06 May : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

Dave & Co. Unlimited have been out to one of their favourite spots. I´m fed up to the back teeth with Monk Parakeets (cotorra monje), we could sell 'em back to South America and make a firtune if they ever run short! I have had both Pied and Spotted Flycatcher (papamoscas cerrojillo y gris) in the garden here two days running, nice! Also, a pair of Mallards have taken up residence in the swimming pool and are often watched hungrily by two or three cats, none of which are from here.
Summer has eventually arrived here in south-east Spain. We headed for the Rambla de Almanzora, Villaricos.  Gilly and I met up with eight other members including returning holiday birders, Barrie and Beryl Puttock. Good to see them again. Prior to our arrival Les had seen, amongst others, Lesser Black-backed Gull  (gaviota sombría) and Black-winged Stilt (cigüeñuela). 
From our viewpoint we could only glimpse at the pools on the far side due to the ever increasing foliage. A pair of Yellow-legged Gulls (gaviota patiamarilla)sat upon a pylon. Disturbed Mallard (azulón) flew up and down. Above and below us we saw House Martins (avión común), Barn and Red-rumped Swallows  (golondrinas comunes y dauricas)and Common and Pallid Swifts (vencejos comunes y pálidos). In the vegetation and reeds we saw Sardinian Warbler (curruca cabecinegra), Zitting Cisticola (buitrón) and Serin (verdecillo) and heard Reed Warbler (carricero común).
Little Ringed Plover (chorlitejo chico)
At the sewage works we added a Common Sandpiper (andarríos chico) and a pair of Little Ringed Plover (chorlitejo chico). By the side of the large pool a flock of 12 Common Sandpipers (andarríos chicos) flew in. Another Little Ringed Plover (chorlitejo chico) showed well amongst the boulders in the rambla. Bee-eaters (abejarucos) were also seen. As we walked back I was first to see a Spotted Flycatcher (papamoscas gris) which also posed well. We walked down to the pool by the ford. There was a pair of Black-winged Stilts (cigüeñuelas) and yet another Common Sandpiper (andarrios chico).
Spotted Flycatcher (papamoscas gris)
After a reviving cup of coffee ( I won't mention Jacky's enormous frappé!) we made our way to the beach. There was no bird life on the harbour rocks, due presumably by the presence of swimmers and sunbathers. A Turnstone (vuelvepiedra) flew by low over the sea. We made our way to the estuary. No Cormorants (cormorán grande) now. Coot (focha común), Moorhen (gallineta común) and a solitary Audouin's Gull (gaviota de Audouin). A Grey Heron (garza real) was on one of the islands. 
Squacco Heron (garcilla cangrejera)
Les and I both identified a Squacco Heron (garcilla cangrejera) as it disappeared out of view further up. It eventually did a flypast as it headed to the beach. We made our way there ourselves adding Kentish and Ringed Plover (chorlitejos patinegro y grande) in the shallows. A group of Sanderling (correlimos tridáctila) were seen with difficulty as their heads popped up occasionally above a low ridge. Heading back towards the vehicles I spotted the Squacco (garcilla cangrejera) fishing successfully on the rocks together with a pair of Turnstone (vuelvepiedra) . I was surprised the the overwintering Whimbrel (zarapito trinador) was still here.
Monk Parakeet (cotorra monje)

We then convoyed to the dual carriageway overlooking the shallow pools near Vera beach. There was one Greater Flamingo (flamenco común) present. Apparently some others were put to flight by a low flying helicopter yesterday. We added Common Pochard (porrón europeo), White-headed Duck (malvasía cabeciblanca) and Shoveler (pato cuchara). Further down near the main road we could see Avocet (avoceta) and one or two Whiskered Tern (fumarel cariblanco). As Gilly and I were time constrained we didn't stop at the far end of the pool as Colin, Sandra and Les had done. We would have been rewarded with views of Ruff (combatiente), Spotted Redshank (archibebe oscuro), Dunlin (correlimos común) and Little Stint (correlimos menudo). 
We stopped opposite the Consum supermarket. One end of the pool added some Little Grebes. At the other end a bird was making an extraordinary noise. I managed to follow a very narrow, midge-filled track through the reeds and there, not 4 metres away was a Monk Parakeet (cotorra monje). It must've been blind and deaf as most of us managed to struggle through that jungle to get a view of it...and it just sat there!
We ended up with a respectable 50 species. With the arrival of beach fulls of sun and sea worshippers I suspect our birding may be limited in the next few months down there at Villaricos. No report next week as I'm heading back to the Fuente de Piedra and Extremadura with a couple of mates.


