26 January, Las Norias

Herewith Dave's account of his trip to Las Norias (Almería) in search of the White-winged Black Tern (also now sometime sknown as White-winged Tern only) that has previously been reported from Motril and Adra. Like me, his luck was not in and the bird had b******* off, just as they do for me when they hear I'm coming. I should add that White-headed Ducks are now dispersing back to breeding areas, which could well account for the fall in numbers. Yesterday I saw my first Black Kite of the year, obviously one with a suicidal bent although it could have just been plain banjaxed as it battled the strong easterly with which we have been afflicted these past days as it flew close - like 10m close - and low in front of me as it crossed the autovía in to Málaga.

As our planned trip to El Fondo, near Alicante, was postponed as the majority of the reserve still being closed due to a lack of water, I decided to go to Las Norias, near Roquetas. There had been a report of a White-winged Black Tern being there. Weather forecast didn't look to good, but hey, I'm no fairweather birder......if the drizzle had been any worse when I set off I wouldn't have gone!!

Arriving at about 0900 hrs I was greeted by numerous Crag Martins flying over the causeway. There had been reports in the local papers about the high water levels here and for a change the papers were correct. The conditions were not particularly good as a fresh breeze was making the water very choppy.Checking the left hand side first, there were a few small flocks of Red-crested Pochards and Shovelers. Grebes were well represented with Great Crested, Black-necked and Little. A Common Sandpiper was standing on a rock. On the right hand side I could see White-headed Ducks sheltering on the far waters edge together with Pochards.

The second stop between the plastic greenhouses proved as waste of time, so I carried on to the causeway by the plastic recycling depot. Again the meadow on the corner proved to be the best birding spot, especially for waders. There were singles of Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Dunlin, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Snipe and Lapwing. 12 Little Stints were the biggest group apart from a large contingent of Cattle Egrets. From the causeway itself a Shelduck flew over and 4 Gadwalls were disturbed in the reeds. I spotted a Purple Swamphen on the far bank.

I walked up to the little bridge and saw a raft of about 100 White-headed Ducks. Didn't see the 1000 reported earlier but there are numerous water-filled gullies hidden by reeds where they could easily shelter from the winds and waves. I saw a distant juvenile Night Heron flying to conclude the day. No White-winged Black Tern. In fact no terns at all. 33 species for the day.

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