Tuesday 14 September
Away early so that I could call in a the apartments on the way and once under way again, twenty minutes later a drop down from the motorway to visit La Chuca and drive along the front to Calahonda. No sooner arrived than I found three Shags resting on a rock below the cliff and then added House Sparrow and many Collared Doves before starting the driving along the sea front. Within minutes I was seeing many House Martins and Barn Swallows plus a few Red-rumped Swallows. Also added Blackbird, Spotless Starling, Rock Doves and Yellow-legged Gull before re-taking the A7 motorway eastwards toward Almeria.
Arriving at Las Norias and heading for the first road crossing I was surprised to find nothing but Great Crested Grebes on the water, there must have been a score or more. However, a little searching soon produced a departing Heron plus another couple at the far western end along with a trio of Red-crested Pochard. A Cormorant flew over the water but not half as exciting as the Osprey that passed low over the road - and with the camera still in the car! I did eventually find a couple of Mallard but the main activity was above me. Scores of hirundines, mainly Sand and House Martin along with Barn Swallows but also the occasional Red-rumped Swallow and even a few Crag Martin. Naturally, there were also local House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings to be seen. A number of Grey Wagtails and handful of Iberian Yellow Wagtails were also feeding on the cleared ground next to the pumping station.
|Juvenile Iberian Yellow Wagtail?
On to the eastern crossing to park by the bridge and yet more Great Crested Grebe. Walking past the farm opposite the plastic factory a load of tomatoes had been dumped and not only providing food for a good number of Cattle Egret but also the lone pig that, having had its fill, though a roll around the pile would help its complexion! A little further on first a Chiffchaff and then a very obliging Spotted Flycatcher accompanied by a noisy Cetti's Warbler. Returning towards the tomato heap the Cattle Egrets had been joined by both Grey and White Wagtails along with a single Hoopoe. Above them, very many Collared Doves in the bare trees. The far end of the water produced seven Glossy Ibis, more Cattle and a single Little Egret. On the small end pool both a Little Grebe and a single Coot.
So, following a coffee stop, on to Roquetas de Mar with the first stop at the far end of the road below San Augustin, where there was still water in the inland pool, passing a pair of Kestrels on the wires as I approached the tight right-hand bend where I carried straight on along the wide track. On the water itself, lovely to find a single Flamingo, a handful of Cattle Egrets plus Black-winged Stilts, a few Sanderling, a lone Slender-billed Gill and a Turnstone. A trio of Glossy Ibis also dropped in before I made my way back to the main road.
Next a stop at the entrance to the lighthouse track, parked the car and walked the short way to the crossing. A few Flamingo in the distance but in front of me the first of many Ringed Plovers. Lots of waders on the other, left-hand, side pf the track; mainly Dunlin but also Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover and Curlew Sandpiper along with Sanderling, a Black-tailed Godwit, a number of Avocet and a few Black-winged Stilts. A good number of Slender-billed Gulls also present at this point and Barn Swallows overhead. Looking closer I could also see resting Little Terns and a couple of Little Egret, whilst away to my right a Common Pochard on a neighbouring pool. Back to the car and the drive round to the other side of the water and pick up the fresh water pool immediately before the entrance to the old salinas.
What a packed water with hundreds of Coots, almost a s many Black-headed Gulls and a few Mallard and Common Pochard. However, the biggest surprise was not the pair of White-headed Duck but the trio of Marbled Ducks close to the shore on my left. A pair of Little Grebe were busy feeding as I made my way into the reserve itself and what a surprise! Just about every scrape was dry, so disappointing after what had just gone before.
Onwards and upwards and suddenly one of the sandy scrapes held over forty feeding Sanderling, some still in breeding plumage along with a number of Little Stints. Closer now to the main water and able to identify the resting birds on the pool separators. Lots of Lesser Black-backed and Audouin's Gulls and nearer to me a pair of fishing Black Terns.
The next embankment produced a similar number of gulls and terns whilst quartering over the ground on the opposite side a female Marsh Harrier, This finally led me down to the water near the old pumping station and the most rewarding sights of all. Lots of Flamingo, Black-headed Gulls and Little Egrets but even more so the many score of both Little and Sandwich Terns along with a single Common and a very rare Elegant Tern. Black-winged Stilts and both Redshank and Greenshank along with Dunlin and Little Stint. Sleeping away to my left a dozen or so Spoonbill which had been joined by a couple of Glossy Ibis. Almost seems a shame to mention the pair of Magpie that also got in on the act by flying in to rest on the nearby bushes!
|Elegant Tern (far right) with Sandwich and Little Terns
So ended the day with a magnificent variety of birds finally totalling, at present, some 59 species.
|Mainly Sandwich Terns
|Sleeping Spoonbills with Glossy Ibis at back
Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Shag, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling. Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Elegant Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Black Tern, Little Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow.
|Avocets with Black-tailed Godwit
|Quartering Marsh Harrier
|One Slender-billed Gull (back centre) with Black-headed Gulls
|Cattle Egrets feeding on rotting tomatoes