Wednesday 22 March 2023

Rio Almanzora and Vera Playa with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 22 March

It sounds like a great day's birding for Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group.  All those sightings of both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows reminds we in the UK that our Barn Swallows should now be about to, hopefully, descend upon us.  Here, to date, so far only mention of a few Sand Martins. I really like Dave's comment about the Iberian Grey Shrike on its "resident" power line.  How true this of so many species, whether it by the Crossbills that I would regularly see at the top of the old tree at the Alcaucin picnic area or the Little Owl that always rested on the same pile of stones at the edge of the arable land beyond Ventas de Zafarraya and, I am sure, many others will have similar tales to relate. Still looking forward to catching upon all those missed Spanish species when I return in may.

Rio Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 22nd March

After my tiring, but very enjoyable, exploits at El Fondo on Monday, today I kept it local and decided to go to the Rio Almanzora and Vera Playa.  I picked up Juda at La Alfoquia and we made our way to the Rio Almanzora rambla, joining it at the Desert Springs golf complex end.  There was a bit of stagnant water below the first weir which contained some Moorhen and a Mallard duck.  The shrubs provided Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a Linnet some vantage points.  Juda spotted a Magpie and I identified a pair of Red-billed Chough flying over.  The "resident" Iberian Grey Shrike was on the power line again.  Our first Barn Swallow of the day flew by.  Also saw House Sparrows before we got to the ford.  There we flushed a Green Sandpiper.  Juda spotted a pair of Teal.

Iberian Grey Shrike (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We were joined by Trevor, Phil and Sue, Peter, Phil 2 and Peter 2.  Peter spotted a Common Sandpiper down by the dyke.  There were numerous Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, together with House Martins, flying around.  Amongst the shrubs we saw Chichaff.  Phil identified one as a Willow Warbler. Some Woodpigeon were also seen.

We convoyed to the beach outside Villaricos.  There were numerous Cormorants on the harbour rocks and feeding nearby.  There were a pair each of Yellow-legged Gulls and Little Egrets also on the rocks. Unusually there was a small group of Black-winged Stilt there as well.  Peter 2 added Spotless Starlings on the tower and some Sanderling on the island rocks.  A Blackbird flew by.

Black-winged Stilts (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved round to the embankment overlooking the estuary.  Here we added Greater Flamingos, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover and Little Stint.  Phil 2 found a Shelduck.  I had some Shoveler.  Also seen were Coot, Moorhen, Little Egret, Cormorant and Mallard.

We adjourned to the "Shark" bar at Villaricos where Phil 2 very kindly bought all the coffees.  We then headed to the dual carriageway overlooking the pools opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera Playa.  Phil spotted a Kestrel followed by a Redshank and Ruff.  The first shallow pool as usual contained numerous Moorhen and Black-winged Stilts.  Phil 2 spotted three Grey Heron on the far side. I added Whit-headed Duck and Little Grebe.  Sue found a Whiskered Tern.  A single Glossy Ibis was seen.  We also saw Greater Flamingos, Black Headed Gull, Shoveler, Coot, Shelducks and Black-winged Stilts.

We drove round to the Acuaparc car park and crossed the road to the elevated viewing platform overlooking the pool.  There were numerous White-headed Ducks plus a pair of Black-necked Grebes. Phil added Common and Red-crested Pochard.  Sue saw five distant Whiskered Terns.  Phil was first to see a pair of Jackdaw fly over . A whole squadron of Cormorant also flew over.

Male Red-crested Pochard (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended up with 45 species.  Great weather, great birds, great company.  Safe journeys to both Phils and Sue who head back to the UK soon.

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