Wednesday 24 March 2021

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar

 Wednesday 24 March

I received an email this morning informing me that a Puffin had been recorded at Cabo de Gata and have now received my friend Dave's report on his day's biding outing with the Arboleas Birding Group.  It looks as if the group by-passed the Cabo and straight on to Las Norias so , maybe, a case of close but not close enough, always assuming that the Puffin did not move straight on to pastures (well seas) new.  Las Norias itself seems to still be rather an eye-sore in terms of the discarded rubbish and on this occasion somewhat short on the expected bird numbers.  I wonder, like my visit today, whether the much increased temperature has driven the insect life high accompanied by the hirrundines and possibly even some early swifts.  I shall be interested to find out which of the Roquetas lanes has had a chain placed across it, possibly that leading to the light-house.  Still, hopefully by early April the provincial border closes will ne lifted s that I, too, can once more return to these Almerian sites.

Las Norias & Roquetas de Mar -  Wednesday 24 March

Looking through my previous bird lists, I was amazed to discover it had been over a year since we'd visited Las Norias and Roquetas.  Today we returned. I picked up Juda from Los Gallardos and John collected Trevor.  On the way down towards we hit a bank of quite thick fog, but luckily it had cleared by the time we passed Almeria Airport.  We stopped at the Repsol Service station, Jct 420, for a coffee. We then headed for the first causeway at Las Norias.  The water was as flat as a tack so nothing could hide from us.  Unfortunately there wasn't much to see apart from Great Crested and Little Grebes, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard.  Down the far end I found a few Red-crested Pochard.  There was a line of 82 Cormorants sitting on posts plus one or two Grey Heron I found a pair of Gadwall to the right and then a Purple Swamphen in the opposite reed line.  A Green Sandpiper flashed past.  In front of us in the low shrub was a Sardinian Warbler. A  pair of Serin were chattering from the overhead power line.  A pair of Cattle Egret flew over as did a Yellow-legged Gull.

Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus courting (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved on to the next viewing point.  Having overcome the rubbish assault course we saw a low flying Teal.  Juda was first to see a Black-winged Stilt.  A Reed Warbler flew between reed clumps and began to sing.  John spotted the first of the very small number of Barn Swallows we saw all day. 
Moving on the bottom end of the smaller lake we were disappointed by the lack of birds.  Juda spotted a Magpie.

We parked up by the meadow.  John saw a Common Sandpiper.  A small flight of Yellow Wagtails flew over.  I stayed with the vehicles as the others ventured down the lane.  They added Thekla Lark and Greenfinch. 

We moved along to the small bridge near the Plastic Recycling factory.  Lack of birds was partially due to anglers illegally fishing, but Juda did spot another Purple Swamphen.  John did well to find a distant Marsh Harrier.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We headed towards Roquetas, stopping for another coffee en route.  On the way John had a Woodpigeon and an Iberian Grey Shrike.  With a chain across the track, we took to shank's pony.  We were pleased to see an overflying Great White Egret and as we carried on another Marsh Harrier which had put up a Glossy Ibis.  We also saw Red-crested Pochard, Greater Flamingos, Black-headed, Slender-billed and Yellow-legged Gulls.  We started to walk under a constant mosquito attack.  A Little Egret was on the track.

Moving to the next causeway we found a group of Shelduck sitting there.  John did very well to spot a couple of distant Avocet.  As we walked back Trevor saw a Zitting Cisticola which I only heard. Driving to the large lake we saw a Hoopoe and Kestrel en route.  The first bird of note was a Squacco Heron resting on a leafless shrub in the water.  Some Common Pochard were nearby.  I spotted what I thought was a tern sitting on a post in the water.  John, with his telescope, confirmed it was a Whiskered Tern.  A great spring migrant to end the day!

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended with 45 species. A bit disappointing to be honest. Expected a lot more hirundines and other migrants! Maybe next time!

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