A reasonable morning with a very light wind and a little cloud as i set off to Fuente de Piedra for the day to meet up with Ron and Polly Maersk, visiting birders from Oregon in the USA. I may have arrived early but Rona and Polly had allowed extra time to drive up from Mijas Costa so were extremely early and awaiting me when I arrived. The air was full of hirundines and swifts; mainly Common Swifts but there also a good number of Pallid Swifts to be seen during our visit and most of the hirundines were Barn Swallows with a smaller number of House Martins but no Red-rumped Swallow was recorded. I did have a single Raven cross the motorway as I approached the slip from for Fuente and, unusually for me, there were no end of Jackdaws about the laguna during the whole of our stay.
|Avocet Avoceta Comun Recurvirostra avosetta|
The roadside field may have dried up with the loss of its pool but it still held a single Avocet and some resting, on the grass, Barn Swallows. Crossing the boardwalk, passing the first of many Crested Larks, it was also obvious that the land had been drained with almost no water to be seen at this particular site. A few Black-winged Stilts were seen before we walked over to the far side to view the far edge of the main laguna. Lots of Greater Flamingos about and very many Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. Corn Buntings were singing and displaying on fences and hedge tops and, naturally, we found both Coots and Moorhens. A few Mallards were seen near the reed edge along with a handful of Red-crested Pochards. A lone female Marsh Harrier drifted over ensuring that there was a lifting of birds from below and we managed to record Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls as well as a pair of Great Crested Grebe. Ron was in time to catch a glimpse of a Grey Heron coming in to land and promptly get lost behind the thicker vegetation.
|Greater Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus|
Returning to the main water we had a visit from a single Cattle Egret and then a singing Sardinian Warbler as we made our way to the rear of the Visitors' Centre to check out the Laguneta. However, not before checking the small pool on the right which produced a couple of Redshank, a lone Wood Sandpiper and a trio of Ringed Plovers along with Mallards, Moorhens, Coots, Black-winged Stilts and Avocets. On the water at the back we added a number of Common Pochard and a couple of Little Grebes. Lots of Spotless Starlings and Jackdaws were moving about along with the feeding hirundines and swifts.
Next it was the journey to the far end of the main laguna to see if we could find the reported pair, or even a trio, of Lesser Flamingos. No sooner out on tot eh main road than we had a roosting Common Buzzard and the stop at the Mirador de la Vicaria produced a single Lapwing followed by Blue-headed Wagtail (Yellow wagtail of the Iberian persuasion), a singing/displaying Zitting Cisiticola and a very visible Reed Warbler that just loved to be watched from the hide. Also present were another pair of Redshank, a few Ringed Plover and a two pairs of Kentish Plovers. A Hoopoe was clearly heard singing away to tour left. Once we had found our first Stonechat there were many to be seen, and even more Corn Buntings, until the first of a small number of Gull-billed Terns passed overhead.
|Gull-billed Terns Pagaza Piconegra Sterna nilotica|
No sooner had we arrived at the Mirador de Cantarranas than we had not one but two Purple Swamphens. Lots of feeding Gull-billed Terns and then a trio of Whiskered Terns put in an appearance. A most handsome male Marsh Harrier quartered the marsh whilst the Avocets and ducks, including both Gadwall and a pair of Shelduck, got on with their feeding. The main water and edges were a mass of pink and white from the thousands of Greater Flamingos present, especially towards the breeding colony on our right. A single White-headed Duck was found on the pool below and, as we returned to the car, first a Spotted Flycatcher and then a beautiful Melodious Warbler serenaded us form a nearby bush top. Sad to say, a long stop at the far end overlooking the flamingo colony did not reveal a lesser Flamingo so it was onwards towards our final destination for the day, the Laguna Dulce.
Turning right at the farm we had a number of House Saprrows and Spotless Starlings but also a single male Woodchat Shrike on the fence. Then it was on towards the main road and the former (?) Bee-eater colony where we recorded another Spotted Flycatcher, Stonechat, Goldfinches and both Blackbird and a Chaffinch flew across the road. The Laguna Dulce was fuller than I had ever seen it before so no muddy edges to attract ant waders or a skulking Purple Swamphen or Water Rail. We did have a pair of Black-necked Grebes in full breeding plumage right in front of us and also recorded both Little and Great Crested Grebes. Lots of Coots, a few Mallards and more Common Pochards along with a pair of male White-headed Ducks. On the way to the this water we almost ran over a pair of Turtle Doves who had decided that the centre of the main road was as good a place as any to pick up some grit; obviously they had either migrated via Japan or had it on their "Wish List" of places to visit!
When you add the Bee-eaters seen on the outskirts of Los Romanes, looks lie the road-side colony is going to be occupied again this year, the mountain Thekla Larks and Serins a day's total of almost 60 birds was very pleasing, especially when you note the birds that were not seen.
Shelduck, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Reed warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.
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