Friday, 13 January 2017

Las Norias with the Arboleas Bird Group

It looks as if my friend Dave Elliott-Binns has been following in my footsteps after visiting Las Norias less than a fortnight after I, along with Steve and Elena Powell, made a similar visit.  Like us, his group found lots of water but also lots of rubbish and overgrown vegetation.  Seems to me that some serious management work needs to be undertaken at this site to return it to its past glories.  However, unlike us, the Arboleas Group did manage to find a Night Heron.

Las Norias and Rio Andarax   -   Wednesday 11th January

A recce to the Almanzora by Val and John confirmed the lack of many birds, so having been to Cabo de Gata recently, our only reasonable option was to head to Las Norias, the far side of Roquetas. Gilly and I picked up Carolyn from the Overa Hotel junction and made our way to Jct 420 where we met up with John, Alan and Kevin.  After a coffee and chat we made our way to the first causeway, seeing a power line full of Cattle Egret on the way.  There were loads of Crag Martin skimming low over the water.  Small numbers of Chiffchaff were feeding in the shrubs.  A Cormorant flew over to meet up with other perched on posts down the far end of the lake.  A Yellow-legged Gull was seen down there as well.  On the water there was a small raft of Shoveler.  I spotted some Gadwall.  Also seen were Great Crested and Black Necked Grebe, Red Crested Pochard, Coot and Mallard.  John found a Grey Heron and Kevin spotted a Common Sandpiper and Little Grebe.  A Stonechat appeared as we drove off.
Moving to the second stop we found the parking area on the rough land was full of old tyres and refuse.  The water level on this lake was high.  We'd lost the rocky beach good for waders.  As well as more Red Crested Pochard, I found 3 White Headed Duck.  Alan checked out the wasteland and saw a Meadow Pipit. 
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then drove round to the second causeway.  A Robin was by the track.  Visibility was still poor due to reed growth.  I spotted a Marsh Harrier flying over.  Saw a Magpie and Gilly heard a Blackbird. Walking along the road towards the Plastic Recycling plant I found a Grey Heron standing on a dumped block of plastic refuse.  I then spotted a single adult Night Heron roosting in a large shrub. Kevin found our only Moorhen of the day!
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Normally from here we'd visit Roquetas, but as the Steppe Grey Shrike was still at the Rio Andarax estuary the other side of Almeria I decided we'd take a chance and go there.  On the way we stopped for a coffee, adding a Black Redstart to the list.  We then checked out the area where I'd previously seen the shrike but without success.  We did see Crested Lark, Greenfinch, Serin and Stonechat.  Out to sea we found Sandwich Tern, Lesser Black Backed, Black Headed and Mediterranean Gulls.
Being fed up with the rubbish at both locations, Gilly, Carolyn and I picked up about 40 glass bottles and put them in the correct recycling bin.  Every little helps!
36 species for the day.  Good weather, company but not so good birding.  Regards, Dave
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