Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar with Arboleas Birding Group

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Wednesday 24 April

Should have rained here today but a handful of spots at the worst.  On the other hand, presumably, friend Dave found better weather to drive west to Las Norias and Roquetas de Mar with his sole fellow Aerboleas Birding Group member to enjoy a wonderful day's birding with over 70 species recorded.

Again, the forecast for both Ventas de Zafarraya and the Guadalhorce in Malaga is absolutely horrendous but suggesting it might be sun and cloud further east in Almeria province so I might just drive up to the same sites tomorrow and see what is still about.  Be good to hopefully catch up with another Pied Flycatcher and see a first Collared Pratincole of the year, and even the newly-arrived Little Terns.  Fingers crossed that I will not be disappointed.

Las Norias & Roquetas  -  Wednesday 24th April

Well, it was only Les and myself today going to Las Norias and Roquetas which meant we could use my 4x4 to venture further into the Roquetas salinas.  I picked him up in Los Gallardos and we headed straight for the first causeway at Las Norias forsaking our usual coffee stop!  Above us was a conglomeration of hirundines and swifts.  We nearly got the complete set!  Pallid and Common Swifts.  Red-rumped and Barn Swallows.   Sand, Crag and House Martins.  There was a gusty wind, so we only heard the Great Reed Warbler.  On the water were Red-crested Pochard, Coot and Great Crested Grebes.  A Yellow-legged Gull flew by.  A Night Heron was resting down the left hand reed line.  Les spotted some distant Whiskered Terns and a low flying Kestrel.  A large flock of Little Egrets flew past as did a single Yellow Wagtail.
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved onto the second stop by the rocky peninsula.  A Turtle Dove and a Night Heron flew away, but arrivals included Wood and Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Little Stint.  A Stone Curlew dropped in.  I then spotted two resting Collared Pratincoles.  Very hard to see amongst the rocks. Also seen were Black-winged Stilt, Moorhen, Mallard and a Willow Warbler.  Heard a Sardinian Warbler.
We drove to the far end of the smaller lake.  Was glad to see the piles of discarded plastic and the dumped tyres had been removed.  Well done to the local council or the Junta!  How much the fly-tippers will take notice of the new signs I dread to think!  Les found some Shoveler and Common Pochard whilst I bagged a Gadwall.  On the gravel bank we saw Red-crested Pochard, Mallard and a couple of Night Heron.  A male Pied Flycatcher showed well.  Les was first to see a Little Bittern fly by.  As we turned the truck round we came across a flock of about 20 Yellow Wagtails.  Moving round the corner to the meadow and track, we had a distant view of a Woodchat Shrike.  We wandered down the track but due to large muddy puddles we weren't able to continue.  We drove to the little bridge and were delighted to see a Purple Swamphen.
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
En route to our coffee stop in San Augustin we came across a small flock of 10 Gull Billed Terns feeding over some waste land.  We also saw Black-headed Gull, Hoopoe and Jackdaw.
Little Terns Sterna albifrons (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Suitably re-hydrated we headed for the Salina tracks. We only stopped at one but we were rewarded with a Slender-billed Gull, plus a small group of feeding waders.  Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Little Stint.  A Redshank flew by noisily.  Les found an Audouin's Gull.

Little Stint Calidris minuta, Dunlin Calidris alpina & Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea and a second Dunlin (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
It was then onto the large lake.  Very choppy water but we managed to see the trio of grebes, Great Crested, Black -necked and Little.  There was a line of Little Egrets on the far shore. Amongst them was a single Squacco Heron.  Les found our first Grey Heron of the day.  Les spotted a flight of three Glossy Ibis.
We drove up the very bumpy and puddled track to the small "ex Red Knobbed Coot" pond.  Les was still sorting himself out when I spotted a pair of Marbled Duck flying over the reeds in the distance. The pond only had Coot and Mallard thereon.  We carried on deeper into the reserve.  Lots of standing water.  We were very disappointed not to see any Collared Pratincoles, but we did find some resting Little and Gulled -billed Terns, Kentish Plover, Turnstones and a single Common Tern.  Little birds included an obliging Woodchat Shrike, a Grey Wagtail and a Reed Bunting. 
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At the salina by the pumping station we only added a Spotted Redshank.  The water was very high. On the way back we found a mixed flock of gulls, adding some Lesser Black-backs to our list. Greater Flamingos were in fine fettle.  The last bird was a Zitting Cisticola.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterua roseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
An amazing 70 species today. Sunny weather, but spoilt by the wind. Thanks, Les, for joining me on this great day!

Regards, Dave

Have these Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus lost their way? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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