Morocco with Dave and Gilly

Día de Andalucía (28/02) and if you have been wondering why the silence from Dave and Gilly, below is the reason. They have been over in Morocco birding and letting Cabo de Gata have a rest, although I wouldn't mind betting that there'll be news from there before the week is out.

Please note that I have endeavoured to put the photos by the species and if there is a photo of that species, I have put (P) by its name in the list and the R for right side and L for left. And remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them - it's all a question of space!

Hi all,
Gilly & I had a wonderful trip to Morocco. Weather for the first couple of days was drizzle with low cloud & high winds, but after that it was full sun & warm. Had no problems with rebellion but did see the banks windows and ATM machines smashed once we returned to Marrakech. There was an attempted mugging on us in Marrakech, but it failed as Gilly grabbed the young man round the throat and gave him a lesson in Anglo-saxon!

On the bird front we saw 114 species. 3 lifers and one renamed lifer. We took over 350 photos. A lot of bad bird ones but some crackers which I'll attach. Again failed to see an Alpine Accentor at the Oukaimeden ski resort and failed to see a Houbara Bustard, the reason possibly being that some Saudi Arabians had been there the week before and removed 14 of the birds to be taken back to their country for sporting purposes......but I did see some tracks and some poo, but that doesn't count!! Below I'll give you our daily bird log in a bird race scenario with our daily travelling locations. The lifers will be in BLOCK capitals.

White Stork, House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Blackcap, Pallid Swift, Little Swift, Blackbird

Spotless Starling, Cattle Egret, White Wagtail, Hoopoe, Chaffinch, Common Bulbul, Stonechat, Magpie, Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Alpine Chough, Red-billed Chough, Black Redstart, Horned Lark, Raven, Crimson-winged Finch (PL), Rock Sparrow, Black Wheatear, Dipper (PR), Blue Tit, Robin, Chiffchaff, House Bunting, Sardinian Warbler

Goldfinch, Long-legged Buzzard (PL), Barn Swallow, House Martin, Barbary Partridge, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Green Sandpiper, White-crowned Wheatear (PR), Southern Grey Shrike, Thekla Lark, Spectacled Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Desert Lark, Grey Heron, Trumpeter Finch (PL), Cormorant, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Spoonbill, Yellow Wagtail, Bar-tailed Godwit, Mallard, Little Ringed Plover, Shoveler, Snipe, Ruddy Shelduck, Marsh Harrier, Blue Rock Thrush


Short-toed Eagle, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Ring Ouzel, Red-rumped Wheatear (PR), Hoopoe Lark (PL), Temminck's Lark, Lanner Falcon (PR), Lesser
Short-toed Lark, Serin, Rock Dove, Crested Lark, Moussier's Redstart, Brown-necked Raven (PL)

DAY 5 - South of ERFOUD
(PL), Short-toed Lark, Desert Sparrow, Crowned Sandgrouse (PR), Redstart, MAHGREB ( Mourning) WHEATEAR

DAY 6 - South of ERFOUD
Desert Wheatear, Desert Warbler, Laughing Dove, Moorhen

SCRUB WARBLER , Greater Flamingo, Black Stork, Little Grebe, Marbled Duck, Meadow Pipit, Sedge Warbler, Bluethroat

Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper

DAY 9 - IMLIL & Surrounds
Levaillant's Green Woodpecker, Crossbill, Greenfinch, Red-rumped Swallow


Peregrine Falcon


Best Regards,
Dave & Gilly


not enough birding...

I don't know where the time has gone since the last entry on 12 February - well, a bit of lie really as it's been frittered away on bits and pieces, often related with birding like checking the translation of a paper on Cory's Shearwaters being caught on the hooks of long-liners and translating the new English leaflet for Fuente de Piedra. Then for some reason the left knee once more tried to do its self-destructing act which loused up the next 4 or 5 days until it regained some semblance of normality. That didn't stop me looking out off the terrace and taking very slow, very gentle walks down by the river with Luna and not seeing much and I have also spent a lot of time planning the trip to Cape Hatteras en the second half of May, plus shopping and all that sort of necessary rubbish. Time just went. So, here we go .....

Friday 18 February was a trip up to Fuente de Piedra about the translation and to bend a few ears on the state of the Guadalhorce, especially the state of the wire fence after the winter storms and will protect the breeding sites of the Kentish Plovers with about the same efficacy as a wet paper bag in its current state, plus have a good bitch about the cyclists, loose dogs and generally be a miserable old git. This may or may not have results but I have taken unilateral action (remember my promise of last year?) and all we can do is wait and see if anything positive happens. However, even before starting all the griping there was my first Red-rumped Swallow of the year sitting on a fence by the centre. They are also back at the Guadalhorce bridge area for those who enjoy these splendid swallows.

