27/02 : Río Almanzora y Vera

On a day when the weather here in Torremolinos was absolutely unspeakable and according to my sister it was warmer in Leeds (!), even worse awaits us tomorrow according to the metcast. Spring may have sprung with you today, Dave, but it had crawled back into its hole here! And that's after seeing my first Pallid Swift of the year yesterday (26/02) and Chiffs (up to 7 in the garden two days ago) and the first Willow Warblers moving through the garden, while Ron Appleby reported ca.140 Common Scoters off the Guadalhorce yesterday as well as 6 Green Sandpipers and Blas López saw around 25 Razorbills, the most seen all winter, off Torremolinos (and I didn't). Antonio Tamayo has seen the first Garganey at the Guadalhorce. Further west around Barbate, Stephen Daly tells me of early Nightingales, which have also been reported from Gibraltar, and a wheatear sp. last Saturday. But the very bad - and I mean very bad -weather, for tomorrow and which is forecast to cover all the SE quadrant of the Peninsula does not bode well for the early migrants, the hirundines, raptors and all the caboodle.
However, the Arboleas Group doesn't let weather deter them! Read on, MacDuff, and damned be he/she who cries enough! Ah, the advantages of a classical education when I wasn't watching birds and getting afternoon detentions .....

 Due to expected high winds down at Almeria, I decided it best to return to our local patch at Rio Almanzora near Villaricos. There were 15 of us at the meeting place....a very good turn out. Would like to welcome Barrie and Jan, Carolyn and John to the group. I must admit the wind was definitely on the chilly side as I made introductions above the newly restored "ford". Commencing birding we soon picked out 3 Shovelers, a pair of Mallard and some Black-winged Stilts on the pool to the far side of the rambla. Slightly further up we had both Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers. At least 4 Green Sandpipers were seen. A Water Pipit was spotted by Gilly. On the shrubs were Black Redstarts, Stonechats, Serins, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. Above us was the occasional Crag Martin and a flight of Barn Swallows. A Grey Wagtail was observed. As we walked further towards the Desalination Plant we added Common Sandpiper, Moorhen and a late leaving Chiffchaff. Beyond the man made weir we saw Dunlin, Sanderling and a Redshank.
     After a warming coffee in the village, we headed to the beach. There was an offshore cold wind over the choppy sea. As we parked up I saw a Black-necked Grebe. There were the usual Cormorants and Sandwich Terns on the rocks by the harbour entrance. Barrie spotted a flight of Balearic Shearwaters. I managed to get a glimpse of them. I guessed there were about 10 heading north. I then spotted a Razorbill flying, then landing near us giving good views. At least 2 adult Gannets were further out. A pair of Whimbrel were around the rocky outcrops. Also seen was a single Turnstone. As we reached the estuary I spotted a flight of 3 more Razorbills. On the newly formed island was a group of Sandwich Terns and Audouin's Gulls. A Great Crested Grebe was also seen. As we headed back to the vehicles we added Sardinian Warbler and Southern Grey Shrike to the list.
     The pool opposite the Consum supermarket at Vera was a hive of activity, especially with the hirundines. We had the full set. Crag, House and Sand Martins; Barn and Red-rumped Swallows. Spring may have sprung! Also seen were Common Pochard, White-headed Duck and Little Grebe.
     54 species in all. I'd like to thank the group for welcoming and helping where necessary, the newcomers. Being such a large group, noise could be a problem. It was minimal. Thank you.

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