Thursday 18 April
|Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Still misty as I made my way along the coast to meet up with the rest of the group in Salobrena. However, along with Pat and Eric Lyon, Gerry Collins, Marcus and Liz Routes, the welcome return of Pat Shaw and guests Peter Nash and Nick Curtis on holiday in the area from England, the weather was rapidly improving as we set off just before 9.15 to make our way to the waters at Las Norias in Almeria province. A most strange site this with, a large lake this, presumably the result of sand excavation, surrounded by dirty plastic greenhouses, a plastic recycling factory and all other sorts of industrial "goings-on" including a smelly farm! But it gets the birds.
Leaving the motorway to head down to the village we soon had many Crested Larks, Blackbirds and Spotless Starlings. The first stop was at the central causeway where a connecting road actually dives the water. No sooner out of the cars and we could hear, then see, Reed Warblers. Whiskered Terns were flying over the water along with Barn Swallows and House Martins whilst on the water were very god numbers of Great crested Grebes and a range of ducks including Mallard, Red-crested and Common Pochard, Gadwall and even a departing pair of Shelduck. At the far western end of the water whilst looking at the resting Whiskered Terns we also picked out a couple of Mediterranean Gulls to add to the Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls that were in the air above us. Soon we had also added both Little and Black-necked Grebes whilst, feeding along the edges were both Common and Green Sandpipers plus a single Greenshank. The nearer stone bank also had a feeding White Wagtail. Ignoring the House Sparrows we walked to the back of a small building where we had a superb view of a singing Great Reed Warbler.
|Gorgeous Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis at its colony
Then it was simply a case of moving to the eastern end of the water to park up on the causeway and check-out both sides. The traditional Cattle Egret colony seemed to have somewhat increased with large numbers of nesting birds but the colony also included at least a dozen pairs of Night Herons whilst, among the general gathering, were also a number of Little Egrets. A single second summer Night Heron raised hopes initially of a possible Little Bittern but that had to wait for another thirty minutes or so before Eric just manged to get a glimpse as one of these very illusive little herons landed and rather quickly worked his way down the reeds out of sight.
|Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax at nest in Cattle Egret colony
|Second summer Night Heron at above colony
|Always the need for more food as this Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax departs from the nest
|Collared Pratincole Glareola pratinola at Las Norias
|Handsome Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
|First Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur of the year at Las Norias
|Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
|Breeding pair of Red-crested Pochards Netta rufina: male above and fermale below
Driving back alongside the salinas we added a number of Stonechats to the the list that were resting on the wires plus a rather handsome Kestrel. The main freshwater lake seem almost devoid of birds apart from the odd Common Pochard so we entered the Parque National to the hidden pond where not only did we find both Red-crested Pochard and White-headed Ducks but both Common and Red-knobbed Coots, the latter wearing its "084" collar! Above us, the House Matins and Barn Swallows had been joined by a very small number of Sand Martins. Leaving the pond to make our way home, after a stop for lunch, we had our only large raptor of the day, a single Marsh Harrier. Other birds recorded during this latter part of the day included Serin, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff and a good number of Woodchat Shrikes giving a final tally of 60 species - until Eric or somebody else informs me otherwise!
|White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucocephala : male above and female below.
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochad, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Bittern, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Swift, Pallid Swift, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Chifchaff, Woodchat Shrike, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting.
|Displaying Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus
|Not the most romantic way to lave the other half!
|Even a House Martin Delichon urbicum needs an occasional rest
|The Coots: Common Coot Fulica atra above and Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata below
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.