for us late starters it made a return journey low over the water a bit later.  On the water were numerous Great Crested Grebes, a number of female Red-crested Pochard, Coot and a Mallard.  Down the far end I found a Cormorant and a Black-headed Gull.  Robbie heard a Reed Warbler.  A Night Heron flew over followed later by a Purple Heron.  Also seen were Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin and House Sparrow.  Rob found a Little Grebe with chicks on the lake behind us. 

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved round to the second causeway, having been thwarted at our other usual stops by piles of rubbish and overgrown vegetation.  We heard Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler.  We heard then saw the first of about six Turtle Doves on the power lines.  Rob was ace at spotting overflying Glossy Ibises.  A Yellow-legged Gull was seen followed by a Squacco Heron.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We then drove to the far end of Roquetas to a small shallow pool Bob Wright had shown me some time ago.  We had good but distant views of Gull-billed Tern.  There were Black-winged Stilt and Slender-billed Gulls in the water. 

A Zitting Cisticola (Sorry, Barrie...Fan Tailed Warbler) was eventually seen.  A Little Tern made an appearance as did a Ringed Plover.

That was our final bird as the access to the Roquetas salinas and the large lake was denied by local police due to a fun run road race.  Double drat!

We ended up with 33 species.  Good birding in good company.  It was hot though!

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Thursday 19 May 2022

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

Thursday 19 May

Lovely morning at the Rio Velez with my dear friend Bryan Stapely who who arrived yesterday evening from Darlington for a week's holiday at Torrox Costa.  Collecting Bryan at 9 we were at the river around thirty minutes later and ready to set off from near the road bridge towards the hide, newly repainted and tidied up, overlooking the newly-created lagoon, albeit now showing signs of further reduction due to the ongoing evaporation.  No sooner on site than we were welcomed by the resident House Sparrows and a passing quartet of Monk Parakeet.  A Spotted Flycatcher, one of five seen during the morning, had established itself on the nearby fence and the Nightingales were letting us know that they, too, were present in numbers.

As we walked down the track to the hide a group of Goldfinches flew over along with a pair of Mallard.  In the stream (river!) at the back the first of the morning's Little Ringed Plovers and a pair of Moorhen.  A handful of Blackbirds were also recorded in this area.  

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

And so on to the hide where we noticed that, at last, some remedial work had been undertaken to clean and add preservatives to the hide and adjoining furniture plus removing the broken rails.  A few Barn Swallows were feeding over the water plus a larger number of House Martins.  The latter were also collecting mud for their nests.  These were than joined a small number of Pallid Swifts and later Common Swifts making use of the surface for feeding and/or  drinking.  at the water's edges a pair of Black-winged Stilts and good numbers of both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers.  In addition a pair of White Wagtails were also recorded. 

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

It was whilst looking towards the sea to identify the resting gulls that we noticed, at first three, but looking closer no less than seven resting Squacco Heron. What a lovely sight.

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

Meanwhile, a handful of Rock Doves flew along the far bank and we picked up the first of two Purple Swamphens.  With regard the gulls, having quickly identified a couple of Black-headed and half-dozen Yellow-legged Gulls, it was really delightful to also note that there were a dozen Audouin's Gulls in the roosting area.

Mainly Audouin's Gulls Larus audouinii

Yellow-legged Larus michalellis with Audouin's Gulls L.audouinii (rear) and Squacco Heron to front

Time to move on and from the beach we were able to look up the river and see more Moorhens and at least a dozen Mallard.  Walking back along the far bank we quickly found a small number of Reed and a couple of Cetti's Warblers,  Then more Blackbirds and Nightingales and ere long we were almost back to the car when we had our first raptor of the morning as a male Kestrel hovered above us.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

A drive under the bridge to check out the growing fields up river produced a couple of Woodchat Shrikes on and off the wires along with a handful of Spotless Starling.  So off to Velez Malaga to top up the fuel tank and then out the back of the town to take the Camino Algarrobo through the lovely site of Las Campinuleas where we encountered over a dozen Bee-eaters.  For me one additional treat as entering the gorge of the Rio Guadalfeo towards Velez de Benaudalla a Hoopoe crossed the road in front of me.  A lovely end to a most enjoyable morning in Bryan's wonderful company.  Enjoy the rest of your holiday Bryan and Paula.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator

Birds seen:

Mallard, Squacco Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Audouin's Gulls Larus audouinii

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