13/02 : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

Having been under the weather with a cold, sinusitis and allergy, plus day after day of cold winds blowing down off the snowy sierra - I was going to say that I was hors de combat but in view of the horse meat scandal in the UK I thought better, this report from Dave E-B recently returned from enjoying (?) the British climate is most welcome. Note his final comment!

Having only returned from a chilly UK late last night I'd decided some time ago that a local trip would be in order. Gilly and I met up with 12 other members above the Rambla de Almanzora, near to Villaricos. The weather was bright and sunny, but there was a cool wind. A Grey Heron flew by. In and on the shrubs around and below us we saw Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, White Wagtail and heard Cetti's Warbler. In the pools on the Rambla we spotted a pair of Snipe, Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts and a number of Green Sandpipers. A Water Pipit, Crag Martin and Hoopoe were also seen. We walked along the cycle path towards the Desalination Plant. At the nearly dry gully we had Greenfinch, Serin and Chiffchaff in the trees and shrubs. Kevin spotted a Bluethroat in the gully, as was a Grey Wagtail. Gilly found a Red-billed Chough calling from a pylon on the opposite side of the Rambla. It was joined by a second as they flew off. Also seen were both Reed and Rock Bunting, temporarily perching on the chain link fence surrounding the pool. Further along on the shallow water prior to the man made weir were about 10 Dunlin and a one legged Kentish Plover.
     After a reviving cuppa in Villaricos, we headed down to the beach. On the rocks by the harbour entrance there were Cormorants, pale fronted juveniles and and adults with the white courtship patches. With them were a couple of Black-headed Gulls and an Audouin's Gull. A small grebe beyond the breakers was assumed to be a Black-necked. The cold wind was gusting as we trundled along the beach. A Whimbrel flew off into the glare of sunlight together with probable Sanderlings. On the spit near the estuary were more Cormorants and some Yellow-legged Gulls. Alan spotted some Common Gulls in the group. We walked back along the track through the shrub & reed area, but didn't add anything to the list. Myrtle and Colin with others retraced their steps along the beach & got a better view of the Whimbrel and also saw an Oystercatcher. A re-check of the rocks near the cars produced a pair of Turnstone.
     We then convoyed to the pools opposite the supermarket off Vera beach. Here we added Shoveler, White-headed Duck, Teal and Common Pochard. Gilly spotted a Lesser Black-backed Gull in a soaring plume of gulls in front of us. Another pair of Red-billed Choughs was with them. Spot of the day went to Alan, our now resident gull expert. Amongst the 100s of Black-headed Gulls, he saw a couple of Mediterranean Gulls. Kevin spotted a quartering female Marsh Harrier. Also seen were singles of Barn Swallow and House Martin.
     Great to be back birding amongst friends. Missed the banter!


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