7 January 2015 : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

Well, that's it. 2015 is here. All the celebrations are over and, one hopes, the hangovers. At least Dave, Gilly and the brave members of the Arboleas Group appear to have recovered as at least they ventured out. So here we go with their first report of the year. Chiffchaff numbers here have fallen too, but there are still goodly numbers by normal standards and there were 3 in the pine tree in my garden just before I started putting this together.
It was somewhat chilly as Gilly and I were waiting the arrival of the other group members above the rambla just outside Villaricos for our first trip of the year. John was the first to arrive, having already spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper from the opposite embankment. The others soon arrived so we commenced birding in earnest. There wasn't that much water around, but enough for some Mallard and Black-winged Stilts. We added Stonechat, Black Redstart, Robin, Serin and Goldfinch. There were not so many Chiffchaff about than before Christmas. We headed up towards the sewage works. On the first pool we saw a pair of  Little Ringed Plovers and a Water Pipit.Astonishingly there was nothing on the second larger pool. We made our way back towards the cars, adding Grey Wagtail, Thekla Lark and a Grey Heron. We walked over the rambla to observe the pools there more closely. We were rewarded when I spotted a Bluethroat which showed well but too distant for a good photo. Also seen were Little Stint, a stunning male Teal and Gilly spotted a Snipe. As we walked back to the vehicles a Cormorant flew over.
After a warming coffee in the village we made our way down to the beach. There were many cormorants on the harbour rocks as well as a Grey Heron. Carolyn spotted another on the rocks to the right. A Black-necked Grebe was fishing close to shore. We carried on round to the estuary where we could see maybe another 100 Cormorants. As we got there a Great White Egret flew off. On the beach spit a line of gulls proved to be Yellow-legged, Black-headed and a few Audouin's. Beyond them out to sea we saw a Great Crested Grebe and a small raft of Black-necks. Still no sign of any Mergansers or Razorbill. Colin spotted a Southern Grey Shrike. A Kingfisher flew low over the water to everyone's delight. n the beach we added Ringed and Kentish Plover and Dunlin. On the rocky point I spotted a Whimbrel together with a Little Egret. A Cattle Egret flew over as we were departing in the cars.
We convoyed to the dual carriageway behind Vera beach. There were numerous Crag Martins flying over the shallow pools. A group of small waders proved to be Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Little Stint. Richard spotted a Marsh Harrier over the reeds on the far side. There were 4 Greater Flamingos and some Shovelers down the far end. Lots of Teal were also seen. Les had done a really good job clearing a viewpoint in the reeds overlooking the pool opposite the Consum supermarket. There we only added Little Grebe, but others ventured to the other pools seeing White-headed Duck and Avocet
A very good days birding. 50 species seen. Hopefully a good omen for the year!

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