19/12 : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

And now another contribution, the second for today, this time from Dave, Gilly and the Arboleas Group, to all whom I wish a very good Yuletide and New Year, particularly to Dave for his chronicles, and, especially, good birding to all.

As Britain is shivering in the cold, eleven members of our group met up under blue skies and full sun at the "ford" above the Rambla de Almanzora, near Villaricos. It was a bit chilly to start with, but warmed up later. The rambla itself is beginning slowly to regenerate after the devastating floods of late September. We quickly signed off the usual suspects of White Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Magpie, Collared Dove and, at this time of year, Black Redstart. We both heard and saw Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers. We spotted a few Chiffchaffs, but not as many as our previous visit. Below us on the rambla were numerous large shallow pools. The male Mallard shone with new plumage.  Brian spotted a Snipe. Also seen were Cattle Egret, Ringed Plover, Green and Common Sandpiper. The few smaller birds were identified as Stonechat, Robin and Water Pipit. As we walked further along we saw Serin, Hoopoe and Southern Grey Shrike
At the sewage works were Black-winged Stilt, a pair of Redshank and a solitary Wood Sandpiper. In the Rambla, where there is a pool before the man-made rock "weir", we saw a small group of Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Little Stint. A Grey Wagtail was also seen.
Penduline Tit by Mary
     After a refreshment break in the village we headed for the beach. The sea was as flat as a tack. There were Cormorants and an Audouin's Gull on the rocks by the harbour entrance with a Sandwich Tern fishing nearby. We saw at least 12 Black-necked Grebe on the sea together with a Great Crested Grebe. A distant Whimbrel was spotted on the rocks by Adrian . There were two Grey Herons on a rocky spit as well. I have to say the estuary has great potential. There is now an island on which birds can breed undisturbed, a narrow entrance leading to a large pool, leading to an area of reeds. Adrian and I headed back towards the vehicles chatting about our recent Moroccan experiences as the others followed behind. Got a text from Gilly to retrace our steps. She'd spotted small bird movement in the reeds. She'd only found a group of probably six Penduline Tits.  (Had previously seen some in that area many years ago with Richard Gunn). 

Marbled and White-headed Ducks
     On that high, we headed for the pool opposite the Consum supermarket at Vera. We soon added Shoveler, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe and Coot to the list. A majestic male Marsh Harrier flew over. Gilly then spotted something in the vegetation opposite. She needed the telescope to pinpoint the bird as none of us could pick it up. Two Marbled Duck. Luckily they came out into the open for a swim. Brian, Adrian and Mary later saw a Kingfisher as well.
     A very good days birding with a total of 47 species. As this is the Arboleas Birding Group's last official outing before 2013, Gilly and I would like to wish all members and readers of Andy Paterson's blog a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Best wishes & good birding,

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