Wednesday 5 February 2020

Las Norias & Roquetas with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 5 February

Whilst my last down in Seville province started dry, cal and sunny, albeit not the 25C of the last two days, it was only on the way back with a stop off for thirty minutes at Fuente de Piedra that I realised the temperature had dropped by at least 7 degrees, lots of cloud and very windy.  Now I can understand Dave' comments about a "few spots of rain" and "a bit of a wind."  Looks like I had the better weather and with the birds seen at the Brazo del Este the best of avian sightings.  My next job to write up my blog but I suspect I will be sleep before I start after all the driving.  Great to see Dave and his birding friends are still getting out and about and must make sure that I join them again at a future meet.  It seems everyone is seeing Wrynecks apart from me!

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar: Wednesday 5th February

I decided this week to go to Las Norias and Roquetas, not only for the birding but also to pick up some tiles from Leroy Merlin!  As I drove down towards Almeria there were a few spots of rain, but by the time I'd reached our meeting place at the Repsol service station at Jct 420 the sun was shining, but there was a bit of wind.  I was joined by John, Val, Trevor and Alan.

After a coffee we headed for the first causeway.  As we parked we were overflown by a Cormorant, a Grey Heron and the first of a steady stream of Crag Martins.  Concentrating on the left hand lake first, Alan soon spotted a Great Crested Grebe.  There were about half a dozen of them in total.  Then he and John combined to discover a Gadwall near the reeds to the left.  There were many Cormorants down the far end perched on posts.  Black Headed Gulls were on the water.  Also seen were Little Egret and Yellow -legged Gull.  I wandered over to the right hand side where visibility was hampered by the sun.  I did manage to find a Little Grebe.  Heard a Cetti's Warbler.  The others had followed me over.  lan spotted some White-headed Ducks, which were close to where we stop next.  I thought there might have been a Shoveler there as well.  John thought he'd found some roosting herons, but they turned out to be tree trunks.  As I checked it out I found a perched bird in one of the shrubs. Once it turned it's head it proved to be a Wryneck!  A pair of Red-crested Pochard showed well. 
En route to the second stop I logged Collared Dove, House Sparrow and White Wagtail.  Sure enough Alan's White-headed Ducks were close by.  There Were 15 of them.  John confirmed my Shoveler sighting.  There was a small flock amongst the dead trees.  He also saw a Kestrel and a Black-necked Grebe.  Alan saw a Teal and then spotted a tern.  It had no black whatsoever on it's head and greyish wingtips.  Looking at Collins, the only suspect would be a 1st winter Gull-billed Tern albeit two months early!

Mr & Mrs Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
I moved about three metres to my right and for some reason all the birds took to flight including 24 Grey Heron which we hadn't seen before.

We then moved to the near end of the smaller pool.  I spotted a Great White Egret perched on a leafless tree.  There were also Cormorants.  We parked up round the corner in the only spaces available as reported by Bob Wright the other week.  Nice new road, but no legal parking places!  We only added Magpie and both Spotless and Northern Starling.

Great White Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We convoyed round to Roquetas de Mar, stopping for coffee on the way.  We drove across the causeway towards the lighthouse.  The wind had increased.  Nothing on the water, but a few Yellow-legged Gulls on the little islands.  We parked up and walked up the sandy slope to get a better view over the reeds onto the water.  There were Greater Flamingos.  Trevor then spotted a Marsh Harrier, closely followed by John seeing a Blackbird.  Some Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew by.

Moving further along the salinas, Alan saw a Greenfinch as we were parking.  From the causeway initially we only saw more Greater Flamingos.  Alan found some elusive waders further along the causeway.  Most probably Turnstone.  John then added some Shelduck.

We drove round to the large lake by the hotels.  There was a large raft of Coot nearby.  As a female Marsh Harrier approached they closed ranks till she had passed.  John checked out the huge line of gulls, but unfortunately they were all Black-headed ones.  Apart from two white Aylesbury ducks and two  Heinz 57 Mallards, the only wild duck, spotted by Trevor, was a female Common Pochard.
I then headed to Leroy Merlins.  The other were just going to wander up to the "Ex Red-knobbed Coot" pool and would let me know of any other additions. They added a Stonechat.

Raft of Coots Fulica atra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 38 species, the stars being the Wryneck, Gull-billed Tern and the Great White Egret (seems commoner than in years gone by!)  A good days birding in the sun in good company!

Regards, Dave
Tongue of wind blown foam! (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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