18 March : Río de Almanzora & Vera

From Dave, who is making the most of Gilly being away in the UK, and the Arboleas Group and entered whilst I get outside the first coffee of this Thursday morning after more welcome rain here andf the current radar image at 07.30 showing an awful lot of clag down in the Strait area and rain forecast for here this afternoon.
On Monday, whilst I was swanning round El Fondo, Alan made a visit to the Rambla de Almanzora. He hit the jackpot in the form of a Spotted Crake. With Gilly still in England, I'd already arranged to make our Wednesday trip to the rambla, but the weather forecast wasn't that good. It had rained overnight, but by the time I got there, early to check for the crake, there was a very slight fine drizzle which was was not a problem. Looking at Alan's photographic evidence, I guessed ( correctly) that he'd seen it on the pool by the road crossing. 
I checked the area, seeing Little Ringed Plover, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and, yes, a Chiffchaff! Val then arrived early. I was happy to point out to her her first Temminck's Stints. We also saw a Snipe, Black Redstart and Water Pipit
Shortly after Alan arrived we moved over to the usual meeting place where we met up with another 5 members. On the walk towards the sewage treatment area we added Little Egret, Green Sandpiper, Hoopoe, Sardinian Warbler and a Little Stint. Alan was the first to spot a pair of Stone Curlews flying off the rambla into the fields beyond. We heard a Cetti's Warbler but didn't see anything new before turning round. I received a lengthy phone call, hence I was walking alone when a male Black-eared Wheatear flew across in front of me. We made our way back to the "crake" area, but only added a Redshank to the list.
Suitably refreshed from a cup of coffee in Villaricos village we headed for the beach. The breaking waves were even higher than our previous visit. A Kentish Plover greeted us from the shoreline.  Alan spotted about 5 adult Gannets out to sea. We made our way to the estuary, carefully avoiding the mud. The place was alive with hirundines. Over 100+ Barn Swallows together with numerous Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins and the odd Crag Martin. Also seen was a Swift, probably a Pallid. The water level was up from before and there not so many Cormorants. We did see Grey Heron and Coot.
 On the beach I spotted some sitting Audouin's Gulls and a passing Lesser Black-backed Gull. We walked to the beach, our usual route blocked by a huge puddle. Alan spotted a pair of Avocets, unusual here. Val spotted the Slender-billed Gulls. The Whimbrel was still around and it eventually joined the Kentish Plovers, Turnstones and a one legged Sanderling on the beach by the vehicles. 
We then made our way to the Vera dual carriageway overlooking the shallow pools. The Greater Flamingos had departed as had many of the birds. We saw Shoveler, Teal, Black-winged Stilts, but only added Gadwall to the day list. At the Consum pools we had to tread very carefully to avoid claggy mud under foot. We added Common Pochard, White-headed Duck and a Little Grebe.
48 species in total. A good days birding. Many thanks to Val and Tony Penny for supplying us with a post birding lunch. We send our best wishes to Marian, John's wife, who fell and broke her arm earlier this week.

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