14 April : Almanzora and Vera

My birding has been rather restricted but since the last input from Dave,I have had a few migrants in the garden, the best day being the 10 April with a female Subalpine Warbler, a Willow Warbler (the only one so far this spring) and a Nightingale singing down across the road to celebrate having reached Europe. The garden's attraction for birds has been reduced somewhat as the gardener's attitude to gardening would have made him an ideal proponent of Stalin's scorched earth policy after the Nazi invasion. Nevertheless, a Woodchat Shrike and Phylloscopus sp. turned up on the following day, with the same or another Woodchat on 12 April stayed around most of the day and there was also a notable overhead movement of Bee-eaters. A delightful pair of Red-rumped Swallows hung around the garden over three days, 14-16 April. Further afield,  there was a dead female European Nightjar on the road in an urbanization near Chilches on 16 April, while on the shore there there were 12 Sanderlings, all in breeding plumage on 17 April, along with a single Ringed Plover.
Was on an airport run yesterday, hence this week we're a day late! Summer appears to have arrived. The weather was hot and sunny. Gilly was working, so I picked Steve up in Arboleas & headed for the Rambla de Almanzora. We drove up the Palomares side, but saw not alot. John was ahead of us. Once we'd stopped behind him, he walked back and asked if we'd heard the Nightingale. Note to self.....turn off the CD even if it was Pink Floyd! By the ford we had the usual Moorhen and Black -winged Stilt. As we waited for the others to arrive we saw a pair of Stone Curlews, some Bee-eaters and Red-rumped Swallows. Another nine members arrived before we made our way to the new good spot further up the valley. On the way I spotted another Bee-eater on the power lines and a sitting Roller.
Les had got to the crossover first and had seen Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and Little Stint. Our arrival flushed them further along the pools. We added Redshank, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover. Moving up onto the bank Les spotted a Common Sandpiper and I a Sand Martin. A pair of Wood Sandpipers showed well. We moved further along and found the seven Curlew Sandpipers, some in breeding plumage. A Greenshank flew in and we had good views of Iberian Yellow Wagtails. Ann spotted another perched Bee-eaterI then spotted a single flying Red-billed Chough. As I tried to get a photo I was twisting, focusing and slipping. Am amazed by the result! Another Roller was seen. Before we moved on Les saw a distant Shoveler. A Woodchat Shrike was also spotted. On the way to Villaricos village we added a Black Wheatear.
After a refreshing cuppa we headed for the beach. Another Woodchat Shrike was on the wires. On the harbour rocks were two Audouin's Gulls. Colin saw a Cormorant and John spotted some Sanderlings while Sandra saw a Little Egret. Also seen was a Turnstone. The hoards of holidaymakers had not yet arrived.
Walking over to the estuary we disturbed some Kentish Plovers on the flat area. It was good to see two pairs of White-headed Ducks there together with some half dozen Common Pochards. We heard Reed Warblers and Zitting Cisticolas, seeing some of the latter later. There were 7 Greater Flamingos by the beach. They were disturbed by some dog walkers and appeared to swim away. It was noted how much they looked like Mute Swans from a distance! Also seen were Barn Swallow, House Martin, Common Swift, Little Grebe, Goldfinch and Serin. A Sardinian Warbler was heard. Jacky and her group saw a Squacco Heron which kindly showed itself to the rest of the group later on. More Cormorants and a Grey Heron was seen. By the shallows we had Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Dunlin, Sanderling and Little Stint. On the way back to the vehicles along the beach the "resident" Whimbrel was circling near its rocky feeding area as a local was searching for whelks or crabs.
Saying our goodbyes to Val, Trevor and Ann the rest of us made our way to the Consum dual carriageway at Vera Beach. On the way Les saw a Blackbird. A female Black-eared Wheatear flew across in front of my truck which was nice. Loads of Black-winged Stilts here, but better was the half dozen or so Whiskered Terns. I then spotted a distant Shelduck resting on the far side. I then noticed a Gull-billed Tern with some Black-headed Gulls. As we left I saw a Southern Grey Shrike perched atop a shrub high on the hill side. Jacky, Steve, John and I visited the pool by the Millionaires Bar, hoping for a Med Gull, but only saw immature Black-headed Gulls and an Audouin's.
It was a brilliant mornings birding with 59 species notched up. Thanks all.

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