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.

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