23 March : Almanzora and Vera

Dave and Gilly are back after their fruitful trip to Morocco and I shall publish Dave's long (3 part with photos) in a day or three. The Solitary Sandpiper remains in residence and has been amply twitched and there is also a Franklin's Gull at La Caleta de Vélez (MA) which I may try and see today. A lot of the action is further west but Quirri is seeing a lot along the río Vélez area. Swifts of both spp. are arriving in small numbers and I have seen the first few screaming parties in Torremolinos on Tuesday pm. but none since, and heard one or two overflying flocks of Bee-eaters.

MESSAGE FOR ROGER MORRIS: Apologies for not replying, but I forget to check comments. Please write to me at andy.birds(at) gmail.com and I shall forward your request to Dave.
Water Pipit
After an amazing trip to Morocco, it was back to our local patch for Gilly and I, the Rambla de Almanzora. Having picked up Steve, we made our way to the ford . There we had good views of Snipe, Redshank, Moorhen and a Common Sandpiper before parking up awaiting the rest of the gang. Just as the first arrived, Barrie, a Marsh Harrier flew by. Once Kevin, Val, Richard, Trevor, Ann and new members, Roger and daughter, Louise had arrived we convoyed further up the rambla to where the Solitary Sandpiper had been seen. It must have been a bit of a shock to the two birders there as numerous cars parked up and deposited the crowd of us. I apologise. The Solitary Sandpiper was nearby in the first pool, showing well but a rear view. When it turned its head, the white eye ring was clearly seen. It then flew further to the left out of view. 
Having been joined by Jacky, Gilly spotted another wader. It was one of two Temminck's Stints, their yellow legs showing well. A flight of seven Ruff then flew in. Also seen were Wood Sandpiper and Water Pipit. Despite the wind we walked along the top of the Rambla seeing Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Little Ringed Plover, a Kestrel and both Grey and Yellow Wagtails. Barn Swallows, Sand and House Martins were added to the list.
After a refreshing cuppa in Villaricos village we made our way to the beach. There was only a Yellow-legged Gull and a couple of Cormorants on the harbour entrance rocks. We walked over to the estuary where the water level was, or appeared to be, higher than sea level. A gravel bank separated the two. I spotted a pair of Common Pochard and Barrie had a Little Grebe. There was only a few Cormorants and a small raft of Black-headed Gulls. I found a flying Mediterranean Gull and a distant Sandwich Tern fishing over the sea. A Grey Heron was found lurking in the reeds.
 A Black Redstart flew by. Closer to the beach we found a number of Black-winged Stilts and a small array of little waders: Little Stint, Dunlin, Sanderling and Kentish Plover. There was no sign of the long staying Whimbrel, but we did see a Little Egret on the rocks.
Some of us then moved to the dual carriageway overlooking the large pools opposite the Consum supermarket at Vera. There were loads of Black-winged Stilts and about four Greater Flamingos. I spotted some Teal, whilst Gilly found a female Red-crested Pochard and we also added an Avocet.
We all split up then. Barrie, after lunch, checked out the pool by the Millionaire's bar. Had good views of gulls: Yellow-legged, Audouin's, Black-headed, Lesser Black-Backed and Mediterranean.
All together we ended up with 53 species for the day.

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