14/12: Arboleas Group visits Las Norias

Once more, Dave and Gilly save the day as I have absolutely nothing to recount about my flying visit to the UK except being 4 hours late due to strong winds,landing with the sleet flying past horizontally, roads like glass, -4ºC and I have started a new book, entitled provisionally, Ten reasons for not visiting the UK in winter! Few birds, especially enjoyable the small party of Blue and Long-tailed Tits whilst walking my sister's canine monsters.
With regard to Dave and Co. seeing Reed Buntings, there are indications of above normal numbers from several areas throughout Andalucía. The record of 3 Common Terns is also unusual, although there are occasional winter records but usually on the Atlantic coast. I suppose it's asking a lot to know what age they were,1st winter or adult birds.
For those who are within striking distance, La Janda is full of raptors and Stephen Daly of Andalucian Guides regales me far too often with tales of what he and the folks he takes around are seeing - Spanish Imperial, Golden and Bonelli's Eagles, up to 3 spp. of harriers including the fabled Pallid and the wonderful little Black-shouldered Kites plus heaven knows what else happens to be around. He knows where they are!

Gilly and I picked up Rod Prout at Antas and headed south to Las Norias. It was a long way but by the end of the day we all considered it was worth it. The weather was again on our side. Sunny with a slight breeze. We got to the first causeway and saw that the water level was very high. I'd told Rod to expect 100s of Shovelers, but sods' law dictated that they were few and far between! To the left there was not a lot. 3 Gadwalls, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebes, Coots and Cormorants. The bushes were alive with Chiffchaffs. Gilly did well to spot some Red-crested Pochards down the far end.
To the right there were far more birds. There were 1,000s of Black-headed Gulls and lots of grebes, now including Black-necked. There were lots more Cormorants. Common Pochards were also seen before we headed round to near the "old" heronry.
I say old because it was now full of Cormorants and only a small amount of the branches were sticking out above the high water. On the track by one of the plastic greenhouses we saw a Meadow Pipit and also some Reed Buntings on the chain link fence. We then spotted a tern sitting on a rock in the middle of the expanse of water. Not being up on winter plumage, apart from Sandwich Terns as they are often seen by the coast, Rod and I concurred that this was a Common Tern. Two others were seen later. How Gilly spotted a Slender-billed Gull in the midst of the Black-headed Gulls, I'll never know. Rod spotted a couple of distant Night Herons perched on some reeds.
We then proceeded to the second causeway, where we saw at least another 10 Night Herons. There were also 6 or more Squacco Herons. This area, I think, will be the "New" heronry, which is ok by me as they were all within camera range! (Robert, am I now reinstated as the official photographer?)
After a reviving cuppa we went to Roquetas lakes. Here we added Marsh Harrier, numerous Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Wren, Serin and a Zitting Cisticola to the list. I then observed a flight of birds approaching us. 12 Glossy Ibises! A lifer for Rod and we managed to see only one Red-knobbed Coot (No.84) in the pond, but that was enough to secure another lifer for him.

44 species for the day, so well satisfied.

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