|Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris|
Wednesday 12 May
A wonderful long morning's birding up in Almeria province with friend Dave Elliott-Binns and a couple of his Arboleas Birding Group members, Neville Colegate and Kevin Borman. Beautiful, clear, sunny day and almost perfectly calm until well into the early afternoon. Not having to meet until 10 o'clock at the industrial-looking irrigation lake at Las Norias, I left home early enough to make a slight diversion and visit the vega area adjacent to the Charca de Suarez in Motril to check out a recent report of a large Common Waxbill flock feeding in the area. I found the site with no problem and was pleased to observe the large mixed flock feeding in the dense vegetation.
|Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild (bottom) with Red Avadavat Amandava amandava|
These are not easy birds to photograph at this time of the year as the flock seemed to be constantly on the move; up and for a few metres then dropping straight below the cover. However, I was able to confirm that the flock was mainly Common Waxbill and Red Avadavat with a few Goldfinch and Linnet. Closer inspection also detected at least a quartet of the local Black-rumped Waxbills and, on checking a couple of small birds that briefly landed on the nearby fence, also a Tree Sparrow. As I approached the site along the narrow country lane I noted Blackbird, House Sparrow and Spotless Starling and whilst watching the small finches also noted both Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon. Leaving to continue on through Motril and pick up the eastbound motorway again, as I drove along Turtle dove Alley more Waxbills and overhead feeding Pallid Swifts.
|Tree Sparrow Passer montanus (above) with Red Avadavat|
Barn Swallows as I approached Las Norias and once introductions completed settle down with Dave and friends for some great birding in lovely company. Lovely to see the very close Red-crested Pochard and three ducklings with a nearby Mallard with also three, more advanced, ducklings. Night Heron overhead and then the sight of the Great Reed Warbler and I knew I was in for some very positive sightings as outlined by Dave in his following report.
|Mainly distant Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei|
Well, what a day we've had. Good birding in good company. Las Norias, followed by Roquetas were today's locations. I picked up Neville from Los Gallardos and we headed south on the A7/E15 to junction 420 where we had a coffee waiting for Kevin to arrive. Once he'd had his, we headed for the first causeway at Las Norias. The sun was out and no noticeable wind so the water was reasonably flat. There wasn't a lot on the water. Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Gadwall and the usual Coot, Moorhen and Mallard. We were joined by Bob Wright. I spotted a Grey Heron down the far end. There was a male Red-crested Pochard down there as well. Bob found a female plus ducklings just below us. A Great Reed Warbler was loudly exercising its repertoire. Luckily it was perched on top of a reed and I managed to locate it. Meanwhile Kevin had popped over the road to view the other lake. He located an adult Night Heron at the end of the reeds. Also seen were a Little Grebe and a Black-headed Gull. Bob then found a Purple Swamphen that obligingly flew a short distance before belly flopping in the water. He also spotted a Cattle Egret and Barn Swallow. A Common Sandpiper flew low over the water. Little birds included a male Sardinian Warbler and some Spotless Starlings. The odd Night Heron flew over.
|Female Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
|Little Tern Sterna albifrons with Turnstones Arenaria interpres|
|Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
|Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
|Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
|Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata|
|Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax|
|Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus|
|Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola|