18 February : Rambla de Almanzora and Vera

Hell's teeth, Dave. Is it really five years years since you frightened the living daylights of Gilly and the rest of us? Tempus fugit and all that classical rubbish, all you've done is make us feel older. The weather really has been vile and I think that we'll still get some more. In Huelva they've been having lots of gulls and one lucky observer saw 10 species the other afternoon, including a Franklin's, while there is still one 1st year Lesser Spotted Eagle being seen irregularly around the north end of La Janda.I have been seeing a few flocks of up to 100 Mediterranean Gulls heading eastwards during these strong winds which blow them onshore. This week no less than 8 Lesser Flamingos were seen together at Veta la Palma (Sevilla) but as Fuente de Piedra is drying up (I hope to get uop there this coming week and shall report) they could turn up anywhere, so eyes open!
I have a post to do on the visit last week to the Charca de Suarez with Bob Wright and shall get it put on line after this, mostly photos as you can read it all in the link to Bob's site.
It was five years to the day that I miraculously survived my triple heart attack so I was determined to celebrate by going out birding. I could have chosen a better day weather-wise though! It was forecast cloudy with light rain. As Gilly and I drove down to the Rambla de Almanzora it showered on us. We met up with two other serious(ly stupid) birdwatchers, Richard and John, who also had seen the weather forecast and decided to brave the elements! John, who had crossed from the opposite of the Rambla reported seeing Green Sandpiper, Mallard, Moorhen and a Water Pipit. We waited in the vehicles for another shower to pass before venturing towards the sewage works. Yellow-legged Gulls were struggling in the windy conditions above us as did a Grey Heron. We heard a Cetti's Warbler and the lack of Chiffchaffs was noted. More Green Sandpipers were seen and also a Common Sand. Gilly and Richard saw a large flock of Goldfinches, whilst John and I saw a pair of Barn Swallows. We headed back and added some Teal, a Magpie and a Hoopoe. We made our way over to the pool on the far side. Here we observed a Grey Wagtail, Ringed Plover and a Dunlin and I spotted the overwintering Bluethroat
After a very refreshing cup of coffee in Villaricos village we headed for the beach. The sea was very rough so there was no chance of birds being on the harbour rocks. Sheltering from the conditions on the ploughed flat area behind us was a flock of 27 Audouin's Gulls. We trudged over to the estuary where a large number of Cormorants were together with Coot and Grey Heron. John spotted a Little Grebe. Amongst the numerous Crag Martins I spotted a pale rumped bird - our first Red-rumped Swallow of the year! Also seen was a Sandwich Tern, a Little Egret and a couple of Chiffchaffs
Further towards the sea we saw a mixed group of Sandwich Terns, Audouin's and Black-headed Gulls. Struggling in the choppy waters was a single, pink, Slender-billed Gull. John spotted a Turnstone. Gilly and I tacked on way back along the beach against the wind, followed by John and Richard. We saw another Turnstone and an obliging Grey Plover.
We then headed to the Vera dual carriageway. On the mudflat we saw a Ruff and another Ringed Plover. Numerous Teal were tucked up under the shrubs. Further down in the shallow waters we saw a pair of Shelduck, four Gadwall and the three juvenile Greater Flamingos, now joined by an adult. At the Consum supermarket pool I saw White-headed Duck and some Common Pochard. My arrival put up all the Black-headed Gulls and a large flock of Shovelers. John informed me later that I'd missed the House Martins.....begger!!
With the arrival of more hirundines I hope this means spring is just round the corner! We ended up with 46 species, very good considering the appalling weather!

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