8 April 2009, Arboleas Birding Group - Las Norias & Roquetas

As I am putting in anything up to 12 hours a day on illustrations for the seabird guide, my birding for the foreseeable future is going be (a) limited and (b) very briefly written up in this blog. I am, therefore, most grateful to Dave and Gilly for their account of the exploits of the Arboleas Birding Group, and for the photos by Dave.

A lovely sunny day and hardly any wind, so the five group members were looking forward to a good days birding, starting at Las Norias and finishing at Roquetas. As we arrived at the first causeway we were greeted by trillions of midges & mosquitoes who were also enjoying the good weather. On the water there were numerous Great Crested Grebes and a few Black-necked Grebes looking very dapper in their breeding plumage. There were a couple of Gadwall, a dozen or so Pochard and a similar amount of Red-crested Pochard. On the wader front a Common Sandpiper was seen and a pair of very loud Black-winged Stilts flew over.
Numerous Cattle Egrets were heading towards the heronry, so we followed them round. The shrubs situated over the water were a mass of white. The place was full of breeding Cattle Egrets. Amongst them, the grey and black colours picked out the nesting Night Herons. Difficult to estimate numbers, but I should guess at around about 100 Egrets and a dozen Night Herons. A few Squacco Herons were seen to fly in and disappear into the white mass.
A few Whiskered Terns were fishing over the water, on which were small groups of Shoveler and White-headed Ducks. To our relief, when we got to the second causeway near the plastic recycling factory, a breeze had removed most of the flying insects. On the gravel island were 16 Collared Pratincoles and a few Black-winged Stilt. Mary, one our of new members from Chirivel, spotted a sleeping wader. Luckily it decided to stretch its wings and shake its head - a Bar-tailed Godwit - our bird of the day! We then headed to Roquetas and were glad to see a Short-toed Eagle on the way as was the Spanish driver who nearly rear-ended Dave's car!
As I was the only one with a 4x4 I took Brian and Mary to the pool along the bumpy track so they could see the Red-knobbed Coot, who appeared thinking we might have some food. On the main water, a Purple Gallinule was glimpsed on the reed edge and a count of the Greater Flamingos there produced 178. Five distant, and sleeping as usual, Spoonbills were seen.
Ended the day with 43 species.

Dave & Gilly

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