04/04 : Las Norias & Roquetas

I was going to write up and put on-line the very pleasing morning that I had on Sunday at La Charca de Suárez and then the morning that Ron and I had yesterday around Fuente de Piedra and the laguna Dulce,. But as today has not been a good one with a lot of little things which precluded getting down to unloading and processing photographs, much less writing something half-way intelligible, I am extremely happy that Dave and company sent in this report, along with photos to enliven it. So, while a heavy of arrival of swifts moving along the coast under grey evening skies is going on, I shall put Dave's report on-line. Mine, which will bea hotch-potch in all probability, will be up by Good Friday afternoon if all goeth according to plan (which is seldom does).and it rains.
It may well have been a Caspian Tern, Dave, as 4 were seen off Calaburras this last week and another at the Guadalhorce. They are very big, Lesser Black-backed Gull size, and dwarf Black-headed Gulls and yes, they will dip the huge bill into the water as they fly into the wind. White-winged Blacks are smaller than Black Terns and they look very white on the upper wing surfaces in comparison with Black and Whiskered Terns.

Reports of strong winds didn't seem to be correct as Colin, Sandra, Val, Chris, Gilly and I parked at the first causeway at Las Norias. The water level was still high. Colin and Chris spotted some overflying Avocets before I could get out of the car. The only other waders seen were 3 Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper and some Black-winged Stilts. Waterbirds consisted of Gadwall, Red Crested Pochards, Mallard and ducklings, Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Moorhen. More interestingly were the terns. Saw a large one flying away from us, skimming the water, occasionally dipping its bill in to pick up, presumably, insects. Is this Caspian Tern behaviour? Also seen were Whiskered Tern together with either a Black Tern or possibly the reported White-Winged (Black) Tern. Unfortunately it fled to the far end of the lake, never to be seen again! Sandra then spotted movement in the reeds quite close to us - a Purple Swamphen. Also seen were a Yellow Wagtail, large flocks of Cattle Egrets and both Black-headed and Yellow Legged Gulls.
We then proceeded to the rear of the lake. As we arrived 7 Night Herons took off from the shrubbery to the right. When Colin, Sandra and Val arrived, they informed us we'd driven past a very photgraphable Squacco Heron.....double drat! Also seen from this point were some Black-necked Grebes.

At the second causeway, we saw another Squacco, White-headed Duck, Shoveler, Pochard and Little Egret. A Marsh Harrier put a huge flock of Cattle Egrets to flight. The Booted Eagle high above us was a bonus. Thank you, Gilly.
We then headed for the Roquetas lake and pool. The predicted winds had now arrived. On the lake we added Greater Flamingo and Lesser Black-backed Gull to the list. We saw a further 3 Marsh Harriers, one female apparently sitting on a nest in the reedline. The star bird though was a male Little Bittern crossing in front of us as we walked (the Spanish ignoring the "Authorised Vehicles only" sign) towards the Red-knobbed Coot pool. Hopefully their absence is down to the fact they were in the reeds nesting.
44 species for the day, not including the unidentified terns. Another good days birding.

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