31/10 Las Norias & Roquetas

Wednesday's the day for the Arboleas Group to be let out and herewith Dave's report on a good days birding. Note that the photo of the Red-knobbed Coot is a bird from the reintroduction project and that the ponds at Roquetas have always held large autumn-winter gatherings of Black-necked Grebes. Interesting the lateness of the Northern Wheatear as yesterday Stephen had seen 8 or so on La Janda at nearly the opposite end of Andalucía which makes me wonder if there might be any of Greenland race - often visibly bigger than the normal Northern Wheatear, more robust, more erect and brighter colouring generally.
Was a bit worried on Tuesday evening as the heavens opened, but thankfully the forecast was right. A clear sunny sky greeted us as myself and seven other Arboleas Group members arrived at the first causeway at Las Norias. Two things stood out. Firstly there was construction work on the left hand side. Secondly, hardly a surprise after the recent rains, the water was extremely high. Looking first to the left hand lake, we managed to spot Little and Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Gadwall. In the distance we could see numerous Cormorants hanging their wings out to dry and a few Shovelers. On the LBJ front there were lots of Chiffchaffs feeding on the millions of midges and mozzies and the occasional Cetti's Warbler called.
female Red-crested Pochard
     To the right we saw a Black-necked Grebe and an overflying Cattle Egret. Close to the waters edge was a Black Redstart, a Stonechat and a Yellow Wagtail. Near the scrapyard wall there were more Cormorants, Gadwall and Mallards.

Wood Sandpiper
      A new water pipe was being laid beside the road to the second causeway, so we didn't stop near the old heronry. As we approached the junction to turn right onto the causeway, we slowed to check out the flooded meadow to the right. There was a pair of Black- winged Stilts and a very obliging Wood Sandpiper (L). On the grassy verges were Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails. We parked and observed the little track between the reeds and the meadow. I first spotted a Snipe down the far end. A Robin made an appearance. Then (sorry, Brian) not one but two Bluethroats came out of the shrubs. Also seen were a Common Sandpiper, another Wood Sandpiper and a second Snipe. The rear end and legs of a Purple Swamphen disappeared into the reeds. The first Northern Starlings of the season were seen flying overhead. We then moved over to the left hand smaller pool. There were numerous Grey Herons, but it was great to see two Night Herons. Also seen were Crag Martin and a Little Egret. We then sauntered up towards the plastic recycling plant. Val spotted a third Night Heron in the reeds to the right.
Red-knobbed Coot
     We then drove to the lake at Roquetas, stopping for a coffee on the way. There were large rafts of Black-necked Grebes and lots of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Also seen were a few White-headed Ducks, some Common Pochards and a pair of Greater Flamingos. We then walked the 300 metres to the little pool to the left. We were rewarded with good views of a Red-knobbed Coot and two female Red-crested Pochards.
An extremely good birding day. 42 species in total and cracking weather!

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