17 February : Villaricos & Vera

I know it's only a fortnight since our last visit here, but that Solitary Sandpiper (andarríos solitario) is still hanging around, so it was an obvious choice to return there to try and find it. Val and I had been there last Friday and had success. Steve and I met up with Val, Rod, Les, Richard, Colin and John at the usual spot overlooking the ford. We clocked Redshank (archibebe común), Ringed Plover (chorlitejo grande), Green Sandpiper (andarríos grande), Dunlin (correlimos común), Little Stint (correlimos menudo) and Black-winged Stilt (cigüeñuela) before we drove further towards Cuevas De Almanzora to the next tarmacked crossover. There are numerous shallow pools, in which there were numerous waders feeding. Most prolific were Dunlin (correlimos común), but there were also Ruff (combatiente), Little Stint and Wood Sandpiper. There were Water Pipits (bisbita alpina) and a few Snipe (agachadiza) and a Sanderling (correlimos tridáctila) were also seen. 
Wood Sandpiper
We moved up from the crossover onto the elevated rambla side. Crag Martins (avión roquero) were flying overhead. A single Stone Curlew (alcaraván) flew off the rambla into the opposite fields. Les then spotted the Solitary Sandpiper (andarríos solitario) although not everyone saw it before it was flushed by a passing tractor! 
Little birds seen included Linnet (pardillo común), Serin (verdecillo), Chiffchaff (mosquitero común), Stonechat (tarabilla común), Black Redstart (colirrojo tizón) and Greenfinch (verderón). We carried on further up the rambla seeing more of the same. Returning to the cars I spotted a Hoopoe (abubilla). John and Richard, who were the last to arrive, also picked up Grey Wagtail (lavandera cascadeña) and our first Yellow Wagtail (lavandera boyera)of the year, plus a House Martin (avión común). 
After a refreshment break in Villaricos village, we made our way to the beach. There were fewer Cormorants (cormorán grande) on the harbour rocks than before and the Grey Heron (garza real) still sat there. Moving to the estuary, we added the usual waterbirds. A huge flock of gulls was present, mostly Black-headed (gaviota reidora), but a large number of Mediterranean Gulls (gaviota cabecinegra) as well, with some coming into breeding plumage. Amongst the Crag Martins (avión común) were some Barn Swallows (golondrina común) and a single Sand Martin (avión zapador). A Kentish Plover (chorlitejo patinegro) was seen and Les saw a Great Crested Grebe (somormujo lavanco) out to sea.
As we walked back along the beach I spotted a larger wader asleep on the rocky isthmus which turned out to be the long staying Whimbrel (zarapito trinador). Also seen were more Kentish Plovers (chorlitejo patinegro) and Colin was the first to see the Kingfisher (martín pescador) catching fish off the rocks.
We drove to the dual carriageway at Vera. Here there were numerous Coot (focha común) and Shoveler (pato cuchara) and small pockets of Teal (cerceta común) as well as a pair of Shelduck (tarro blanco). More Mediterranean Gulls (gaviota cabecinegra) were seen - it's been a good year for them in this area. An Iberian Southern Grey Shrike (alcaudón real) was spotted. Some of the group stopped at the far end by the Consum supermarket. where they saw more ducks and added a Zitting Cisticola (buitrón). 
We met up again at the beach-side pool near the Millionaires Bar with four species of gulls and Sanderlings (correlimos tridáctilo).
A brilliant day's birding. Weather was eventually kind once the chilling breeze had warmed up. The pools further up the rambla will be on our visiting list, although, Rod, who lives nearby says that area is usually dry. 63 species for the day....numbers are getting bigger!

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