That same Friday afternoon, now home and scanning the skies for swifts, a smashing male Black Redstart flew into the garden and flipped into a tree just below and which gave me just enough time to grab the little Olympus before it was off again. Then for some reason the left knee once more tried to do its self-destructing act which loused up the next 4 or 5 days until it regained some semblance of normality. That didn't stop me looking out off the terrace and taking very gentle walks down by the river with Luna and not seeing much, although a famished Hoopoe in the garden early on 20/02 and which fed with gusto made me think it was a recently arrived bird. Then on 24/02, whilst watching the Serins - the males are splendidly coloured at this time of year, don't ignore common species - something dropped through the line of sight and turned out to be a Woodchat Shrike, a very early bird, which sat in one of the trees for a minute, swooped dwon on something in the grass, glogged it down and was off.

By the evening of 24/02 I reckoned that the knee should be able to take a slow walk around the Guadalhorce the following day, along with Ron and Federico and by 0920 we were crossing the brdige while 2 Red-rumped Swallows and a goodly contingent of Barn Swallows and some House Martins were there too, but no Sand Martins although Ron had seen some up the río Fuengirola during the week.

25/02: It was a lovely morning and we were soon joined by Hannu who is down from Finland for a year's birding sabbatical. The roite was rather different to that taken normally, as I wanted to see what Paco Rivera's volunteer cleaning group had managed to get done the previous Saturday - and to them my thanks. So, first to the laguna Escondida (hidden lake) and most birds there had lived up to the name of the place. From there on to the laguna Grande where there are still hordes of Cormorants and a goodly selection of all the normal wildfowl but there the prize must go to 2 female Reed Buntings which showed well on the reed heads that grow on the little island in front of the hide and a solitary Black-winged Stilt and a Common Sandpiper showed that all is not yet lost for waders and the water levels are falling, albeit slowly.

From there we went down to the beach and walked along it towards the seawatch mirador. There were the usual masses of gulls, mostly Lesser Black-backs and Black-headed with a few Mediterranean and Yellow-legged sitting around on the sea. The 12 Common Scoters are still there but it looks like 2 of them are immature males as Ron said that he had seen them showing distinct signs of black on the head last Tuesday.

We did put up around 12 Kentish Plovers but unless there is urgent work in resurrecting the fence they are going to have a bad time. Two years ago there were some 5o pairs, last year it had fallen by 50% and if nothing is done the number will be halved yet again. And this in the site which is the provincial stronghold for this lovely little plover. However, there is a faint glimmer of hope as Estebán, he of the Land Rover truck that visitors may have seen, assures me that there are plans to replace the fence within the next two weeks in order to keepout ehibitionists and other peculiar people (ie. non birders), and that after I was told just over 10 days since that there was no cash to do so - time will tell. If it does happen I should like to think that my bitching has had some effect and shall be delighted to report it here, and if not then I shall also report it but without any delight whatsoever and a fair dose of what the Spanish call mala leche- and there's plenty available. There were at least 4 Turnstones in area of the rocks around the mirador and some 12 Sanderlings.

From the mirador we went inland, finding 5 Skylarks in the process, the most I've seen all winter I think. From the second hide (that nearer the sea) there was actually some mud in sight, not a lot but it's a start! I saw my first Redshank of the year at the ponds and a couple of Snipe were feeding there too, plus 2 more Common Sandpipers. A single Spoonbill was doing what Spoonbills do best - sleeping (a bit like my children now I come to think of it, and there was me thinking that they had been cloned from dormice) and a solitary Shelduck which spent most of its time showing us its tail end in the air as it fed in the deep water. The Little Egrets are coming into breeding plumage and the photo shows the beautiful plumaes which once made it and and its American cousin, the Snowy Egret targets for the pluames trade for fashionable hats for the ladies of high society, which in turn led to the formation of the National Audubon Society (there now, doesn't that bit of history impress you?).

The ducks were much as expected, except no Garganey after that first pair a couple of weeks since. I was rather surprised at the numbers of female still Teal around yet only a couple of males, only a couple of pairs of Gadwall and the White-headed Ducks, the males going barmy over the few females in view. The raptors included several Marsh Harriers, one a 2nd year male, the Kestrels and no moring would be complete without the Osprey which showed itself beautifully.

