22/02 : Villaricos and Vera

From Dave E-B, which I regret to say I overlooked this midday whilst trying to get umpteen things done at once, including that vital commodity called food. Sorry, Dave, but the record shot of the Penduline Tit comes out very badly so I had to eliminate it.
Things are moving, Chiffs are starting to move through again, as are Blackcaps (I had 5 together in my garden this afternoon, 23/02). In fororoa Birgit Kremer reports 12 Brent Geese from in front of Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) whilst Antonio Miguel Pérez had 13 spp. of waders, 2 Water Rails and a total of 67 spp. at the Guadalhorce yesterday (22/02). Federico and I are off to Fuente de Piedra tomorrow, so we may have something interesting to report.

Firstly I'd like to welcome Heather and Jack Murrell and Phil and Sue Naylor to our group. I'm glad to say they would've had a good days birding with us. We all met up at the "ford" on the Rio Almanzora rambla. We were greeted by a very vocal Southern Grey Shrike high up on the power lines. We took a slow walk along the newly constucted, but not yet quite complete, walking/cycle track towards Cuevas de Almanzora which overlooks the rambla. There were still hundreds of Chiffchaffs. We saw Greenshank, Snipe, a few pairs of Little Ringed Plovers and noisy Black-winged Stilts. There were about half a dozen Teal, a single Cattle Egret and a Grey Wagtail. As we reached the water deposit a Grey Heron flew off and a Water Pipit was noted on the waters edge on the rambla. But the best birds until this point were a pair of calling Red-billed Choughs flying from the fields up to the hills to our right.
We turned round and headed back passed the vehicles towards the road bridge. Some Goldfinches and a Hoopoe were seen. I then spotted a small bird flying, then landing on a tamerisk shrub in mid rambla - a Penduline Tit. Thankfully it was seen by all the group. Managed to get a "record" shot. We have seen them in the area before, but down by the beach about 5 yrs ago with Richard Gunn.
We then moved en mass (11 members today) to the beach. Workers were doing pipeline construction on the flat parking area near the cafe. On the rocks were numerous Cormorants, a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls and an Audouin's Gull. A dozen Sanderlings, a Greenshank and a Grey Plover were on the rocks, as was a Kingfisher which I spotted but went before I could point it out. Out to sea were 3 Gannets, a couple of Black-necked Grebes and a Great Crested Grebe. No sign of Razorbills. Also noted was a complete void of Stonechats!

After a reviving cuppa and snack in Villaricos we headed to the pools at Vera. Here we added Shovelers, Little Grebes, Coots and Crag Martins. Still no hirundine influx. Phil did well to spot a magnificant adult Booted Eagle soaring in the distance. Oh yes, a few Stonechats as well!!Down at the pool opposite the 'Consume' supermarket, there were 100s of Black-headed Gulls and also seen were 6 White-headed Ducks and about 30 Common Pochards.

A very good day's birding, hopefully enjoyed by the new members, with 46 species for the day.

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