02 May: Fuente de Piedra

This will be a short blog about the trip to Fuente de Piedra yesterday, 02 May, in company of Chris Feare on a brief visit between his home in the UK and before going back to the Seychelles to contunue his 40 year research programme on the Sooty Terns there. With us was Federico Valles and we had a rewarding morning, even though there were not the numbers of birds present that I was fortunate enough to see exactly a week before.
Whilst we had coffee, Chris also gave some information on saving the Seychelles Magpie-Robin (Shama de Seychelles), of which the population was down to only 12 individuals but a removal programme of the introduced mynahs took their population down to zero, the population is now in the 300 range with no signs of endogamia.
As you may have noticed, there is also a slight addition to this blog in that following a suggestion from Federico, and knowing that some of the readers are Spanish, from now on I shall now insert the names in Spanish using a different colour. Thus, House Sparrow will have added behind it (gorrión común) in the colour shown here. If you are a Spanish reader of the blog, I would be grateful to hear if you like the idea or not.
There were much fewer waders and even though I did not do much accurate counting, largely because of talking a lot!, the approximate/guesstimated numbers are given after each species and for some there is not even that. Neither are there any photos as the only ones taken were of a disappearing Glossy Ibis (morito) which we later saw feeding and revealed itself to be a 1st summer bird as there was very little gloss! This was bird of the day for Chris and a new species as he has always managed to miss them previously! The other photo was of the rear end of a water vole (not rat as some name them, largely started by the naming of Ratty in 'Wind in the Willows').
In fact, we saw only 10 species of waders, including the omnipresent Avocets (avoceta) and Black-winged Stilts (cigüeñuela). There were some 30 Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo grandes), many which will undoubtedly finish their journey inside the Arctic Circle, as will some of the 10+ Little Stints (correlimos menudo) which were in gorgeous breeding plumage, Dunlin (correlimos común) and Curlew Sandpipers (correlimos zarapitin). After starting off seeing one handsome Wood Sandpiper (andarríos bastardo), life was suddenly enlivened by the arrival of a flock of 9, all in breeding plumage and there were a few Common Sandpipers (andarríos chico) teetering around. There were still 5+ Redshanks (archibebe común) and a few Little Ringed Plovers (chorlitejo chico). From the board walk we also saw a single Squacco Heron (garcilla cangrerjera) and also, apart from enjoying conversation with two Swedish birders, some raptors.
There were at least 4 Kestrels (cernicalos), we think Lessers (primillas) but shadow was deep and they were rather distant. More interestingly, a first very distant flock of ca.10 big raptors over the distant Sierra de Yeguas (the one with the windmills) was, with the exception of one slightly smaller bird which we did not manage to identify satisfactorily, composed of Honey Buzzards (abejero europeo) and we were to see more birds moving along there for a total of 41+ of this species.  Rather nearer were the two Black Kites (milano negro) which swung across more or less in front of the information centre, offeruing excellent views.
Out on the rapidly drying up lake there are still an awful lot of Greater Flamingos (flamenco rosa) and we located two Lessers (flamenco enano).  Theare, in fact, 3 pairs of Lesser Flamingos in the colony, plus another two which were probably the ones which we saw. A slow but upward growth line! There was also a pair of Shelduck (tarro blanco).
So to the end of the morning with the noise of a Great Reed Warbler (carricero tordal) still ringing inside the brain, its so-called song tempered by the rather sweeter song of a Nightingale (ruiseñor común) and the continual movement of Gull-billed Terns (pagaza piconegra) it was time to be off.