We ran (figuratively) into a Welsh birder, whose name I have forgotten and for which my apologies, who had seen both Subalpine Warbler and Wryneck - both of which we missed, but in spite of that and withno really rare/unusal spp. we finished the morning with a count of exactly 50 spp, which with his would have made 52.

Later in the afternoon I walked Luna down by the river and saw a pair of adult Audouin's Gulls - always nice to see, three or four loose flocks of Mediterranean Gulls of all ages heading eastwards while further out to sea two groups (5 and 3 birds respecively) of adult Gannets were ploughing their way west to the Strait if Gibraltar and thence northwards.

Stephen Daly told me that over the weekend he had heard a Nightingale singing near his garden in Barbate and yesterday (Sunday 27/02) over 15.000 Black Kites were logged coming in from Africa (in avesforum) and Birgit had rung me from near to Dos Hermanas (Sevilla) to tell me of a flock of about 100 of the same flying alongside her car!

It's all happening folks! Spring is well on the way.


11 February, La Janda

After seeing my first and rather early Pallid Swift of the year on the afternoon of 10 February and with a metcast that did not promise roaring winds for the Strait of Gibraltar but medium falling to light winds, it seemed an oppportune moment to go down to La Janda and also show it to my old friend Ron who is snow-birding it down from Yorkshire.

In fact, we were down past Tarifa by 09.00 and first went up to the sierra beyond Bolonia with the faint and unfulfilled hope of perhaps seeing a Little Swift. From there down to Tahivilla to meet up for a couple of hours with Stephen Daly of Andalucian Guides who has access to parts of La Janda that other birders do not. There were, of course, the inevitable White Storks. Here we, and especially Ron who has birded widely, were met by a quartet of species of larks - Calandra (very smart birds), Crested, Short-toed and Sky, plus Spanish and House Sparrows which included a probable hybrid male.

But the stars were undoubtedly the Cranes with, Stephen nformed us, an influx this last week of some 1.000 birds returning from Morocco to make a total of around 3.000 scattered around the place. We had some stunning views and it was notable that some of the youngsters were starting to moult their juvenile head plumage and showing shadow adult markings. It was with Stephen too that we saw a rather distant but none the less attractive male Hen Harrier. The rice fields, untouched after last autumn's harvest, were soggy and contained reasonable numbers of Snipe and there were a lot of Lapwings and both then and later during the day we were to see numbers of Green Sandpipers.

After Stephen had dropped us off back at Tahivilla, Ron and I went back to La Janda, first stopping by the canal corner, having admired this Lapwing on the way down. Indeed, some of these delightful plovers really were feeling frisky and at times the peee-wit call cut into the nearly constant 'talking' of the Cranes of which there were always several in sight.

We motored gently along the track alngside the canal which has some extremely attractive mud patches showing but saw little except Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the flashes, the occasional Grey Heron and the usual rather dopey-looking Cattle Egrets and some Little Egrets. An extra was the presence of 4 Spoonbills, all fast asleep as they usually are, but with their legs hiddne by vegetation which prevented us seeing if they wore any colour rings.

The best part of this drive was undoubtedly the presence of Purple Boghens (Swamphens too you if you want to be correct but I prefer my version, spread the word!) and one of these posed beautifully in all its glory before delicately stepping back into hiding once it realised that it was being watched.

There was a surprising number of Red-legged Partridges which had missed being blasted in to kingdom come and we also heard and saw Pheasants, both these species being bred for the well-heeled 'hunters'. What a life, reared, fed and generally looked after until you can fly, then fed again and then suddenly on day a blast if number 6 up your backside! I'm not surprised that the Red-legs scurry away when the see a human. I'm often inclined to do the same myself but for different reasons.

We went, bumped and swerved would probably be a better verbs as the tracks are not in the best of condition, up past the 'smelly farm' which apparently is really called la granja de la Media or something similar and once more something resembling a tarmacked surface. I had hoped for some raptors of interest as we had already seen Lesser Kestrels but all we saw as we stopped and started was a Common Kestrel and, much to my surprise, two corvids of interest. There are Jackdaws, which are regular there, and Ravens are usually regular too, but not today as we didn't see one (they can't have been taking their All-bran). But we did see a pair of Magpies, a species which I have never seen up there before, and a pair of Carrion Crows, this second extremely uncommon and this is only the second time that I have seen them down there, the other being a good few years since and also in late winter if the memory serves me right.

