3 December : Río de Almanzora & Vera

I'm back, Dave's back. Life returns to normal. Or as Caesar (Julius, Roman dictator) wrote in his Gallic Wars which the latin master tried to beat into me and all I can remember is 'et siderae in cursu erant' (and the stars were in their courses). I don't know whether to be pleased or commiserate with his problems.

After six tiring weeks in the (dis)United Kingdom, Gilly and I were glad to be birdwatching again amongst friends at on our local patch, the Rambla de Almanzora. 17 of the group met up at the "ford" above the rambla. Was glad to have Ros Perkins, who'd been absent for about a year, and Richard and Maria Darby back with us today. The rambla was quite overgrown but there were some good views of the wet areas. First bird on the list was the first of numerous Black Redstarts. Second was a Hoopoe. Down in the shallow water we added Little Egret, Mallard, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Moorhen. Kev Borman spotted a Snipe. Also seen were Yellow Wagtail, Spotless Starling and very many Chiffchaffs....yes, each one checked that it wasn't a Yellow-browed Warbler!!
We then wandered further up towards the sewage works. A Cetti's Warbler was heard. A Robin and Redshank addded to the list. At the sewage works pool a Green Sandpiper together with a pair of Little Ringed Plovers were observed. On the lower main pool there were Black-winged Stilts and a solitary Common Pochard. I spotted a distant Northern Starling high up on the power lines.
As we walked back towards the vehicles I saw a pair of Grey Wagtails having a right set to amongst the shrubs. John suggested that before we went for a coffee that it was good to cross over to the other side of the rambla as you got better views above the pools. We added a Water Pipit to the list and yes, the views were much better.
After a cuppa in Villaricos village we headed for the beach. What little tide the Mediterranean Sea has was definitely in! Not seen it so high. Some of the usual rocks outside the harbour were submerged. There were no rock formations to be seen further along the beach. We did see Cormorant and a Grey Heron at rest. A Sandwich Tern was the other side of the harbour. Far out to sea a few Gannets were seen. Unusually for this time of the year there were no grebes, mergansers or Razorbills to be seen on the near flat sea. Kev spotted a Kingfisher. A walk to the estuary added Coot to the list. There were numerous of them plus Mallard and 26 Cormorants there too. A Sardinian Warbler was seen. As we walked through the tamerisk and shrub tobacco plants Alan spotted an overwintering Wryneck perched on the highest shrub around. Unfortunately it was gone in a flash so missed by this author and most of the group! On the beach we saw Kentish Plover, Black-headed, Audouin's and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. John saw a Turnstone as well.
It was then off to Vera, stopping on the dual carriageway above the very shallow stretches of water. The normal Black-winged Stilts were there. John and/or Alan spotted a Ruff and a Teal. Also seen was a Southern Grey Shrike. Moving round to the pools opposite the Consum supermarket we were greatly assisted by a Marsh Harrier which put all the birds up into the sky, our view being hindered by high vegetation. There were 50-100 Shovelers and a couple of immature Greater Flamingo. I walked down to the pool near the dual carriageway. I added a couple of Yellow Legged Gulls to the list. Also seen was another Ruff and some Teal. Gilly stayed at the Consum pool and managed to get a retricted view. She saw Black-necked Grebe, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck and Gadwall.
In all we saw a creditable 53 species. The weather was perfect as was the company.
After months of nagging from Microsoft regarding my Windows XP being unsupported, I changed to Windows 7. Ok, but at the moment it doesn't recognise my cameras hence no photos on this report. Apologies.

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