23 April : Las Norias & Roquetas

Brilliant stuff with the Bittern record, they are very scarce in Andalucía.  Mind you, I do have strong doubts about the noises that Great Reed Warblers emit being classed as 'song'.
The lure of some shopping made Sandra suggest we visited Las Norias and Roquetas this week and we're glad that she did! Gilly and I were chauffeured down to the Jct 420 service station by Kevin where we met up with Rod, Linda, Colin, Sandra and John to have a coffee before heading into plastic greenhouse city, Las Norias. At the first causeway we immediately saw that the water was as flat as a tack and more disturbingly we had been joined by thousands of mosquitoes! 
There weren't many birds out and about. On the water were Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, a Cormorant, Red-crested Pochard and a Little Grebe. We could hear a Great Reed Warbler shouting its song from the far reeds. It eventually showed itself. Round the back of the pump house we managed to see a singing Reed Warbler and a Hoopoe. Gilly spotted a Common Sandpiper. A Little Ringed Plover was also seen as were Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls. As we were about to leave two Little Terns flew over.
     We moved round to the Old Heronry. A Black-winged Stilt on the point was joined by another (or one of the previous) Little Terns. We added Gadwall to the list. A large group of terns then appeared, feeding over the water....Whiskered Terns. Shortly after 4 Gull-billed Terns flew over. An adult Night Heron took off from the right and flew up and down the lake.
     It was next to the second causeway, by the new heronry. Very concerned as there was only one Little Egret there. I'd have thought there'd be far more activity by this time of the year. There were numerous Great Reed Warblers singing to the right. On the left hand lake we saw more Red-crested Pochards and Great Crested Grebes. Most of the group walked up to the little bridge whilst Gilly and Linda hung around the vehicles for security. We added Grey Heron, Common Pochard, Kestrel and Red-rumped Swallow. Gilly and Linda saw a Purple Heron.
     Personally I was slightly disappointed as we headed towards the lake at Roquetas. After a coffee stop we arrived by the lake. There were numerous Coot in a flotilla, one was part albino with a white back. John spotted White-headed Duck. Colin spotted a bird flying from the reeds on the far side to the reeds to the right, the town side. It was Night Heron size but brown. Having seen many juvenile Night Herons I knew it wasn't one of them. Having checked "Collins" when I got home it was obviously a Bittern. Good spot, Colin! As we were about to leave some Greater Flamingos were seen flying.
     41 species for the day, the Bittern being the star bird. Hopefully there will be more activity at the Las Norias heronry site in the near future.

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