By now time was going on, we had started from Fuengirola at 0730 and I wanted to be home in Torremolinos by around 6 if possible, so we retraced the road (sic) back towards the N-340 and it was only in the final stretch that we saw raptors. There were 2 Buzzards on the pylons, one of which slunk off and the other showed very nicely, a very attractive bird, then a 'ring-tail' (female or first winter) Hen Harrier and a 2nd year male Marsh Harrier. A very pleasant way to end the day as here was nothing to be seen except a couple of Swallows - the only ones of the day - from the mirador del Estrecho just E of Tarifa.

Sum total, 49 or 50 spp. according to our calculations and a very happy Ron after a very pleasant day's birding.


9 February: Sierra María

Dave's following report is about the Arboleas Group's cold trip to the Sierra María, the photo tells all! Better them than me!

We all know the saying about mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun, but what about when the Englishmen(and women) go to a freezing mountain? Brian said the mountain was virtually clear of snow on their (the southern) side. As El Fondo's North Gate was still closed we took the risk. I should've realised what was ahead as I scraped the ice off the windscreen prior to our departure!! After a warming cuppa in María we made our way up to the chapel carpark. We managed to spot Woodlark, Linnet, Rock and Cirl Bunting on the approach. A Rock Sparrow was chirping away on top of the chapel's spire. A good start.

There was no sign of the Ring Ouzels, but we did see a Mistle Thrush and also a pair of Crossbills. As the sun hadn't reached the snowy northern slopes yet we (Mary) decided it would be a good idea to do the plains first and work our way back to the Botanical Gardens. Once we'd cleared the pine forest and hit the plain we drove into low lying mist with visbility about 100yds.

At the watering hole by the farm buildings we spotted Black Redstart, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. In a tree nearby was a flock of 33 Corn Buntings. The trip down to the hamlet produced only a couple of Crows, but on the way back I spotted something large flying that wasn't a Crow. A male Hen Harrier was seen briefly before it disappeared into the grey gloom. It's presence also put up some Calandra Larks. A Little Owl was also spotted. At the La Piza recreation area the usual crowds of Crossbills were absent and the only birds seen were Coal and Crested Tit. We heard a Green Woodpecker. The Spanish Army had set up camp a short distance away which may explain the lack of birds.

We returned to the Botanical Gardens, seeing more Cirl Buntings. A Mistle Thrush sang beautifully from the top of a pine tree. On a whim I used my phone to transmit Short-toed Treecreeper calls and sure enough we were given good views of an investigating bird. Mary thought she might've heard Nuthatch and Gold/Firecrest as well. The pathways were ice covered so we retreated back to Maria for lunch and on the way back to Velez Blanco we spotted a solitary Griffon Vulture. That completed our birding for the day. 33 species in all.

Dave & Gilly


of Garganey and Short-eared Owls, 7 Feb.

It was Federico who gave me the heads-up at at about 13.00 today, that he was at that very moment watching 5 Garganey (3 males and 2 females) on the laguna Grande down at the Guadalhorce.

So, busy stifling my envy as male Garganey are one of the prettiest of ducks in my opinion, I replanned the afternoon (actually, I had no plans but don't tell the wife and was still wondering how much the repairs to the big Olympus and the telephoto are going to be).

I saw my first Garganey down at Beacon ponds, to the north of Spurn Point, one late March afternoon around 1959-60 with late March weather, grey windy and wet and fell in love with them then and there, never mind the Rough-legged Buzzard that we had trudged miles to try and see (and did). I was down at the Guadalhorce by 17.10 and made a beeline for the laguna Grande and hit luck within 2 minutes of arriving, with 2 males and a female visible but distant on the far side of pond. Fortunately they had the decency to come reasonably closer and I managed to get some nearly decent shots with the small Olympus.

Having stayed to so long and watching and talking with a three French birders and Lupi it seemed intelligent to stay on and see if we had any luck with the Short-eared Owls and we did with two of them, as the photos - not brilliant but the light was not good and the little Olympus was hand held, but I think you get the idea. One is notably paler than the other and has less ginger in the wings, one of which looks as though it has received a dose of shot as one primary is missing and another broken.

We also saw at least 3 Marsh Harriers, a very dark Buzzard and the Osprey. Some Swallows and House Martins were around too but the final touch to the afternoon was at absolute last light, just as we reached the cars.

