09/01/2013 : Río Almanzora & Vera

First, I regret to report the sudden death this last weekend of Mario Mosquera, one of the original five of the then young Gibraltar birders who renovated the GONHS. I saw little of Mario but he was unfailingly pleasant and a mine of information, a thoroughly nice chap. He will be much missed and I presume that you will join me in expressing condolences to his family and to the Gibraltar birding community in general.
A side comment which is being reflected from reports within the Med. Spain sector and also the Cantabrian coast : where are the Balearic Shearwaters? I've not seen one yet. Any reports with site and numbers will be most welcome. 
Now to more pleasant news from Almería where Dave, Gilly and the Arboleas group ventured out on a chilly morn - it was unpleasantly cold and windy here in Torremolinos too - and visited the río Almanzora and Vera with a stop in Villaricos for what sounds like a much needed coffee. Herewith Dave's report (not tardy today, Dave!). I just hope it's less windy and rather warmer when I hope to be down at the Guadalhorce tomorrow morning.
Boy, was there a chilly wind above the Old Ford, Rambla de Almanzora when Gilly and I and 9 other members of the Arboleas Birding Group met up there this morning! Before most had arrived, we'd already ticked off (meaning = noted, not annoyed!) Stonechat, Black Redstart, Kestrel, Robin and a passing Grey Heron. Down on the pools in the Rambla we saw Mallards, Black-winged Stilts, Redshank, Green and Common Sandpipers, Kentish and Ringed Plover and Water Pipits amongst the numerous White Wagtails. We walked towards the Salination Plant, adding Little Ringed Plover and Grey Wagtail. The area around the small sewage works was unusually devoid of birds apart from Coot and Moorhen in the concrete gully. Small birds seen were Serin, Greenfinch, Blackbird and loads of Chiffchaffs. With numb fingers we retreated to Villaricos village for coffee.
     It was then down to the beach, seeing a Southern Grey Shrike on the way. The rocks near the harbour entrance only had Cormorants sitting upon them with a Yellow-legged Gull following a fishing boat in. Although the sea was relatively flat, a ripple obscured good views of the Black-necked Grebes. I spotted a very distant Gannet. We walked along the beach seeing only a single Whimbrel and one Grey Plover. Once down at the newly formed estuary we added 4 Audouin's Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and some Sandwich Terns. The walk through " Penduline Tit" alley only added Sardinian Warbler and Crested Lark to the list.

     We then drove to the pool opposite the Consum supermarket at Vera. Here there were numerous Shovelers and White-headed Ducks together with some Common Pochards and Little Grebes. Gilly spotted a Booted Eagle high above, being harassed by Crag Martins.

      We ended the trip with 43 species and a sumptuous lunch supplied by Val and Tony. Most grateful! 

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