8 December, río Almanzora and Antas, Arboleas Bird Group

A report from Dave on a 'local' trip in these days of unseasonal warmth, although with the occasional good storm to leaven the nights. Thanks for the book plug, Dave!!

As many of us have commitments we decided to "do a local" this week, so Brian, Mary, Gilly and myself headed the short distance (comparatively!) to the Rio Almanzora estuary. We approached initially from the rambla to the north where the new desalination plant is located.(see pages 283/4 in Andy Paterson's book, "Where to watch birds in Southern & Western Spain). The rambla was devoid of standing water all the way past the plant till just before the smaller old desalination plant by the "ford". This area used to be a hotspot for waders, but just north there appeared to be an off road motocross track construction. We spent some time birding by the ford. Having already noted Cattle Egret, Stonechat, Hoopoe and Black Redstart on the journey down, a Cetti's Warbler was heard, tens of Chiffchaff were seen but the star, spotted by Mary (said I would mention her in dispatches!) was a sitting Kingfisher, partially obscured by reeds. Hopefully shows the water quality was good. The only waders we saw were a pair of Black-winged Stilts and a single Green Sandpiper. There was quite a bit of water from there down to the estuary but we saw only glimpses of it due to proliferation of Tamarisk nd Shrub Tobacco plants. Good for the birds but not so good for the observers. Loads of Moorhens were grazing.
There are still major works going on at the estuary itself so we had a quick scan out to sea. Gannet and Cormorant were spotted. I spotted a female Blue Rock Thrush before we headed to the beach near to Villaricos harbour. On the small rocky islands there were about 10 Cormorants resting, as were a Grey Heron and a Little Egret. There were also about a dozen Sandwich Terns and on the beach itself a Turnstone and Kentish Plover were seen.
We then headed towards the Rio Antas pool. We stopped en route near to the Aquapark where opposite is a largish expanse of shallow water. It was obviously the "in" Coot place to be as there were 100s of them with small numbers of Little Grebe and Shoveler and a Teal or two. A Southern Grey Shrike was also seen.
There was not a lot of interest at the Rio Antas pool, only Mallard, Moorhen and Cormorant, probably due to the fact it was a Bank Holiday and the beach was awash with people and their dogs. Brian and Mary had visited a week or two earlier and had seen a Water Rail there. On the way home we spotted a Booted Eagle near Vera.
Lovely weather with good birding with 40 species seen.

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