A Booted Eagle flew over being pursued by one of the Short-eared Owls! Stunning but it was too dark to even try a photograph. Now that's what I calla good afternoon's birding! Agreed?


31 January-6 February

There are sometimes weeks that fly by with only occasional bright bits (= birding) and often dark, somewhat expensive, interludes and this has been one of them.

This week was conspicuously dull until Thursday morning (03/02) when I met Federico down at the Guadalhorce for a bitter sweet morning's birding. I had already heard that the 1st winter Purple Heron (see photo in a previous blog) had been seen again during the previous weekend but t'was not to be. We trundled round quite happily, bemoaned the total lack of waders because of the high water levels along the course of the old river - el río viejo - before first finding 3 Skylarks which are still frequenting the area down towards the seawatch mirador before going on to the mirador itself and having 2 Barn Swallows on a low level mission past us on afterburn. We were pleased with 12 Common Scoters which are still hanging around as were at least 2 Black-necked Grebes, watched a couple of Sandwich Terns and admired a Cormorant which was showing quite advanced breeding plumage although others are still monotonously dark.

From there it was round the laguna escondida - the hidden lake - which was successfully hiding virtually everything apart from a few Pochards and 5-6 White-headed Ducks and a bored looking Coot and the plate-sized turtle. It was on the way to the laguna grande that things started to perk up as the Osprey flew over (imagine a photo here) and got another here of a Kestrel hovering (get that imagination working hard, come on, mind over matter!) and we also saw a House Martin.

At the laguna grande itself there wasn't too much either except a single Black-winged Stilt and the usual assortment of ducks and I'd taken one or two shots, seen a couple of Booted Eagles looking p*****d off with life which was how I was going to feel within seconds. I balanced the camara and telephoto on the tripod foot of the telephoto, which was my error. It did not bounce and the AF didn't work and God knows what else doesn't, but at the time of writing it it is on its way the Olympus Service Centre in Portugal and I'm wondering how much it will all cost me as a cement floor does not constitute a manufacturer's defect. And that, O Dearest and Best Beloved, is why you've got to imagine the above photos (the Teal is a previous shot).

Friday was a zero as I took the dog down to the beach near the Parador de Golf in the area known to many as mariconilandia and was rewarded with 13 Kentish Plovers. I love these little chaps as they fly and then to all intents and purposes disappear as they settle in the indentations in the sand. And when you scan with the binoculars you see one beady, little, black eye and then a ginger crown (if it's a male) and suddenly they appear to be growing out of the sand itself. And then home and wash the dog, which is when they show maximum affection by shaking all over you, even when in the shower.

Saturday morning (05/03) I awoke early and rapidly decided that going to the laguna Dulce at Campillos and thence to Fuente de Piedra was an idea not to be despised, especially after seeing the somnolent mass in bed beside me. The reason for the laguna Dulce was two fold, Hannu Koskinnen had reported seeing 2 Ferruginous Ducks and 3 male Tufteds there on Wednesday. Hoping that the Ferruginous would still be there was rather a forlorn hope, as they are (a) secretive and (b) don't stay around long, but the Tufties should still be there (said he to himself hopefully).

It was a lovely run up the road to the top at Las Pedrizas. The almond trees are in flower and the slopes beside the road in the area where it runs through the Montes de Málaga are sprinkled with pale pink, rather bonny.This waxing too damned lyrical, back to the birding. By the by, I had the old Olympus 590-UZ which at least has 26x and also accounts for the photos in this bit.

The laguna Dulce was attractive and there was plenty to see, albeit that many aquatic spp.were over the far side. Again, there were no Little Bustards to be seen but one or two Lapwings were feeling a bit frisky and the long pee-wiit calls reminded me of East Yorkshire in my distant youth.

Right by the hide a Hoopoe crossed in front of me and posed nicely and whilst watching the ducks a pair of Swallows swept in and posed nicely, preening nevously and shifting a lot. On the laguna itself there was a very fair selection of ducks, seven spp if I counted correctly: the usual Mallard (not many), a lot of Pochards, only 2 Shovelers (the remaining 700+ are at Fuente de Piedra), at least 25 White-headed Ducks, Gadwall, at least 10 Wigeon (a decidedly scarcer species than it was 20 years ago), a couple of dozen Black-necked Grebes and a few splendid Great Crested Grebes but not a Ferruginous Duck in sight. However, there were 3 male Tufted Ducks and a single female. along with them.

