Friday 20 September 2019

Las Norias & Roquetas with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 19 September

Just about up to date now with the publishing of this week's visit by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group.  Perhaps even chance for me to get some birding in if the weather holds and I get some sleep in preparation for an early morning departure on Saturday to spend the day down at Tarifa.  There may not be so many raptors but, perhaps, closer views.  We shall see.

Back to Dave's report which reflect some very good sightings and and enjoyable day had by all.  Interesting to see the number of waders and still Collared Pratincole to be seen.

Las Norias & Roquetas:  Wednesday 18th September

Richard picked me up in his newest car, a very smart Peugot Estate automatic.  I hadn't driven an automatic for twenty odd years, so trying to use the clutch was problematic!  We picked up Paul en route to the Repsol Service Station, jct 420, the other side of Roquetas.  Michael, Karen and Trevor were already there (omg!).  We were joined by Barrie and Kevin.  Having finished our coffees, we convoyed to the first causeway at Las Norias.  Immediately we heard a Cetti's Warbler.  Being secretary, I missed the first scan.  Barrie reeled off Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Cormorant and Cattle Egret.  I spotted a single Gadwall to the left by the reeds.  A Little Egret flew over, but was "trumped" by a female Sparrowhawk that passed right in front of us.  Kevin did well to spot the first, very distant, adult Night Heron on a post the far end of the lake.  Next seen was a Mallard, then Karen spotted the first Glossy Ibis of the day.  Barrie added Goldfinch and Common Sandpiper before we saw long range Black Terns.  A Kingfisher flashed low over the water left to right.  Also seen were Sand Martin, Barn Swallow and Spotless Starling.  We heard Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird and Zitting Cisticola.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved round to back of the right hand lake, just managing to park amongst the dumped rubbish. A number of Yellow Wagtails were on the road and a Hoopoe was on the rough ground.  The water was above the normal rocky beach.  I saw a Black-winged Stilt before two Glossy Ibis and numerous Mallard took to the air.  Richard meanwhile had wandered down the greenhouse side track and had seen Blackbirds and a Pied Flycatcher.

The area at the bottom end of the smaller lake was covered with discarded plastic sheeting despite new fencing having been put up, so we parked up near the dry meadow.  More Yellow Wagtails were seen plus a Crested Lark. 

A Reed Warbler gave good views.  Also seen were a White Wagtail and Greenfinch.  At the far end by the plastic recycling factory fence I spotted a Western Swamphen.

We stopped for coffee en route to Roquetas wetlands.  We started at the far end.  Crossing the causeway, Paul spotted a Western Swamphen by the reeds to the right.  Barrie meanwhile had checked out the small muddy islands to the left and had picked out Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Redshank and amazingly about 8 Collared Pratincoles.  Also seen were Avocet, Greater Flamingo, Dunlin, Kentish Plover and Black-tailed Godwit.  A walk by the reeds proved fruitless with views being obscured. 

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving further down the wetlands, seeing an Iberian Grey Shrike on the way, our next stop proved a gull fest!  Hundreds of Lesser Black-backs, a few Black-headeds, one Audouin's and some Yellow-Legs.  Barrie spotted a distant Marsh Harrier.

We travelled round to the large lake by the hotels.  Loads of Coot plus Common and Red-crested Pochard.  Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebe.  We had good views of patrolling Black & Common Terns.  Passing Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and Sand Martins were noted.  I also found some White-headed Duck in the melee.

Female Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then adjourned for lunch, parking Richard's car correctly.  After lunch we returned to find a delivery vehicle had caused a scrape and small dent to it.  Thankfully the bar owner had photo'd the van & it's registration plate. 

Despite that, we had a great day in good company, seeing 56 species. There appeared to be no damage from the recent rains.  Also had good views of the many dragonflies!
Regards, Dave
A sort of "Name that dragonfly?" (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Sorry to read about the parking incident but at least you got some evidence of the culprit.  I stopped on the way down to Tarifa on the last Friday of August and came out to discover that a vehicle had run into the back of my car causing a massive dent on the bumper.  No message on windscreen, no witnesses, nothing.  Car was repaired and painted whilst I was away in Georgia but I had to pay the 150 Euros excess and it will be reflected on my insurance renewal next month.  I expect we both used or thought the same words!

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

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