23 December, Río Almanzora, Arboleas Birding Group

A pre-Christmas escape for Dave Elliott-Binns to the mouth of the río Almanzora in eastern Almería whilst I was driving down from Madrid, seeing only a ring-tailed Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrels and a single Southern Grey Shrike with a death wish flying in front of the car at 120 (well, nearly) on the Auotvía de Andalucía/A-4, the usual delightful Azure-winged Magpies in Despeñaperros and flocks of starlings spp. and sparrows spp..

And to all readers of this blog, a very happy Yuletide, that someone in your family has had the intelligence to buy you the binocs, telescope, camera, telephoto (delete as unwanted) that you so much desire, and especially, good birding in 2010. Thank you for putting up with my drivel (Dave's is excepted) and I hope you continue to read on next year.

Rio Almanzora,
Wednesday 23rd December 2009
Having escaped duties in the house, I made a personal visit to the Rio Almanzora, near Villaricos. The skies were grey and there was drizzle in the winds. The civil engineering works related to the Cuevas desalination works is continuing but the huge cranes by the estuary have gone. Access is still restricted. They appear to have dug a channel with boulder sides leading to the shore line. A causeway, some 400m long reaches out to sea. If access to this is eventually allowed it would be a very good sea watch point....so long as you can beat the fishermen to it! Today wouldn't have been a good day out there as the spray from the choppy sea was exploding over it. A Great Crested Grebe and at least 6 Black-necked Grebes were fishing close to shore as was a solitary Razorbill. A few Cormorants were further out. I saw a total of five Turnstones and one Sanderling by the waters edge. About 20 Sandwich Terns were diving over a presumed shoal of fish. Yellow-legged, Black-headed and the occasional Audouin's Gull flew past. I then drove up the rambla towards Cuevas de Almanzora. The pools by the crossover no longer exist, they having been destroyed during the above mentioned works. There were a few pools further up which might have some potential once vegetation has grown around them The only waders I saw in this once wader hotspot was a Green Sandpiper and my bird of the day, a single Golden Plover. A total of 26 species. I'm slightly more optimistic about this spot, but it's going to take some time to recover. Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas from a chilly eastern Andalucia.

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