07/03 : Las Norias & Roquetas

Dave and co. get first bite fo the cherry tonight as I have just finished downloading and sorting out my photos from this morning at Fuente de Piedra, which may get out online tonight or may not. Please send some water from Las Norias to the Guadalhorce, Dave. WE didn't see a single swift, and not for want of looking. So, here goes.

It was a lovely sunny day as we headed towards Las Norias followed by Colin & Sandra in their car. The problem was the wind. Sure enough as we parked at the first causeway the waters were choppy and the water birds were sheltering on the peripheries. And another thing.... the water level was only 6" (or 15 cms) below the level of the road, an incredible 3-4 feet (or 90-120cms) above its normal level. There was therefore no places for waders to feed. On the left hand side there were small groups of Red-crested Pochards and Coots. Numerous Cormorants could be seen. Above us there were a large contingent of Pallid Swifts together with a few Barn Swallows, Crag Martins and the odd Sand Martin. Colin thought he might've seen a couple of Red-rumped Swallows as well.
In the flooded enclosure behind the building was a pair of
Great Crested Grebes, who hopefully won't decide to nest in this vulnerable area. On the wader front we saw a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and Snipe fly over. Also seen were Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall.
To the right of the causeway, looking into the sun, we managed to add Black-necked Grebe, Common Pochards and White-headed Ducks before heading round to the Old Heronry. The bare branches were full of Cormorants. A Cetti's Warbler was heard.
On the flooded "meadow" on the corner before the factory causeway there were two Black Winged Stilts, Moorhens and Dabchick. A Yellow Wagtail was on the pathway briefly before flying off. We parked up. Sandra walked back to the meadow. A shout got the rest of us back there. A Squacco Heron was motionless in the reeds at the back. The water level here the same as at the first causeway. There was no sign of the man made gravel islands. Hopefully they'll be above water by the time the Collared Pratincoles arrive to breed....somehow I doubt it. A check along the reedbeds on the factory side produced two more Squaccos and around 6 Night Herons. Having logged 37 species we travelled to Roquetas.
The same problem of wind over the water here, but we did add Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Marsh Harrier and our only Stonechat of the day. Over the far side the was a huge raft of Red-crested and Common Pochards. We made the walk to the Coot pond and were able to show Colin and Sandra their first Red-knobbed Coot.
Ended up with 42 species for the day. A good day, but spoilt by the weather.

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