18 March : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

My apologies to Dave and the rest of the group for the late posting of this. I forgot about it in the mass of e-mails that are assailing me, especially spam. A lovely shot of the male Serin, they are lovely little things - I have some hanging around the garden.
Rambla de Almanzora
   After the cold of last week up at Maria we decided we needed the warmer climes of the Rambla de Almanzora. We all met up above the old ford. The sun was out & there was little breeze. Below us in the pools opposite we saw numerous Black-winged Stilts, Mallards, a pair of Shoveler, Little Ringed Plovers, Common and Green Sandpiper and Redshank. Further up we added Little Stint, Snipe and Greenshank. Small birds included Chiffchaff, a Les-spotted Willow Warbler, an obliging male Serin giving it some from a tobacco shrub, both Water and Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail and a Great Tit. A few Barn Swallows were seen and John claimed some Red-rumped Swallows near the main road. Further up towards the defunct Desalination Plant we added Little Egret and Teal. As we walked back to the cars a Cormorant flew off.
     After a refreshing cuppa at Villaricos we headed for the beach. It being a national holiday (and Fathers Day) here in Spain there were a few motorhomes encamped on the flattened area. On the rocks were the usual Cormorants plus 10 Turnstones, a sleeping Audouin's Gull and a Sanderling. We wandered over to the estuary. It was quite weeded up allowing birds to feed upon it. These included Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper and, after some discussion, Yellow Wagtail. A Zitting Cisticola was also seen. We sauntered back along the beach towards the cars, seeing more Sanderling, Turnstone and adding Dunlin. Birding wasn't helped by a low flying microlight whining above us.
      It was then off down to the Vera pools, firstly stopping at the dual carriageway. There were hundreds of House Martins. More Shoveler and Teal were seen. Charlie spotted a raptor high up in the distance which obligingly came closer to be identified as a female Marsh Harrier. Her smashing male partner was seen quartering over the reeds. As Gilly and I were on a time schedule, we moved on to the pools opposite the Cosum supermarket. Little Grebe appeared to be beginning to nest. Grey Heron were also seen as was a Common Pochard. The adjacent pool only contained another Pochard and two Coot. However the next one, which is the end of the dual carriageway pool had numerous Shoveler resting on it and about 8 White-headed Ducks. Gilly and I then left. About an hour later, when passing Mercadona at Puerta Rey we saw a Red-rumped Swallow......never doubted you, John!

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