Thursday 7 February 2019

Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar with Dave & Co

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Interesting reading Dave's report below of the Arboleas Birding Group's visit to the west of Almeria.  Like me he has noticed that Shoveler numbers are rapidly declining as they make their return migration northwards.  A little worrying about all the plastic filth at Las Norias and those ABS members attending the February meeting In Cabo de Gata on 16 February and taking in a stop at this site on the way up or back will see the ghastly mess for themselves.  I'll be there Friday morning and trying not to be too distracted whilst birding.  Little Terns would be a delight to see.

Disgraceful discarded plastic rubbish at Las Norias

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar  -   Wednesday 6th February

Ssssh! Don't shout it too loud, but the weather seems to have changed for the better.  As I drove Richard, Paul, Reyna and Peter down from Arboleas the temperature increased from 5C up to nearly 20C by the end of the day.  Blue skies, sunny and very little wind. We met up with Alan and John at the Repsol Service Station (Jct 420).  After a cup of coffee we headed for Las Norias lake, seeing a Cattle Egret perched on a power line on the way.  As we approached the first causeway, we saw White Wagtail, Black Redstart and the first of numerous Cormorant.  Richard saw a Robin and John a Black Headed Gull.  I scanned the far shore and counted over 70 Cormorants resting or drying their wings together with one Little Egret and a few Grey Heron.  We also saw Mallard, Red Crested Pochard, Coot, Moorhen and Great Crested Grebe on the water.  John found some Crag Martin.  On the right hand side, the best birds were 17 White-headed Duck in a raft.  A line of a dozen or so Cormorants were combining forces to fish.  Little Grebe were present.  Alan found an elusive Shoveler.  Most seem to have now departed.  A lot less Chiffchaff as well.  We heard the usual Cetti's Warbler.  Also seen were Serin, Greenfinch and Stonechat.
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Moving round to second stop, half way round, we picked our way through the ever increasing piles of discarded rubbish.  Alan found some Black-necked Grebes.  A flight of Goldfinch flew over.  A Sardinian Warbler was in the reeds.  I then spied a Spotted Redshank in the rocky area, together with a Green Sandpiper and a Northern Starling.  There were hundreds of the latter swarming around in large flocks.  A Grey Heron flew out of the reeds below us.  Richard thought it could've been spooked by a Purple Swamphen.  We then spotted 4 Little Terns fishing over the far side.  A Gadwall landed on the water in front of us.  I spotted a flying Little Stint.  Also seen were Meadow Pipit, Jackdaw and Blackbird.
We moved to the near end of the littler pool.  The fact it is only 500 metres from the Plastic Recycling factory makes the piles of discarded plastic sheeting all the more abominable!  We saw more Red-crested Pochard, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe and Cormorants.  We drove round to the little bridge. Paul spotted a Kingfisher and I saw a Snipe fly over.
On the way to Roquetas we stopped for a coffee at San Augustin.  We drove to the far end of the Roquetas salinas.  As we crossed the causeway, a Marsh Harrier flew above us. 

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Alan and John in the leading car also saw a Zitting Cisticola.  We checked out the reeds and eventually John persistence was rewarded with glimpses of a Purple Swamphen.  Greater Flamingos were, of course, present.  We also saw a distant Shelduck.   Mosquitoes rampant in this area!  On the way to the next stop we added Magpie and Kestrel.  There, Alan spotted Black-winged Stilt and Redshank and John had Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus at Roquetas de mar
We then moved on to the main pool.  Large rafts of Common Pochard, Coot and Black-headed Gulls. A few Gadwall.  Not the numbers of the previous visit.  Also seen were more Marsh Harriers and Cormorants.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
We ended up with 52 species. Lovely weather in great company. 
Regards, Dave

All photographs by David Elliott-Binns

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