Wednesday 4 October 2017

Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar

Osprey Pandion haliaetus (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
Wednesday 4 October

Shame I could not accept the invitation to join Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group as I would very much like to have added Knot to the year's list.  As it was I was having blood sucked of my arm, all red though mother had told me it should be blue, then round the corner to give water or, as known to we gentlemen of a certain age, to literally have the p**** taken!  Not helped by being told my sample was insufficient and hang around to try again.  So much for catching the bus into Malaga for the morning but, having dropped Jenny off at the bus station in Torre del Mar, I suddenly had the "urge" so had to rush back to the hospital and, eventually, manage to leave the car in Torre and arrive on the bus less than an hour behind Jenny.  A walk round the indoor market was enjoyable as was the ride back along the coast in glorious sunny weather.  Too much information I hear you say.  So, on to Dave's report and those fabulous Ospreys in addition to the Knot.

Las Norias & Roquetas   -   Wednesday 4th October

For a change today we decided to head for Las Norias and Roquetas.  Barrie and I met up at Jct 529 service station (eventually.......he was waiting at one end and me the other!)  We headed south only to be delayed by a reported accident, but we got to Jct 420 Repsol garage cafe before the prescribed hour where we met a tired John, who'd been up late on an airport run!  After a reviving coffee we headed to the first causeway on the Balsa de Sapo.  A scan over the left hand lake produced many Great Crested Grebe.  Down the far end we could see Grey Heron, Yellow Legged Gull, Cormorant, Little and Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Mallard and Common Pochard.  We heard Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers.  A Cattle Egret and a Black-headed Gull flew over.  I spotted some Red-crested Pochard before John shouted "Osprey!"
Female Pochard Aythya ferina (abobe) and male Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
There it was at our end of the lake circling in search of prey, eventually diving down, but failed in its attempt.  We moved round to the next stop.  We saw more Red-crested Pochard.  I found some Gadwall and Barrie some Shoveler.  John spotted a Western Swamphen.  We were disappointed that there was no visibility from the second causeway due to the vegetation.   I spotted a Night Heron flying over.  Barrie said there was a better view round the corner.  We walked round and had much better views.   There were about 8 Night Heron roosting together with Little Egret.  We then motored up to the little bridge.  Barrie spotted another Swamphen in the far reeds.  Whilst in the area I picked up about 50 beer bottles, which we put in an appropriate bottle bank.
Dunlin Calidris alpina (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
We convoyed towards Roquetas seeing an adult Booted Eagle and some Magpies on the way.  After an early tostada lunch we made our way to the lake.  A kestrel was seen.  On the lake were hundreds of Coot and Black-headed Gulls.  On the far side were some Greater Flamingos.  John found a raft of 60 odd Black-necked Grebes which dived en mass when a female Marsh Harrier flew over.  Leaving John's car there we all got into my 4x4 to travel along the bumpy track.  We found a Greenshank and a Little Egret at a shallow pool to the left.  On sandy areas where water once was, we found Ringed and Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling.  There was a small flock of Sand and Crag Martins.  We also saw a Willow Warbler and some Stonechat.  We ended up at the Salinas de Cerrillos.  The water level was quite high.  I counted 42 Sandwich Tern.  I found a Glossy Ibis.  Barrie spotted a Black-tailed Godwit.  A discussion ensued regarding a couple of medium-sized waders.  After checking the photos and Collins I deduced they were Knot.  
Red Knot  Calidris canutus (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
There were Slender-billed and Audouin's Gulls, an Avocet and a Redshank.  We saw our first Barn Swallow of the day and a Zitting Cisticola showed well.

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
On the way back we stopped at a gull-covered causeway.  They were mostly Audouin's Gulls closest to us, then the odd Yellow-legged, followed by Lesser Black-backed Gulls down the far end. We next stopped at the ex Red Knobbed Coot pool. Still none there.  Lots of Mallard, a few normal Coot and a single female Common Pochard.  Barrie spotted our final bird, a Kingfisher.
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
A brilliant day.  Another Osprey being the star bird. 49 species in all.  No mosquitoes!  Good birding and company.
Regards, Dave
Our favourite Osprey Pandion haliaetus (PHOTO: David Eliott-Binns)
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