6 January : Rambla de Almanzora & Vera

Happy Birding New Year!! 
(is there any other sort?)
adult Audouin's Gull
As it was Three Kings Day (Los Reyes Magos), the Spanish version of Christmas Day, we hadn't arranged an official group day out, but when Alan and John began to mention they'd like to go somewhere, we decided to brave the high winds and hit the Rambla de Almanzora. Before meeting at the "ford", Gilly and I checked out the pools on the far side of the rambla. We only saw Moorhen, Mallard and Black Redstart, but Alan and John following suit some minutes after us also had Snipe and Meadow Pipit. As we walked up the path above the rambla, the birds were obviously sheltering from the cold north easterly winds. We managed to see Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Serin and Spotless Starling. As we reached the sewage works, Alan spotted a Common Sandpiper on the edge of one of the pools and a Green Sandpiper was flushed from a pool below us. A Black-winged Stilt was also seen and a Grey Wagtail was beside the large pool. We added Robin, Greenfinch, Magpie and Cetti's Warbler as we headed back. A check of the ford pool only revealed numerous Mallard and Moorhen. Gilly flushed a Snipe
adult winter Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls
Apart from the usual crow scarers banging off, one of the local farmers was using a tape loop of birds in distress. Sounded like a cross between a Curlew and Gull being strangled. Just what you want to hear whilst birding!
After a refreshing cuppa in Villaricos village, we made our way to the beach. On the rocks outside the harbour were Black-headed, Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls. John spotted a Grey Heron hiding behind a steel pole. There were a couple of Cormorants and a pair of Sandwich Terns. On a closer rock I spotted a Turnstone. I also saw an immature Gannet out to sea. 
Grey Plover
We made our way to the estuary. Over 60 Crag Martins were flying around. Apart from the usual Coot, Cormorant and Black-headed Gulls there were also Audouin's Gulls, Grey Heron and a pair of Shovelers which John spotted. Out nearer the beach there were a couple of immature Greater Flamingos and numerous little waders. Little Stint, Dunlin, Sanderling, Kentish and a single Little Ringed Plover. Also seen was a Little Egret and a few Mediterranean Gulls. Walking back along the beach we saw more Dunlin and Sanderling plus a Grey Plover.
We did a quick check at the Consum dual carriageway in Vera Playa. There was mostly wildfowl there. Small groups of Teal and Gadwall, but hundreds of Shovelers
From there we went to the "Millionaires" pool. Head towards the Buganvillas roundabout and turn left just before you get there. Follow the road down towards the beach and the pool is on your left. We had very good views of Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls plus a very obliging Sanderling posing nearby. We added Little Grebe to the list.
Here we separated. Gilly and I went for lunch whilst Alan and John stopped off at the Rio Agua at Mojacar on their way home. They were rewarded with views of a Purple Swamphen and chicks!
Including the latter, we clocked up 46 species. Not bad considering the wind!

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