24 February : Las Norias and Roquetas

Winter hath come at last and heaven knows what damage the low temperatures and strong, cold winds coming down off the sierras will do to the early migrants (I know what they did to me), especially the hirundines and the few early swifts reported, not to mention the thousands of Chiffs which are moving now. The Solitary Sandpiper remains at the same site in Almería where it has been twitched by many, along with up to 12 other spp. of waders reported this week, including Temminck's Stint.
That said, now for Dave's account of the Arboleas Group's trip to Las Norias and Roquetas.

The motley crew consisted of Steve, John, Richard and myself today. We met up at the service station at Jct 420 E15/A7 motorway just beyond the Roquetas tunnel. After a coffee we made our way to the Balso del Sapo at Las Norias....yes it pays to read the signs! The water was as flat as a tack on both sides of the first causeway. The predominant birds were Shoveler on the left hand lake. Amongst the large rafts were a few White-headed Ducks. Down the far end perched on the posts were Cormorants and some Grey Herons. John spotted some distant Red Crested Pochards and a number of Great Crested Grebes. I added a Common Sandpiper on the rocky edge.
Moving across the road we found both Black-necked and Little Grebe. I spotted a lone male Gadwall and Richard added a Little Stint. A flock of 20 odd Avocets flew over. Little birds in this area included Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers, Zitting Cisticola, White Wagtails, many Chiffchaffs and some Meadow Pipits. Richard then spotted a juvenile Night Heron on the reed edge. Steve found some Crag Martins. They were obviously enticed by the thousands of mosquitoes!
We then drove round to the halfway stop. On the rocky outcrop were numerous Cormorants. We saw Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin, a Wood Sandpiper and at least 20 Little Stints. Richard spotted an Iberian Yellow Wagtail. I added a Barn Swallow.
We found more Yellow Wagtails on the corner meadow and John found another juvenile Night Heron and I spotted our first Red-rumped Swallow of the year whilst walking along the second causeway.
We convoyed towards Roquetas adding a couple of Kestrels. After a coffee we made our way to John and Alan's spot, which, when I read the sign, is called Punta Entinas Sabinar! From the causeway between the salinas we observed hundreds of Greater Flamingos and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. On the wader front we had Redshank, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilt and Black-tailed Godwits. Loads of Shovelers here as well plus a few Shelducks. A Marsh Harrier made an appearance, but the best sight of the day was a flypast of about 30 Spoonbills.
We ended up with 47 species. Weather was sunny, but the wind increased from calm to stiff breeze during the morning.
I'm off with Gilly to Morocco for a couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll have some good photos to show you upon our return.
Regards, Dave

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