Thursday, 22 September 2016

Arboleas (solo) visit to Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar

Wednesday 21 September

The latest report from David and his Arboleas Bird Group, albeit on this occasion travelling solo,suggests that they found some great birds up at Las Norias.  Just a little more rain and, perhaps, I, too, might have to venture north-east to plastic city followed by a slight detour to check out the old salinas around Roquetas de Mar.  All photographs by David Elliott-Binns.

Las Norias and Roquetas: Wednesday 21st September

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncitis
As Gilly was working and no other members were able to come today, I was "Billy no mates," so I set out at 06.30hrs from Arboleas, in the dark, heading for Las Norias. I was parked on the first causeway by about 08.15hrs enjoying a cup of thermos coffee (enjoy?) when I was disturbed by a tern flying over.....A Black Tern, a good start!  Having finished my coffee I began birding in earnest.  As I've mentioned before, there's a problem with vegetation here.  Very difficult to find gaps where you can see the expanses of water.  There were, in fact, workers in the pump house compound removing wayward shrubs.  On the water to the right were loads of Great Crested Grebe, including one with young boarders. Also had Coot and Little Grebe.  A Reed Warbler showed well and I heard a Cetti's Warbler.  Also saw Grey Heron, Little Tern, Black Headed Gull and Zitting Cisticola.  I checked out the waters to the right.  With the vegetation and now the low, bright sun in my face, I had no chance, but I was well rewarded with an immature Olivaceous Warbler in the shrubs.  As I was about to drive off, there was a Common Sandpiper on the muddy strip between the road and a plastic greenhouse.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus with chicks
I drove round to the next side.  A Cormorant flew over. Low above the nearest greenhouse there were hundreds of hirundines...mostly Barn Swallow, but also some Red-rumped Swallows and Sand Martin.  They were obviously attracted by the thousands of flies and midges that were harassing me! On the water there were again loads of Great Crested Grebe.  There were also some Mallard and Gadwall.  I spotted a Turtle Dove posing in the sun on a bare shrub.  A small flock of Bee-eaters flew over.  On the ground there were quite a few Yellow Wagtails.  Another surprise was a small number of Pallid Swift swirling round above me.  I moved back to the vehicle and found a group of 5 Turtle Dove resting on an earth pile.  A Kingfisher flew past.

A lovely trio of Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur
I drove onto the second causeway.  Here the vegetation virtually completely blocked any view to the smaller pool and island.  Through a couple of gaps I managed to see the inevitable Great Crested Grebe!  I walked up to the small bridge where to my delight I found eight adult Night Heron, sunning themselves.  As I walked back a Hoopoe flew over.

Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
I drove directly to the Punta Entinas Sabinar natural park on the outskirts of Roquetas and headed along the very bumpy in places track towards the Cerrillos Salina.  On the way I stopped to observe Stonechat and Northern Wheatear.  Three Spectacled Warblers were flitting between bushes.  A Zitting Cisticola posed beautifully.  On one of the rocky causeways was a line of resting gulls which included Lesser Black Backs, Yellow Legged and Audouin's Gulls.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Atthe salina there were many different types of birds but in small numbers.  The biggest and most impressive was a Great White Egret.  Less impressive Little Egrets were there also.  The waders included Black Winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Avocet, Turnstone and a few Greenshank.  There were Little Tern, eclipse Black Tern and a single Common Tern.  A Jackdaw was also seen.  I added a Kestrel on the way back to the ex-Red-knobbed Coot pool.  Here I added some female Common Pochard and a Western Swamphen....I think that's what they're called this week!

Eclipse Black Tern Childonias niger with Common Tern Sterna hirundo (front)
In all I saw 54 species. A cracking morning's birding.  Pity I was on my own though.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Great White Egret Egretta alba
A further shot of the delicate Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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