17 August : Las Norias & Roquetas

This missive from Dave was awaiting me when I returned from my annual, rain-blessed trip to jolly old England and the Bird Fair, the first drops trickling horizontally across the windows of the 737 as it came in on final approach - typical! Not that I did too much birding although 36 hours on the East Yorkshire coast gave little, with very few terns, no Sanderling at all, only 2 or 3 Oystercatchers and 6 Ringed Plovers, plus a solitary Greenshank winging its way south. 
In fact, there were more Peacock butterflies than birds, many in excellent condition, coming in off the sea from a SE direction on both the Wednesday and Thursday and by Saturday there were several around my sister's garden near Leeds. This movement had also been seen by an old friend that I met at the Bird Fair who lives down at Lowestoft (everyone has got to live somewhere).
So, after a long day down at the Bird Fair and spending far too much on a super drawing of White-faced Storm-Petrels by Ian Lewington, looking at trips and destinations and wondering why I couldn't win the lottery, it was back to sunny Spain last evening to be met by a wall of heat which was about double the temperature that I left behind. If the temperatures stay like this there'll be naught from me this week and then I'm off to Madeira and won't be back until 31 August.
So, on to Dave's report ... I see you got really excited, Dave!

   Gilly's job as a Care Nurse for Almeria Angels was sending her to Aguadulce, near Roquetas for a 5 hour shift, so I thought I'd chauffeur her down there and check out Las Norias & the Roquetas lake. Mid august is not a good time of the year for birding, especially in the hot afternoon but her shift dictated the timing!
Squaccco Heron
     I arrived at the first causeway to discover that the recent water pipe work had virtually been completed. There was a new fence and much of the vegetation had been removed giving better views over both sides.....not that there was much to see! The water level was down and there were new "No Fishing" signs. To the left I could see numerous pairs of Great Crested Grebes.....yes, that was it apart from a Yellow-legged Gull. I fared slightly better on the right hand lake. There were more Great Crested Grebes and some Little Grebes. Also seen were Coot and Moorhen....WOW!
     I headed round to the far side, stopping half way along next to the plastic greenhouses. The pipe work had again removed all the vegetation so one had great views over this side of the lake. In the shrubs were both Collared and Turtle Doves. At the end of the spit, which was obscured by these bushes, were a group of immature Gull-billed Terns together with some Black-headed Gulls. They revealed themselves when they all took to the wing. There were a few Barn Swallows and a Little Egret flew past.
Red-crested Pochard, female
     I then drove to the second causeway near the plastic recycling factory. There were a few Cattle and Little Egrets still hanging around the nearly deserted heronry. I managed to spot a couple of Squacco Herons down by the water's edge. Also seen was a Kingfisher, a Green Sandpiper and a Grey Heron. I had seen no wildfowl at all until I spotted a lone Gadwall hiding under some vegetation. There was a couple of unusual birds flying around the smaller of the pools. They were medium sized terns  with mottled black markings under wing and body. I could've got some great photos had both my camera and lens not been returned from the repairers with further focusing problems (repairers appear to be taking the whole of August off.....not a happy chappy!). Having looked in Collins the best bet would be White-winged Black Terns.
     I then headed for Roquetas. On the lake by the hotels I found 68 Greater Flamingos surrounded by at least a thousand Coots! Also seen were Mallard and a female Red-crested Pochard. The track up to the Red-knobbed Coot pool had been graded so up there I drove. Only Common Coots there together with a female Common Pochard and a Little Grebe with 4 young.
     26 species in total. Attached photos from previous visits.

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