25 March, Río Almanzora (Almería)

Here is tangible evidence that Dave is on the up and up with his report on the trip that Gilly and himself made to the río Almazora estuary on Thursday. The best bits are probably the early Bee-eater and the habitat improvement. I know how Dave feels about humping equipment- it's no joke!

Dave, a word of advice about retail therapy: (a) start to feel unwell - you, unfortunately, have had the perfect excuse, (b) ensure that you have no cash on you (lie like trooper if necessary) and (c) the person who wants it uses her own card on her own account! Mine pulls the trick of getting me to go for one thing and then deciding that she would also like to go to see other things. It makes life a bit argumentative but is worth the effort.

Gilly and I decided we'd spend some more time together by taking a look at our closest birding spot at the Rio de Almanzora rambla and estuary. On the journey down there I had a distant view of my first Bee-eater of the year and a Great Spotted Cuckoo. As "someone" wanted to do some retail therapy afterwards we joined the rambla near to Desert Springs and headed towards the coast. Having been very pessimistic about the desalination works being constructed adjacent to the rambla and the destruction of most of the shallow pools, I was very pleased to discover that prior to the desalination plant there were numerous pools that contained water and subsequently waders, the most prevalent being Black-winged Stilt and Common and Green Sandpiper, Greenshank and Redshank were also present. There must have been about 50 Yellow Wagtails (iberiae) feeding and resting around the edges. Also feeding were about 100 Barn Swallows together with some Sand and Crag Martins. A couple of Pallid Swifts made an appearance. They have not arrived in numbers here yet. Meadow and Water Pipits were observed, as were Corn Bunting.
Near to the ford some of the pools had recovered, but as yet there was no surrounding foliage so little bird activity. We carried on down to the beach at Villaricos as the usual route down to the estuary and pool had been blocked off by the continuing pipe workings. Near to the Roman remains site we saw our first Woodchat Shrike of the summer. We then walked along the beach towards the new 400 metre long rocky spit by the estuary. There were two Whimbrel some Audouin's Gulls and Sanderling on the rocky areas of the beach. On the spit it self we could only see Cormorants. Humping cameras and scopes along soft sand was exhausting for me, so we headed back, failing to reach the esturary pool itself.
Travelling towards Mojacar, there's a birding spot before you get to the Aquapark. Turn right at a roundabout directing you to the La Peperina urbanization. You'll see a large expanse of water to your left below the level of the road. Here we had more Black-winged Stilts, a Grey Heron (still no Purples seen) and some Pochard. Further along we also saw an Avocet.
42 species for the day, so reasonably happy, as I am about the improving habitat in the Almanzora rambla.

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