dinsdag 17 januari 2012

30th of December: Birds, surrounded by endless greenhouses.

Thousands of greenhouses aligned along the Spanish coast just west of Almeria, make this area not a pleasant place to enjoy nature, or even watch birds. Many squared metres of ground are filled by greenhouses, that grow vegetables, destined to be transported to us. Eventhough this area is a completely polluted place, one can find an impressive richness of birdspecies amongst these awful looking plastic things. Still, I wouldn't go back that soon to a place full of greenhouses. There are better places to watch birds;)
One of these places is situated just west of Roquetas de Mar. Where urbanization there ends, nature starts. A big lake situated on the edge of the greenhouses holds hundreds or even thousands of birds, mainly ducks. 

We left to Roquetas de Mar around 9 in the morning, first dropping off the girls in Almeria, who wanted to do some shopping. Getting through the chaotic city of Almeria took us longer than expected so it was not until 11 before we reached our destination:
The lake

A quick scan over the lake delivered us 111 White-headed Ducks, some 50 Black-necked Grebes, 45 Red-crested Pochards and high numbers of coots on the more common ducks. A Peregrine was hunting above the lake, sometimes flying just above the water level, eager to grab a duck. A bit later we decided to walk to the old Salinas, situated west of the lake, In the reedbeds we heard Penduline Tits and Purple Gallinules. The old saltlakes held 14 Red-crested Pochard, 15 Snipes, 8 Spotted Redshanks, 3 Grey Plovers, 1 Ruddy Turnstone, some Black-necked Grebes and a flock of 25 Lesser short-toed Larks showing well, foraging on the steppe. 

Black-necked Grebe on a small pool in the saltmarsh.
Spotted Redhanks with a Little Egret.
Salinas-Greenhouses-Sierra Nevada

Around 13.30 our birding time was over and we headed back to Almeria, ready to get good Spanish food in the centre of Almeria. We at a good restaurant. On our way back to Cabo de Gata we had a cup of coffee along the boulevard. Near Cabo de Gata we stopped at Las Almoderas, a steppe area just north of Cabo de Gata. A good places for Stone Curlews and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. We didn't see any of these but we did see a spectacular sleep migration of Cattle Egrets and Greenfinches.
Thekla Lark in flight.
At least 500 of these cute little Egrets were seen heading to the saltlakes of Cabo de Gata. Smaller and bigger groups were passing us everywhere.
Las Almoderas with the Cabo on the background. Taken just after sunset.

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