Friday 9 February 2018

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Roquetas de Mar

Wednesday 7 February

One of the longest journeys to date as seven of us from the Axarquia Bird Group met just after 9.30 near the bridge below the filthy plastic re-cycling plant at Las Norias in Almeria province.  Olly had travelled from nearby Roquetas de Mar and John and Jenny had already come up to Cabo de Gata from Salar so were within an hour of the venue,  Meanwhile, I brought Bob and Noreen Ashford, our Australian birding visitors currently staying in Los Romanes and Dutch birder Lisette who still has a week left on Caleta.  Entering the village we were greeted by Spotless Starling, Rock and Collared Dove and were soon in the presence of very many Cormorant which could be seen from the car as we approached the meeting point.  By the time I had started this blog I had already received a report on same for John so will try and combine his words with mine; many thanks John.

The small end area of water produced Mallard, Red-crested Pochard and Little Egret with scores of feeding Crag Martins overhead.  Ere long we had also added House Sparrow, Heron and both Little and Great Crested Grebes.  At this stage gulls were mainly Lesser Black-backs and, of course, there were lots of Chiffchaffs in the surrounding shrubbery.  Similarly add on Gadwall, Moorhen and Shoveler.

Slender-billed Gull Gaviota Picofina Larus genei (PHOTO: Bob Ashford)

Across the road a Kingfisher was noted as were several more of the same species before mentioned. Notable absentees were the Night Herons usually in good numbers here.  We walked down to the X-roads and on the pool on the left we saw Green Sandpipers, Little Stint, Dunlin, a single Sand Martin passed overhead, Common Magpie, Sanderlings, Snipe and yet more gulls and Crag Martins.  Access to the normal stopping areas for birding have been chained or blocked off in some way so we headed for Roquetas de Mar.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis at Roquetas de mar
Here Ollie led us to a new area around the back of the lagoons where we spotted female Marsh Harriers, Common Kestrel, Purple Swamphens, Common Coots, Avocets and Slender-billed Gulls.  He then moved us along to another area where the roads  - in places were quite flooded - here we parked up and looked over sea and spotted two Gannets.  On the pool to our rear, a sight of some 92 Golden Plovers resting and not even moving when three Spanish low flying aircraft came over - the Greater Flamingos did a slight lift-off though.
Golden Plover Chorlito Dorado Europeo Pluvialis aprricaria
Some of the 92 Golden Plover seen with Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
 Also about here we saw Dunlin, Little Stint, Redshank, Black-winged Stilts and Snipe.  A long-distant raptor sitting in a bare tree, was not ID´d before we left.  A Common Kestrel was noted on a telegraph pole devouring its newly caught prey.

Female Common Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
Onto the main entrance area of the Roquetas where we saw masses of Shovelers and Black-headed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls, Common Coots, one male White-headed Duck, Mallard, Shelduck, Auduoin´s Gull and Cormorants.  As we started off to leave the area several Pintails were spotted with a final count of almost sixty birds, not to mention the five Wigeon sen at the same place.

Male White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala

Purple Swamhen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio

At KM2  enroute to Cabo de Gata we pulled off to look for Dotterel, no luck here, but our Australian guest (Bob) did spot a Peregrine Falcon sitting in the field - possibly and answer to why no Dotterels, a small flock of Meadow Pipits were also logged here.

Resting male Peregrine Falcon Halcon Peregrino Falco peregrinus

A really good days count, if not quantity (although we managed 60 secies), we had quality and were certainly ready to book into the local hotel and recover for the following day's birding, but not before four of us had made an exploratory trip down to the lighthouse in the hope that we might see a Trumpeter Finch as had been seen by John and jenny yesterday.  We did not but we did record a first Barn Swallow of the year, Black Wheatear and a couple of Goldfinch.

Greater Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus with juveniles below

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Golden Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Song Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch,

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs  and additional information

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