Thence the the final leg, a brief visit to Fuente de Piedra with a single aim only: try to find a Lesser Flamingo amidst the ever increasing masses of Greaters and you will be pleased to know that I failed dismally, basically, I think, beacuse there is quite simply too much water in the lake. There were still at least 60 Cranes in sight in the Cantarranas area but these will be off soon. I was not succesful but at least a Southern Grey Shrike crossed the road in front of me as did a Green Sandpiper. However, the bird of the day was definitely a diminutive Jack Snipe which went up from the flash near the car park while overhead there must have been at least 20 Swallows feeding in the area.


4 February, Cabo de Gata

Dave in action yet again, this time at Cabo de Gata .... tomorrow a post of my own (now won't that be a treat?).

I arrived at the first hide at Cabo de Gata at the usual time. The sun was just about to rise over the hills so I'll need to get there earlier in the future. A pair of Stonechats were getting their breakfast in the shrubs in front of me as a flock of 52 Black-tailed Godwits were getting theirs in the shallow water. I could hear the Eurasian Curlew calling, a signal that they were about to move from their overnight roosting area. Sure enough I saw 11 fly on to the grassland to the right. I noticed a small flock of large waders feeding apart from the large flock of Black-tailed Godwits. These were 9 Bar-tailed Godwits. Other waders included a Ruff and Reeve, Avocets, Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Little Stints and Redshanks. A large flock of Slender-billed Gulls were group fishing. 3 Lapwings made an appearance.

I moved to the pool next to the small desalination plant. Here I counted 4 Snipe and 2 female Teal before moving to the beach road. I saw movement on the steppes to my left so stopped to observe about 25 Golden Plovers together with another Bar-tailed Godwit feeding. A Grey Heron flew up the reserve being mobbed by some gulls as I headed to the 2nd hide. 6 Spoonbills were unusually awake and feeding on the far side. 3 Stone Curlews could be seen on the steppes soaking up the warming suns rays. A large flock of 30+ Eurasian Curlews flew past the hide to the area near the Golden Plovers. On the trudge back to the truck I observed a large flock of Serins, together with a few Linnets.

As I got to the public hide parking area there was the usual reception committee of small birds waiting on the fencing to drink from the puddles. All Greenfinch apart from a very dapper male, I assume, Trumpeter Finch. No sign of the overwintering Black-necked Grebes from the hide. Only added Lesser Black-backed Gulls to the list.

The track round the rear of the reserve had improved somewhat. Much less standing water and dry mud. Little birds were out in force soaking up the sun. Water Pipit and a Corn Bunting showed well as did a Bluethroat, Zitting Cistacola and Dartford Warbler.

49 species for the day. Expected to see the odd Swallow or Martin, but you can't have everything!


2 February, Almanzora estuary

Dave, Gilly and the Arboleas Group went to the Almanzora esturary and had a good morning-s birding, as you will see if you read on.

Having done lots of driving last week taking Gilly to and from Alicante Airport, we decided to stay local for this week's birding trip. Brian, Mary, Gilly and I headed the short distance to the Almanzora Estruary. From on top of the embankment overlooking the pool at the end of the rambla, there wasn't a lot to report.

Lots of Crag Martins. Could hear Cetti's Warbler and could see a few Chiffchaffs. On the pool itself was a solitary Coot and a Cormorant. We could see a pair of Gannets out to sea. A Blue Rock Thrush flew over.

We then made for the beach
On the beach we saw Lesser Black-backed and Audouin's Gulls and also a Grey Plover. A pair of Black-necked Grebes were fishing together with numerous Cormorants. A flight of 3 House Martins joined the Crag Martins. A pair of Sanderlings flew past and a Turnstone was spotted. A Little Egret flew by and a Shelduck was disturbed. Brian saw a Grey Wagtail and Mary spotted a Kingfisher.
Another 8 House Martins were seen as we headed to the beach closer to Villaricos Harbour. The rocks had numerous Cormorants on them together with Sandwich Tern. Another pair of Black-necked Grebes was spotted.

We then moved to the "ford" further back up the rambla. The drainage work there appears to have ended. The area on the sea side of the road was still a birding hotspot. We saw Black-winged Stilt, Common and Green Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank and a flushed Snipe. I spotted our first genuine Barn Swallow migrant of the year.

After a reviving cup of coffee in Villaricos Village, we moved along the coast towards Garrucha, stopping at the wetlands opposite the Aquapark. Here we added Little Grebe, Pochard, Shoveler and a solitary Greater Flamingo to our list. 47 species for the day so very satisfactory.