Wednesday 16 January 2019

Las Norias & Roquetas with Dave

Wednesday 16 January

This week saw Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group visiting that bloomin's awful area that holds the large lake at Las Norias and a follow-om to the waters and salinas of Roquetas de Mar.  Lots of lovely birds and, no doubt, the rubbish will still be about when I visit in mid-February on the way up to Cabo de Gata.

Las Norias & Roquetas   -   Wednesday 16 January

For a change I drove Richard's smart and comfortable vehicle with Paul in the spacious rear seats down to Jct 420, our coffee stop-over and meeting point on the way to Las Norias.  There, we met up with Alan, John and Val. Suitably refreshed we followed them through the back roads to the first causeway.  We immediately saw Collared Dove, Serin, Crag Martinand  Chiffchaff. Richard spotted a Black Redstart.  I scanned the far end of the left hand lake.  There was a long line of "Barnsley penguins" ( Cormorants!) sitting on posts and other perches.  I counted 142.  That number did not include any on the water or more we saw later.  In all there must have been at least 300 spread between the three lakes.  Also seen were Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Coot, Little Grebe, Grey Heron and Mallard.  Paul spotted a lovely female Marsh Harrier.  He was also first to spot one of the two Whiskered Terns feeding nearby.  Moving over to the right hand lake, Alan reeled off Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes plus Shoveler.  He next found a Grey Wagtail.  John added a Stonechat.  Also seen were House Sparrow, White Wagtail and Moorhen.
Moving to the viewing point half way round the right hand lake, we were disgusted by the amount of plastic and tin rubbish in the area.  The amount of discarded tyres by the waters edge was beyond belief.  We added Northern Starling.  John, Alan and Val also had Snipe and Kingfisher before we got into position.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved onto the opposite end of the Plastic Recycling factory pool.  Here again there were huge piles of discarded plastic sheeting not 400 metres from factory.  We added Red-crested and Common Pochard.  We also saw Grey Heron and heard Cetti's Warbler.  Driving to the small bridge end, 6 Teal flew over.  John saw a Black-winged Stilt and Richard, a Wren.

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then followed the others to Roquetas via a coffee stop in San Augustin.  We added Jackdaw and Magpie on the way.  We commenced birding at the far end of the salinas.  As we started to drive across the causeway towards the lighthouse we could see two raptors above us dogfighting in front of the sun.  Stopping we had great views of a dark phase Booted Eagle putting a valiant defense against a Peregrine Falcon, but it did lose a few feathers!  The Greater Flamingos ignored them.  As we drove on, a Water Pipit was seen nicely perched.  Before we got to the small parking area, Paul had already seen a Purple Swamphen.  Getting out of the vehicles, we got attacked by mosquitoes.  Paul eventually managed to show me the elusive bird hiding in the reeds.  The rest wandered further along seeing two more. We then retraced our steps and headed to the next stop, seeing a Kestrel perched on a power line.  Getting out of the vehicles, we saw a Zitting Cisticola.  Moving on to the causeway, Alan found a Redshank and John, an Audouin's Gull amongst the hundreds of resting Lesser Black-backs. About half a dozen Marsh Harriers were quartering in the area, putting up various flocks of birds.  We struck gold when a flushed group of 11 Spoonbill flew over.  Amazingly I got a good photo with a point and hope shot!

Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia in flight (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then moved round to the main lake nearest the hotels, seeing Iberian Grey Shrike and Hoopoe on the way.  There must have been a thousand Black-headed Gulls and five hundred Coot on the water, but the biggest surprise was the 100+ Gadwall.  Also seen were Little Grebe, Mallard and Common Pochard.  Last bird on the list was a Blackbird.
Gadwall Anas strepera (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended with 49 species. A very good days birding in good company.
Regards, Dave
Sounds like yet another good day out Dave and in special company.
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